A Tribute to Minimi Games: Shadow Gambit

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A Tribute to Minimi Games: Shadow Gambit

Good morning all. Sadly, Minimi Games recently announced their closure from the industry. After fifteen years, Shadow Gambit will be their last game. You can read more by clicking on the link below to their website:

This hurts, and it is a big blow for the industry. I’ve been a fan of Minimi Games ever since Shadow Tactics, and their latest masterpiece Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew might be their best game of all. While it is unfortunate, I do understand why. This is a brutal industry, and burnout is real. I only wish the best for this great developer going forward. There is still support for Shadow Gambit going forward, with a planned content update in the coming months. While today is my bite-sized impression of Shadow Gambit, this is a tribute to them as well.

While I played a bit of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, the most experience I’ve had with Minimi Games was Desperados III, their 2020 game. I was extremely lucky to get access to the game several weeks early, thanks to my connections with THQ Nordic. Desperados III was one of my favourite games in 2020, cracking my top-five list for the excellent stealth mechanics and solid setting.

Onto Shadow Gambit. It’s clear from the moment I pressed ‘play’, that they’ve learned a lot from their previous titles. Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is a delicious stealth action sundae, crammed with nuggets of fantasy and magic. It’s a big change from the feudal Japan/Western settings of their previous games, and they stepped up to the challenge with gusto. And now I’m hungry. We’ve been through this — don’t make food analogies when you haven’t eaten yet.

I want to thank the lovely folks at Minimi Games for granting me a review code for Shadow Gambit, and while I’ve only scratched the surface, I already enjoy it more than Desperados III. That’s a pretty high bar as I liked that game a lot! So far, Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is sitting on ‘Very Positive’ reviews on Steam. It might not all be smooth sailing and I wish the enemy diversity was better, but so far? I’m having a blast.

Shadow Gambit’s setting is the best kind of ‘crazy pirate world’ I can ask for. Unlike their previous games, this is a world brimming with powerful magic, with the deadly pirate crew brimming with awesome abilities. In this alternate history of the Caribbean, inquisitors terrorize the islands. It is up to the maniacal, supernatural crew of the Red Marley to challenge them and carry out the ultimate heist. With all these bonkers powers, the player has a lot of room to experiment.

Leading with the pirate queen Afia with her teleportation abilities and lethal sword, the game introduces the player to its many mechanics smoothly, offering great tutorials throughout. These take two forms. One is the interactive tooltips in the early maps, offering players tips and tricks on how to utilize their abilities, or learning about enemy tactics. New characters revived with the Black Pearls also gain access to the Training room, an awesome feature that provides players with repeatable tutorials to each character’s powers. There are several difficulty options, including the option to customize difficulty to your liking before setting off on a mission. With a maximum of five crew members to take upon a mission, there’s a treasure trove of options. Every character has some cool abilities, with great voice acting and personality that’s just chicken gravy.

Unlike their previous titles, Shadow Gambit experiments with an open-world formula. The first few missions are more like their other games — linear although the maps are open with several different paths to take. After that, progression is up to the player. It’s the usual gameplay, with options for stealth or all-out assault. Given how aggressively the enemy will hunt the pirates down if spotted, I always recommend going quiet. It’s a stealth game for a reason! While they will hunt you down, they are fairly easy to avoid. I sent in my swimmers, and when they got detected I had them escape into the water. On harder difficulty modes, I found the enemy got smarter when tracking people down after I sliced one of theirs, but it is still relatively simple to outsmart them.

It’s not all sunshine and honey, of course. I wish the unit diversity was better. There are only a few enemy types. It’s not a deal breaker by any means but I would like more. I’ve had a couple of bugs but nothing game-breaking, although I’m not far in. Performance-wise, it runs well enough on even modest hardware. I’m feeling the repetition of the mission design, but I’m enjoying the gameplay loop so much that this hardly matters.

Forgive my rambles today. It’s been a mad week! The important thing from this is — Do I recommend Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew? The answer is yes. It’s a bittersweet experience. Because of the mental and financial cost of developing these great games, one of my favourite studios has paid the price. However, if anyone needs to go out, this is the way to do it. Bravo, Minimi. I’m loving my time with Shadow Gambit so far. And I’ll keep playing it. With its colorful cast of characters, great gameplay, and fantastic tutorials, this shapes up to be one of the best games of 2023.

Minimi Games’ most ambitious and open gameVery limited enemy diversity
A refreshing setting with supernatural elements make for a big improvement to the stealth tactics genreI’m not sure yet how much the open world design helps the game. It’s solid, but the previous editions might have done the missions better.
A colorful and diverse cast of characters with excellent voice actingA few bugs and glitches
Some of the best tutorials I’ve ever seen in a video game

About the Author

TheThousandScarAuthor/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games.

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