Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew Review – Excellent tactics, rocky seas

Reviewed August 16, 2023 on PC


PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


August 17, 2023


Mimimi Games


Mimimi Games

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is the newest stealth tactics game from Desperados III and Shadow Tactics genre smiths Mimimi Games. With the studio starting a pirate-themed new IP with this title, it makes for some swashbuckling fun and some of the most inventive stealth mechanics that could only come from such a talented studio. I just wish it came from a game that hasn’t let me down so far with its tech and a handful of bugs.

The game follows the re-founding of the crew on the sentient ghostly ship known as the Red Marley. Players start out controlling only the main character Afia, a striking undead individual with supernatural powers that let her ‘blink,’ teleporting longer distances across the battlefield. With the Red Marley entirely in disarray and the undead crew now just plain old dead, you must work through various tactical missions on a series of islands, engaging in a power struggle with a cult in hopes of restoring the crew to its former glory.

One of the best feelings in Shadow Gambit is how tangible progress is. To be able to resurrect any given party member, you need to go on at least two missions, each netting you either a ‘Black Pearl,’ or ‘Soul Energy,’ to then be used to bring someone back. In real-time, you feel like your tactical team is growing and the excitement of discovering the creative new mechanics a new member brings is always constant.

There have been characters with varied abilities in Mimimi Games’ prior titles, though not like this. Like other stealth games such as Hitman, one of the big worries is finding safe hiding spots for the bodies of enemies you’ve dispatched. Already, patches of tall grass, doors in structures and haystacks will do the job here but in times of desperation Suleidy, a shamanic Witch Doctor can use seeds to spontaneously sprout new bushes. This means a corpse can be obscured more or less instantaneously, removing the frantic dragging or carrying to a safe spot. Complimenting this are characters like Gaëlle, a burly woman carrying a canon. Her ammunition is the literal people you take down or your teammates. This means you can fire a teammate or an eliminated enemy into a safe spot or otherwise unreachable surface. You can also use a body to knock out another foe. How very evil.

Of course, Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is at its best when you feel you’ve pulled off the impossible, dodging the vision cones of an enemy’s path so you can sneak into a stronghold and poke holes in their security. Y’know. The good stuff. Thankfully one of the tools under your belt is the very encouraged quick save feature to ‘save scum,’ creating points in time just in case a risky play doesn’t pan out. The game even contextualises these in its world, labeling these save points as Memories. This meta marriage of gameplay and the world goes one step further in-game with players’ ability to pause the game world, assigning one action (move here, kill a foe, etc) and hitting execute to resume time and have many events pulled off simultaneously, labeled as ‘Shadow Mode.’

The other MVP for pulling off ridiculous feats is Pinkers, a regal chap who can use his soul to possess patrolling enemies and pose as them. From there, if you’re careful enough, you can piggyback between enemies, extending your reach further and further across a map all while hiding in plain sight from a foe. As an absolute fiend for systems-heavy games and stealth mechanics, I feel like I’ve had my third eye opened for the genre, experiencing some of the best in the niche space in years.

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is a game very intent on having players spend dozens upon dozens of hours inside its world. Along with the returning challenge medals and feats for players to work towards in missions, ticking off a completion list, there are now challenge rooms and side stories for your cast of characters. In your downtime between jobs, you can chat away on the Marley, engaging in hijinks such as Suleidy healing the entire crew of a ghost parasite and samurai-like crew member inadvertently taking on and tutoring a talking fish. These are all well worth engaging in because there’s quite the funny and novel writing in there, along with the bonus that this adds to your slowly growing ‘Vigor’ level, with each time this levels up it netting you a valuable upgrade to a crew member’s ability effectiveness.

In saying all of that, it’s time I talk about how disappointed I am that Shadow Gambit has also left me a little wanting. The story’s fine and not all that exciting, instead reveling in its supernatural and wicked vibes and themes. This isn’t all that egregious an issue but nevertheless is noticeable when one of the studio’s last games, Desperados III concluded an epic decades-long story.

The mission structure is also a mixed bag. Instead of the prior approach of individual, isolated missions and locations that lead into the next, you’re traveling between the same set of islands. Yes, this means you can intimately know the ins and outs of a location as you visit for either a main story task or a resource run for a Black Pearl, but that’s a double-edged sword. Your time with the game bleeds together. Jaunts through areas begin to feel repetitious and they too don’t lend themselves to some of the epic setpieces we’ve come to know from Mimimi.

With how many moving parts are ongoing in systems-heavy games like this, it’s a miracle they run at all. Dozens upon dozens of characters with different pathways and animations. Mechanics that foster you breaking the game down. It’s a cool thing to see in action. However, the seams are visible a little more this time around with the considerable amount of technical issues I’ve had with the game. When there are a lot of actions going on on-screen the game will often freeze or stutter before it chugs itself back into place. This also created immersion ruining music and audio cues audibly skipping. I experienced little fleeting moments of that in prior games from the developer, but now they’re a lot more frequent.

The most gutwrenching issue are the few times now that I’ve run into progress preventing bugs. A few times now a compulsory mission struggled to trigger a certain event to conclude the job. These issues eventually sorted themselves out with a patch or two but may still see their way into the final product. It’s worth mentioning because mileage certainly may vary.

In between a rock and a hard place, Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is in a tough spot for loyal fans of the genre. Utilised is some of the best stealth mechanics I’ve ever seen and pulling off what feels like the impossible is as joyous as ever. Still, a lackluster quest structure and plenty of technical issues stop this from being the most seamless jaunt across the high seas.




  • Clever and diverse skillsets that make for excellent tactics gameplay
  • Character focused missions provide quirky and even hilarious writing
  • Bountiful opportunities and feats to work through for completionists


  • Not the most exciting mission structure
  • A handful of bugs, both minor and significant

Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew is so close to being Mimimi’s best. There are enjoyable diverse skills that make for some of the best stealth tactics gameplay we’ve ever seen. Enjoyable too is the colourful and often humorous side stories, along with plenty of feats to seek after for completionist obsessives. It may not have the most interesting main-story quest structure or be the most stable and bug-free at the moment but when Shadow Gambit gets moving it soars and sails, providing an addictive and fun tactics adventure.