Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Gives Stealth Tactics a Pirate Makeover

Set sail for sneaky tactical action

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Gives Stealth Tactics a Pirate Makeover
Source: Steam.

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew floats into Steam's Next Fest on a ship with a literal soul. Self-published by Minimi Games, the game takes place in an alternate history of a pirate Golden Age, one where Black Pearls can bring back cursed pirates. These cursed folk are hunted by the Inquisition, whose "Maiden's Fire" can make short work of their undead buddies.

It's an interesting premise, especially with the devs behind Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun and Desperados 3 at the helm. The game steps out of Edo-period Japan and the Wild West into the fiendish seas of Shadow Gambit's pirate age.

Its cutscenes are rich with flavour text and stellar voice acting elevates the storytelling of a game primarily built around sticking blades in enemy guts before hiding them. Said red-coat enemies also had interesting dialogue as I lurked in bushes around their encampments.

Source: Steam.

Time travel, backstabs, and stealth gourmet

Shadow Gambit's intricate level design meant that I had multiple ways to go about the tasks that were set before me. Side quests offered even more reasons to stick around and clear the map. Return quests with new objectives also made for a fresh challenge on familiar ground. Your crew members' unique powers wrapped this cursed present up with a glowing bow.

Each member of your party of formerly dead crew members has a spectrum of abilities to pick from. Starting with lone wolf Afia Manicato, this tough woman has a cutlass sticking out of her chest and can blink across terrain for a kill. This ability reminded me of the dangerous stealth missions of Dishonored 2. As for her companions, a silent sniper and a teleporting cook are tempting options.

But my first companion was Suleidy. A dryad who's part plant, the ship's doctor can send enemies away from their posts with foul spores. But more than that, her ability to summon a bush out of nowhere caught my attention. Instant cover is great but cover that dissolves enemy bodies is the perfect stealth tool.

Watching the entire Shadow Gambit party move in a bush felt like an adaptation of the age-old cardboard box trick from Metal Gear Solid. Each three-member combination felt viable and I was quickly sampling the skills of soul-snatching Pinkus Von Presswald, skeleton chef Toya, and the blinding sniper Teresa.

Source: Steam.

Shadow Gambit is a forgiving test that asks you to keep trying

The Hades-esque art style pairs really well with the game's pirate aesthetic. Flexible difficulty options and the ability to rewind time back to a savepoint make the game more accessible to new stealth tactics players. And I absolutely loved the soundtrack and the sounds that the rewind made. It even repeated bits of dialogue if I had saved right in the middle of a conversation.

I got to try out the game's first act and it has succeeded in being both fun and really short. So set your broken compasses towards this crew of nautical wisecrackers and head over to Steam Next Fest for Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew's taste of some good-ol' stealth goodness. The demo is available through the end of Next Fest and the full game is set to release on August 17th.


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