Originally released on PS4 and PC in 2014, developer White Rabbit could have just simply ported Death’s Gambit to Switch and have been done with it.
But why take the easy option? Instead, the developer has been hard at work improving Death’s Gambit, taking feedback received since the game’s launch on board to deliver a new, updated version that’s simply better in practically every way. The result is Death’s Gambit: Afterlife.
The premise remains the same: playing as a warrior named Sorun, meeting an easy demise finds you making a deal with Death himself. He’ll make it so that death is just an inconvenience for you, but in return you must put an end to a powerful being that holds the key to immortality.
Throughout Sorun’s journey you’ll learn more about him and his life, and while Death’s Gambit: Afterlife‘s story isn’t going to have a lasting effect on you, it is enjoyable to unravel. It benefits from voice acting, too. Well, apart from Sorun himself – perhaps because of the game’s character customisation options.
It’s in the gameplay department that Death’s Gambit: Afterlife is most noticeably improved. Whereas Death’s Gambit was a 2D action adventure with brutal combat at its core, Afterlife leans much more on the metroidvania format. The result is a game that’s bigger, has more depth, and ultimately much more engrossing.
Ten new areas can be explored in Death’s Gambit: Afterlife – some large, some small – and tweaks have been made to the map overall. Shortcuts enable you to move around the game’s world more easily, as does the inclusion of an actual map that you can bring up for reference at any time. You’ll likely need to consult it, too, if you want to explore every nook and cranny.
Of course, you won’t be able to go anywhere you want from the outset. Skills such as double jump, air dash and more are now doled out as you make your way through the game and defeat bosses, granting you access to new areas. There’s also the power aspect to consider; when you first start Death’s Gambit: Afterlife you’ll be a weakling, but by levelling up and acquiring better equipment you’ll be able to take on more challenging encounters.
Character development is another big improvement in Death’s Gambit: Afterlife. For one, there are now many more weapons to acquire, each with their own move set. You’ll need to keep your weapon of choice in mind when levelling up, too. If you decide to wield a scythe, for example, you’ll want to pump points into finesse rather than strength to increase your damage output.
As you level up you’ll also acquire talent points. These can now be placed in multiple talent trees, allowing you to develop your character to suit your playstyle. Chances are, the character you build will be very different to those of your friends. Ultimately, it gives Death’s Gambit: Afterlife a wonderful feeling of freedom and depth.
All of this, along with many other tweaks, makes Death’s Gambit: Afterlife one of the best metroidvania games currently available. Though there’s just one thing that might put some players off: the brutal combat. Some of the bosses here are truly fiendish, requiring you to face off against them time and time again until you’ve memorised their attacks and formulated an effective strategy.
If you have a Switch and love metroidvania games or revel in brutal combat, Death’s Gambit: Afterlife deserves your attention. With its beautiful visuals, pleasant soundtrack and enjoyable gameplay, it’s pretty much the full package. Only the crushing nature of the combat will be a bone of contention here for some, but others will love it.
Death’s Gambit: Afterlife Review – GameSpew’s Score