NEED TO KNOW
What is it? Stealthy squad tactics with an undead pirate crew
Release date August 17, 2023
Expect to pay $40/£35
Developer Mimimi Games
Publisher Mimimi Games
Reviewed on Windows 11, Nvidia 4090, Intel i9-13900k, 64gb DDR5 RAM
Steam Deck TBA
Link Official site
Mimimi is a studio that understands its niche. Shadow Tactics, Desperados 3 and now Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew are fundamentally the same game; tactical squad stealth where players must quick-save and load until they can pull off a flawless heist. This time around, Mimimi is celebrating the power to quicksave. Easily taken for granted, Shadow Gambit makes it a magical plot macguffin and the power of the Red Marley, your sapient pirate galleon.
For newcomers to the series and genre, Shadow Tactics, Desperados 3 and Shadow Gambit are what Mimimi defines as ‘stealth strategy’ games. Take your Metal Gears, Hitmans or Splinter Cells and pull the camera up to an RTS perspective and give the player a small squad of sneaky sorts to complete their goals and get out intact. From this elevated perspective, players are free to plot, plan and see exactly where every guard is looking, which is good, because these maps tend to be absolutely lousy with guards patrols.
Sailing into uncharted waters with a crew of cursed, undead pirates. What could go wrong? (Image credit: Mimimi Games)
Despite Shadow Gambit’s missions being smaller on average than in Desperados (most around 20-30 minutes, with the occasional hour-long setpiece), this is a bountiful barrel of grog, clocking in at around thirty hours long, and unlocking a pirate’s hoard of post-game challenges to encourage replaying previous missions. With flexible difficulty settings (letting you tweak enemy placement, AI response times and even how many times you’re allowed to save per mission) and multiple approaches to every mission, there’s plenty of reason to replay earlier islands here. While I never really felt compelled to return to Mimimi’s earlier games, I can see myself reinstalling this as a regular event.
Whether it’s experimenting with powers, working out the perfect play or just speedrunning, I can see each player finding their own reason to return long after the story’s conclusion. This one’s a real treasure, even if you might have to dig a bit to get to the really shiny plunder.