Pirates and curses go together like tea and biscuits, and a cursed pirate crew is exactly the subject of Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew, the latest tactical adventure by Mimimi Games. Set in the Lost Caribbean, you lead an undead crew of pirates against The Inquisition, a religious order that has an aim to rid the world of the pirates, and bring in a world of complete, strict order under the rule of Ignacia.
Just as with their previous games, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun and Desperados III, this is a strategy game all about combining the abilities of your different crew members. You start off with Afia, who has the ability to Blink and cross spaces as well as take out guards, but you’ll soon have added more to your crew. As a few examples, Suleidy can grow plants for cover as well as make enemies move away from here, Teresa is a sniper, and Pinkus can possess guards and move control them within a set radius.
At the start the majority of the crew are essentially dead, so you have to complete missions to find soul energy and black pearls so you can revive them in the order of your choice – you can read their biography and discover their skills before making the choice. Each character does have limits, with Teresa needing to have her bullet retrieved to fire again, and Suleidy only being able to create one plant for cover at a time, but these limits can be eased by earning and spending Vigor on upgrade points – Teresa’s upgraded ability means that other characters can collect the bullet for her.
Missions are set across ten different islands, each with their own challenges and characteristics to contend with. Some are large islands with plenty of opportunities to hide and strike against guards, while others are much smaller with a higher density of guards, meaning more planning needs to be done. Every successful run depends on planning and utilising the strengths of each character, whether it’s to be stealthy, cause distractions, or to go in for the kill. Thankfully you can act in real time, or pause the action and plan moves out for more critical moments.
Another important crutch is the quick save feature, as it often is in this genre. These are called memories, and actually feed into the story, using and saving as many memories as you like as you play. It is a really good system that allows you to experiment with different approaches and get used to each character’s abilities. You will need these memories as failure is part of the journey, and some of the longer missions can take an hour to complete. If that’s not enough to help you get through the game, there are four different difficulty settings which can also be customised and adjusted.
Outside of the missions, the time is spent on the Red Marley which is the crew’s ship and hub. On here, characters can talk to each other along with each having their own side stories within the Crew Tales. There are five parts to each character’s story, but you cannot do them all in one go, with each part coming between missions. They are completely optional and do not have any major benefits in terms of character upgrades, but it does give the characters more depth.
Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew does have a couple of issues, though. For example, when exiting doors from cover the characters freeze a bit, causing delays in getting them to move. The pause planning is serviceable, but it could also be more intuitive too as occasionally it was not clear what actions were happening and what had been cancelled. This is not so much a bug but an annoyance on how long certain kill animations take, meaning if an enemy view cone comes into focus on that area, they will raise the alarm nine times out of ten.