If Skull and Bones has left you hungry for a better pirate game, give this one a try

Mimimi’s game

After a long journey filled with delays, Ubisoft’s Skull and bones finally out. This multiplayer pirate game sailed through troubled waters to get to where it is today, but its launch was anything but smooth. So far the game has received mixed reactions, despite its impressive combat and visuals. These highlights were unable to turn the tide of criticism, as some reviewers were less than impressed with its narrative and repetitive missions.

Skull and bones envisioned as an extension of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flagits naval combat mechanisms, but its scope became larger during development. Even Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that it was an “AAAA” game. justify charging $70 for it. But what if you could experience a pirate adventure that only costs half as much and also has charming characters? You can if you try Shadow Gambit: Cursed Crew.

A literal skeleton crew

Shadow Gambit: Cursed Crew occurred in the same period as Skull and bones: The Golden Age of Piracy. But developer Mimimi takes a paranormal approach to its strategy game as a mysterious curse has brought the dead back to life and given them superpowers. As the Inquisition hunts the undead, you, as one of the undead, must stop them and steal their treasure.

Shadow Gambit: Cursed Crew Characters.
Mimimi’s game

The supernatural aspect is already a unique premise, but it’s the characters that really make a splash. The story follows Afia Manicato, the ship’s navigator, whose shining purple eyes hide a caring and sensible personality. As a cursed individual, his body is made of flesh like a normal human, but his left arm is made entirely of bone. Instead of using the scabbard, he tucked his sword into the center of his chest and the sharp edge just hung on his back.

I love how charismatic and creative the character designs are. Throughout the story, Afia is able to revive the crew with the Black Pearl she found and invites them to join her. One of them, Quentin Aalbers, is a greedy treasure hunter who carries a giant treasure chest as a backpack and wields a fishing rod. What really stands out about his design is that even though he has no head at all, he holds a gold skull with a bejeweled crown, symbolizing his materialism. The rest of the body is a regular skeleton, but you can’t help but think of the golden skull as its actual head. While this may or may not be what the developers intended, it is a very thoughtful character design.

After each mission, you can also engage in Crew Tales around the ship, which are like the individual character episodes you see in RPGs. They add a lot of depth and ensure this character design is more than just a pretty face. In particular, I was drawn to the ship’s cook, Toya from Iga, because of her Japanese heritage and her very funny Crew Tale.

As he prepares the giant fish to eat, Toya suddenly finds out that the fish is still alive and the fish surprisingly knows the background of Toya’s killer. The fish then asks to be trained, and Toya, too clumsy to say no, now finds himself with an aquatic ninja student. That’s just one of nine Crew Tales, and each one is as entertaining as the next.

Sea of ​​thieves

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew shows levels.
Mimimi’s game

Shadow Gambit: Cursed CrewThe gameplay, like many other games in the real-time strategy genre, takes an isometric view. In each mission, you are allowed to deploy up to three characters to achieve your goal, whether it be stealing a specific artifact or eliminating a target. While the goal is limited, the ways you can achieve it are nearly limitless.

The level design is perfect, with guards walking back and forth and lots of obstacles like cliffs and rivers. With only three characters, these islands may seem intimidating and impenetrable at first, but once you learn how to strategize with their abilities, the house of cards will start to crumble.

You can mix and match your crewmates’ abilities to find synergies between them. Gaelle, the ship’s cannon, can shoot her allies to higher ground. Quentin can pull his allies up from the ground, so their two abilities complement each other perfectly to help them traverse the map in no time (there’s even an achievement for that). Experimenting with each character’s abilities to see what tricks you can pull off is satisfying.

Shadow Gambit : A Cursed Crew character having a chat.
Mimimi’s game

I love it Shadow Gambit actively encourages experimentation with its storage systems as well. In other strategy games, I’ve often been afraid to commit to a move, thinking it might be bad. However, Shadow Gambit gives you three slots to record your progress and provides in-universe explanations to save on waste. While some might argue that this feature reduces the difficulty, I can continue without fear, knowing that I can rewind time if something goes wrong.

Too bad Shadow Gambit: Cursed Crew ended up being Mimimi’s last game, as the studio announced that it would be shutting down last year. It perfects its skills in real-time strategy genre with games like the incredible feudal journey of 2016 Shadow Tactics: Shogun’s Blade and the great western cowboy of 2020 Despair III. Fifteen years of experience culminated in one of the best pirate adventures ever told. Even though Mimimi has sailed into the afterlife, I’m so grateful that the studio left behind a treasure trove of amazing games worth remembering.

Shadow Gambit: Cursed Crew available for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.

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