E3 2015: Death’s Gambit is a Dark Souls and Shadow of the Colossus Sandwich

Death’s Gambit is what you get when you take a whole heaping of Dark Souls and a healthy dollop of Shadow of the Colossus all smeared together and wrapped with some good, all-wheat Castlevania bread. OK, now smush the whole sandwich down until it’s 2D. Perfect. There’s really no other way to look at Death’s Gambit without having those three games in mind, and they’re comparisons that developer White Rabbit will freely off as inspirations.

The game begins with a death—yours. Your character is about to die when Death incarnate comes to him offers salvation in exchange for a killing immortals. You see, Death, being Death, isn’t a huge fan of anyone who cannot die, so he gives you the mission to figure out a way to kill these beings. You can probably already tell where the Shadow of the Colossus direction will go here. White Rabbit promises “crazy boss fights,” and you can see glimpses of them in the game’s latest trailer: huge, towering behemoths, massive, flying snakes, and one angry dragon. White Rabbit makes no bones about it: Death’s Gambit will be a difficult game.

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The game is aiming to capture the feel of Dark Souls in its combat with heavy, slow weapons that will require you to carefully time your attacks. Like Dark Souls, you can block, dodge, and roll as well. You’ll have two weapon slots to fill as well as several ability slots for new powers, and you’ll be be to equip or unequip weapons and abilities to suit your own play style. When you die—and don’t worry, you will die—you’ll drop one healing item and you’ll want to fetch it, a familiar mechanic for Souls players. You get three healing “phoenyx plumes” at a time in Death’s Gambit, but these will regenerate at save points (Dark Souls players, think of the plumes as flasks and the save points like bonfires). Cautious players can choose to get more plumes at the cost of reduced damage output; likewise, gutsy players can sacrifice plumes for increased damage output.

The world of Death’s Gambit is nonlinear and full of secrets, and in general, the game will encourage you to explore new paths and try new strategies against bosses—you’ll get different items depending on how you beat a given boss. Aldwynn, an abandoned, labyrinthian medieval city, is the only location White Rabbit is showing off at the moment, but promise that the aesthetic could change dramatically with other locations.

Death’s Gambit is coming out on PS4 and PC sometime in 2016.