Review: Death’s Gambit: Afterlife Is a Whole New Experience
I never played Death’s Gambit on its original release. There are so any soulslike and metroidvania games that Death’s Gambit flew under my radar—sort of. I mean, it was already in my Steam library, but I have so many other games to play that I never gave it a second thought. And that might be a good thing, because coming into Death’s Gambit fresh for Afterlife seems like the way to go—and I’m glad I did.
Death’s Gambit: Afterlife is a side scrolling action platformer that has soulslike and metroidvania qualities. In it, you play as a person who has died—and has made a pact with death. Newly immortal, travel across the land of Siradon fighting enemies, finding weapons and abilities, and challenging massive (and difficult) bosses. It’s all of the best mix of what I like about Dark Souls and the exploration gameplay I really like from metroidvanias. So how did I miss this game before? Apparently, there have been a lot of tweaks made to make it as good as it is now.
Afterlife is a complete overhaul of Death’s Gambit. Almost every existing system in the game has been tweaked, with some being completely revamped for Afterlife. I’m not going to list every change here, but there are few big ones. At the beginning of the game, you have the ability to test out a few different playstyles before committing to one—something I appreciated as a newbie jumping in the first time. The healing animation is faster—but it heals for less. Attacks can be redirected now—if you’re winding up a big swing, you can change its direction instead of being completely committed. The kick has been replaced with a slide, so now you slide through shields instead of kicking them away. And the entire map has doubled in size—with six new bosses, and new NPCs to fill in that gap. There are also new movement abilities that are required to get to certain areas—making it even more like a metroidvania than previous. That’s a hell of a lot of changes—and the best part is that it’s free for existing Death’s Gambit owners.
I can’t say how different it is, but I can say this: I really like Death’s Gambit: Afterlife. Movement and combat feel great, and the world is large and interesting to explore. While combat is very soulslike, it doesn’t have as heavy of an impact as I would like. I wish weapons felt meatier, and impacts felt more significant. But that complaint aside, I really enjoy how dangerous the combat can be, and how the different weapons (over 30 to find or craft) can alter playstyles significantly.
While I know that the movement abilities are new to Afterlife, I really can’t imagine Death’s Gambit without them. You can eventually find a double jump, and a mid-air dash—both of which make getting around Death Gambit: Afterlife’s large world really fun. And it has to be fun, because Death’s Gambit: Afterlife touts one of the largest metroidvania maps—and somehow developer White Rabbit managed to make each area interesting, with unique elements to keep things interesting.
Death’s Gambit: Afterlife is technically a role-playing game, and as such there are abilities to help specialize and hone your preferred method of death dealing. Each class has several skill trees including two class skill trees and an “advanced” tree that lets you build your character a number of different ways. There are also powerful abilities you can find or purchase that can deal massive damage.
While there are a fair number of enemies to fight in Death’s Gambit: Afterlife, the boss fights are pretty damn fun. I found Death’s Gambit : Afterlife to be a bit on the easier side when it comes to soulslikes, but there are some very engaging, somteimes challenging and sometimes massive boss fights. Each boss fight adds a new element or two, keeping these encounters fresh and interesting.
Death’s Gambit: Afterlife is the definitive way to play Death’s Gambit, and the only one I know—and it’s great. I absolutely love the open world, the newly added movement abilities—and most of the combat. I just with the combat was a little weightier, though it’s still very fun. Even if you played Death’s Gambit before, Afterlife seems like the perfect excuse to jump back in—and while your old save will work with Afterlife, it’s probably best to start a fresh character to check out all the new content.
Death’s Gambit: Afterlife is available today on Steam and Nintendo Switch, and later this year on PlayStation 4.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.
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