Death’s Gambit Beginner's Guide
Death’s Gambit — a debut game developed by Los Angeles based independent studio White Rabbit — borrows many familiar elements from the Dark Souls series, but even the veterans of Souls games may find the game to be too cryptic. Our guide will help you understand the intricacies of the gameplay.
Choosing a starting class and gift
Before starting Death’s Gambit, the player needs to choose his character’s class. Unlike Dark Souls, however, these archetypes do not only determine your character’s initial equipment and characteristics (those can be changed later on) but also his unique perk:
- Soldier — blocking attacks gives you Soul Energy to use for abilities.
- Assassin — dodging attacks gives you Soul Energy to use for abilities.
- Blood Knight — allows you to regain some of the lost health if you quickly retaliate.
- Wizard — using a healing plume will give you Soul Energy to use for abilities. For those who prefer ranged combat.
- Noble — using items gives you Soul Energy to use for abilities. Being a noble will grant access to a unique merchant in the Sanctuary.
- Sentinel — you can equip any weapon or shield if you have at least half of the required stats. Parrying gives Soul Energy to use for abilities.
- Acolyte of Death — killing enemies gives you Soul Energy to use for abilities. He can also restore broken Death Idols (checkpoints), which can significantly shorten your way to the next boss.
Sentinel is the best choice for the new players because of his unique perk and starting parameters — seven units of strength and six endurance units (nobody has more initially). Other suitable alternatives are the Blood Knight and the Acolyte of Death. By the way, the latter starts the game with a scythe — you will spend plenty of time before you find a new one.
Then you choose your starting gift — a bonus item, which the characters receives for free at the beginning of the game. This decision will not affect your game too much, but it can slightly ease your life in the early stages.
- Vados Helm — adds 5 points to vitality.
- Spellbinder’s Aura — using abilities increases intellect by 2 points for 24 seconds, stack up to 10 intellect.
- Gaian Blood (x5) — increases endurance regeneration by 100% for 14 seconds.
- Shield of Warning — can be found in one of the first locations, reduces the duration of negative effects by 25%.
- Soul Stone (x5) — used to enchant equipment, turns into 50 shards (local currency) if used as an item.
- Crystal Bomb (x8) — explodes when thrown, dealing 320 lightning damage.
- Rusty Charm — a trinket that does not grant any gameplay advantages.
There are many useful options among them, so it is easier to name ones you should not take: there is enough blood in the game (enemies drop it), a shield can be found in one of the initial locations (it is no better than the starting one), and a rusty charm is, well, a rusty charm.
The helm, in turn, grants a small increase to the maximum health, the soul stones — opportunities for improving weapons, and crystal bombs — another way to defeat your enemies. However, whatever you choose, it will not be relevant after a couple of hours.
How the world and death work in Death’s Gambit
The world of Death’s Gambit follows the same rules as any other ‘’Metroidvania’’ — all locations are interconnected, and to access some of them you have to find a certain item or find your way around. There is no teleportation or any fast travel here — you will have to do it on foot or on a horse.
You can find treasure chests throughout the game, but you can’t just open them. To access any gold chest, you must reach it from the nearest checkpoint without healing yourself. Fortunately, Death’s Gambit allows you to avoid opponents if you are quick enough, which helps greatly with unlocking such chests.
The second type of chests — those are dark brown with pink crystals — will require the player to demonstrate their strength. Each blow takes a bit of its HP away, which he restores in mere seconds. If you can inflict enough damage over a short period of time, you get a useful item, such as an improved version of healing plumes.
Another curiosity scattered around the levels of Death’s Gambit is the Journals of Immortal. These are collectibles, each of which increases the hero’s effectiveness against some of the bosses by 5%. If you thoroughly explore the environment, you will be able to gain up to 10% of additional damage against a mighty foe.
Idols are scattered around the game’s world, and you are returned to them after dying or using a certain item. These are not just checkpoints, but a place to level up your character, reassign abilities and your healing plumes. For one donated medkit you will gain 10% additional damage.
In the beginning, your hero has very few plumes — one, in fact, — but as you progress through the game, you will find more and more of them. In addition, when exploring locations and talking with NPCs, you can get new and more efficient types of plumes — some restore more health, others do it faster, and the third ones grant some kind of bonus.
Unlike Dark Souls, when dying the character does not lose the shards (souls), but one of his healing plumes. If you return to the place of your death — you can pick it up again; if you die again — you lose one more. And so on, until you have nothing left. However, these losses are not permanent, and your lost plumes will patiently wait for the protagonist.
You can return your lost plumes right at the idol, but it will cost as many shards as you need to level up at the current stage. Even if you die during a boss fight, you will get rewarded with shards for your work, which can be spent, among other things, on returning you healing items or raising one of the stats.
Therefore, you should not hesitate to explore the world. Always look around every corner — who knows that hides in there. In the worst case, you will either have to backtrack a bit or spend some shards to return the plume, but in the best, you will find a shortcut to a new location or a valuable item.
How combat and role systems work
Battles in Death’s Gambit in many ways follow the patterns of Souls games: your hero has health, endurance and Soul Energy meters. The first is obvious, the second is spent on jumps, dodges, strokes and blocks, and the latter is used for abilities.
Characters in Death’s Gambit have two weapon slots, but you will not have to sacrifice your shield for more damage — your hero will always have access to his shield, regardless of the chosen equipment (except for the paired daggers). So do not forget to shield from enemy attacks.
Each combat ability is linked to one or another type of weapon, so using a scythe ability while holding a sword will not work. In this regard, every time you change weapons, you have to look for the appropriate merchant. During your journey around the world, you will find characters who will eventually move to the central hub location and reveal their trading intentions.
Enemies always drop shards on death — this is your main source of income and, less often, of various items. In the early stages of the walkthrough, the currency can be scarce, so we offer a small trick for those in need. The merchant on the upper ‘’floor’’ of the Sanctuary sells an item called Crest of Gaia for 1100 shards.
It grants you access to the location called Amulvaro’s Observatory. After taking an elevator up, rest at the idol and head forward — you will see a huge knight. After defeating him and earning your shards (from 200 to 240), head back to the checkpoint to resurrect your opponent. Repeat until you have enough to upgrade.
Except for the main stats, each hero in Death’s Gambit has passive skills. For each defeated boss, the player receives one Talent Point, which can be spent on unlocking these perks. Apart from three positions (two in the beginning and one in the end), these are identical between all classes.
You should think about how to develop those skills carefully. First, there is no way to redistribute talents, and, second, no matter how hard you try, you can’t buy all possible perks in one playthrough.
As for the bosses themselves, the battles with them are multi-staged — it means that after a certain amount of damage inflicted, (it will be marked on the enemy’s health bar) you opponent will acquire new techniques. After defeating any of the bosses, you can ask for a Heroic Rematch (in this mode, an already deadly enemy will become even more dangerous).