I like to keep an eye on both souls-likes and metroidvanias, so when a mix of the two comes along, especialy after the brilliant Hollow Knight, I'm inevitably going to put some time into checking it out. While most of these have failed to really earn my appreciation like Hollow Knight did, Deaths Gambit has become a new favourite of mine.
You're part of a military expedition to claim the Source of Immortality for your own country, but you and your entire army are immediately slaughtered by Endless, ruler of the undying land of Siradon. Awakening just before a lizard man can throw you on the corpse pyre. You're them told by Death himself (itself?) that you are now undead, and in service to him until you destroy the Source of Immortality. Along the way you'll fight your way through hordes of respawning monsters, rest at shrines, meet a bunch of dubiously trustworthy characters and dodgeroll yourself demented. The usual Souls formula.
I want to get the issues out of the way first so I can move on and gush about what I liked about it, so I'll say straight away that it's just not hard enough. Don't get me wrong, I died a bunch, but that was almost always in boss fights, unlike Dark Souls or Hollow Knight, I hardly ever died to regular enemies except on maybe my first meeting with them, and I'm hardly amazingly talented. The only really tough regular enemies are the gold armoured lizard dudes with realy hard to anticipate attacks. I also didn't like that i couldnt find a new weapon for my chosen class, I went as an Acolyte of Death cause I felt it seemed fitting, and the starting weapon was a giant fuck-off scythe, so why wouldn't I, but there wasn't any other scythe weopons to be found in the game and all the special attacks the NPCs could teach me were for other weapons that I wouldn't be able to use with the skills and attacks I'd already been upgrading. It's not a huge problem, but was a annoyance since it took me a while to get the guy who could upgrade my weapons and armour since he was passed a rather awkward boss encounter, which also took me a while to find since there's no bloody map, yet another thing I find particularly irritating. I spent bloody ages missing out on a huge part of the game cause I didn't realise that what looked like a wall was hiding an entrance to a whole new area.
Also buying an item to keep advancing is something I personally don't like in a game but I don't think it's really an issue per se. Aside from that and a couple of bugs, like were the inventory wouldn't open and when the merchant said he'd get more items in next time I visited but never bloody did. I also tried out some of the other classes quickly and while they all play quite similar, I found the ranged class of the Wizard to be very dull to play.
Despite all these little niggles I have and continue to enjoy playing Deaths Gambit. It's a beautiful game with some really nice animation on top of that, the little touches in particular are lovely, along with the character design that feels imaginative but also familiar to a lot of other fantasy in a way I find really endearing. The characters themselves are well written and voice acted, if a little over the top at times, and I found the humour to almost always make me at least smile. Although I realise that is a rather personal thing given that not eveyone will find the same things funny, and I will admit it comes off a little forced in a few sections and has a few more pop culture references than some people might like.
The combat is fun if slightly easy for most of the game, as I said before, the boss fights are the only real challange but they are where the game really shines. Though I'll not spoil any as I think you should definetly experience them for yourself, a lot of them, especialy as you get farther in, show off some great imagination and a passion for making it feel like a tense and exciting battle. They've also done their own take on a couple of well known Souls tropes, that since I'll not spoil, will be an fun surprise for fans of the Dark Souls series.
Deaths Gambit is a brilliant game that wears its inspiration on it's sleeve and is one of the first to deliver on it for me in some time. I'll leave it here with my absolute recomendation to any who love this specific brand of game and say that I firmly believe I'll be playing and replaying Deaths Gambit for some time to come.