Gambit! is an apt title for this game, as developers XReal have taken a gamble with their early PR promotional materials. They’ve promoted it as a 20-plus hour campaign when it’s actually a four-hour campaign with a roadmap. XReal’s approach is shady, and if the industry follows suit, it could lead to trouble.
Despite this, let’s focus on the game itself.
Gambit! is a four-player looter shooter. Players go through levels with basic weapons, earn cash, unlock more stuff, and play repeatedly. It’s a gameplay style that works well when done right, like in After the Fall. Unfortunately, Gambit!’s execution falls short, with monotonous, repetitive gameplay. Each mission is a wave shooter with slight variations in environment and enemies.
That’s the whole game—disappointingly shallow and lacking in enjoyment. It’s as if someone unfamiliar with games created a checklist of what gamers like, but no one actually tested the game for fun.
The campaign features three levels, each with a series of checkpoints. With three lives and the ability to buy extra lives, there are no stakes or consequences. Dying simply means restarting from the last checkpoint, removing tension and joy from the game.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
There are four distinct characters with unique special weapons, which initially seemed promising. However, these weapons don’t significantly impact gameplay. Once players unlock decent guns like a shotgun or assault rifle, the special weapons lose their appeal.
This realization further emphasizes the game’s repetitive wave shooter nature. While there’s plenty of content and activities, such as graffiti spraying (which was the most enjoyable part of the game), it doesn’t save Gambit! from being monotonous.
Graphically, the game is muddy and lacks a cohesive art direction. Some aspects appear cartoony, while others strive for realism, resulting in a disjointed visual experience. The game’s visuals are inconsistent, ranging from PS2 quality to decent Quest graphics. It lacks a clear visual identity. Adopting a cel-shaded, comic book style for both gameplay and cutscenes could have improved the game’s tone and made it more cohesive.
From an audio perspective, Gambit! is satisfactory. While the spatial audio is decent, it pales in comparison to other games like Breachers, where outstanding spatial audio is essential for survival. Unfortunately, not every game can be a masterpiece.
At times, there’s no music, which is an odd choice, especially in multiplayer. This silence takes away from the action, energy, and excitement, making the game feel stale and disheartening.
Gun effects in the game are a mixed bag. The shotgun and assault rifle sound great, providing satisfying feedback. However, some weapons, like the magnum-style handgun, have hollow and empty sound effects. The inconsistency in sound effects detracts from the overall experience.
The voice acting is impressive, despite the poor scripting. The dialogue is juvenile, filled with gratuitous swearing and edginess that might appeal to younger players. Nonetheless, the actors did a commendable job with the material they were given.
Multiplayer modes are an important aspect to consider if deciding to play this game. There are various modes, but they all involve playing the same levels from the single-player campaign. Options include deathmatch and municipal mayhem, which may offer some fun. However, it’s worth noting that finding a multiplayer game during peak times proved difficult on four separate attempts.
The lack of player engagement within days of the game’s release is concerning. If you’re considering buying Gambit! for its looter shooter genre and replayability, be cautious, as the core gameplay isn’t very enjoyable. If you want it for the multiplayer experience, be aware that there may not be many players to join you. This low player count in multiplayer modes is a significant drawback, especially for those who value online gameplay.
Gambit! was not an enjoyable experience. The game’s shortcomings, such as its repetitive gameplay, lack of cohesive art direction, and inconsistent sound effects, contribute to an overall disappointing experience. While there may be worse games, if you’re looking for a looter shooter, get the aforementioned After the Fall instead. For multiplayer shooters, you’re better off with Breachers or Larcenauts, both of which offer a different but amazing experience.