Gauntlet back in the day was all about you and 3 other players attempting to hack and slash their way through what seemed to be a never-ending maze of walls and hordes of enemies. It was the time of the arcade and machines were created to suck quarter after quarter away from your pocket in an attempt to either make you go poor or until you beat the game you were playing and Gauntlet was no exception. Players took to the digital arena with 1 of 4 classes; Warrior, Wizard, Elf (Ranger) and the Valkyrie in search of loot, danger and of course food. It was a fun experience then and now it seems that Arrowhead Games has taken it upon themselves to bring back that classic experience with a few new twists.
Game Name: Gauntlet
Publisher(s): Warner Bros
Developer(s): Arrowhead Games
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Reviewed On: PC
What’s old is new again
Fast forward to 2014 and Arrowhead Games has released an update to the classic arcade title and added a few changes to it. For those who have played the original game in either the arcade or even the Nintendo Entertainment System then this will seem very familiar however for those who have played the “Sequels” of Gauntlet, you’ll notice very quickly that things are not the same. Since this title is a remake of the original Gauntlet it introduces the top-down view unlike previous iterations of Gauntlet Legends, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy and Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. Despite the return of the original view, the action is just as fast paced as ever and it shouldn’t take anyone much time to get used to this. They’ve even brought back the “Death Run” in which you must run for your life and avoid making contact with “Death” and his/her minions while taking out enemies for loot and keys that are needed to unlock doors that would otherwise deny you a path and eventually trap you leaving you to your doom. Arrowhead has also added a combo system in the game which works by using a multiplier which increases by how the number enemies your kill and how fast you kill them. This helps push the competitive nature of the title which rewards the gamer with a higher score and more gold. Gone is the 100 level dungeon run and replacing it is a much lower system with 3 stages per chapter and 4 chapters in total, a tad on the short side. And yes the food can still be destroyed, so watch where you’re attacking!
An Elf, Warrior, Valkyrie and Wizard walk into a dungeon
The original 4 characters make their return to the title but with some changes here. Each character has a host of new abilities that they’ll need to in order to survive. The warrior can now charge into his enemies and has a massive ax swing that can level just about anything around him, the Valkyrie has a spear charge similar to the warrior’s charge and is pretty useful for quick attacks and getting you out of the way of harm. She also has a shield tossing ability similar to Captain America which you can use to mow down enemies in either a straight line or surrounding enemies as the shield will also hit them on the return. The Elf is standard fare but also has the ability to lay a bomb and it can later be upgraded to shoot that bomb across the screen with an arrow, pretty useful for when he isn’t able to harm certain enemies with his arrows such as the towers as arrows simply bounce off of them. He can also charge his arrow for a single powerful blow and being that he is an Elf he also has a useful dodge which makes him the best character or at least the one that’s always chosen first (Get off my ELF!@!!!!). And then we have the wizard who is the most interesting of them all.
Seeing how Arrowhead also created the Magicka series they thought it would be a good idea to also incorporate the magic system from that title into Gauntlet and the Wizard benefits from it greatly. Instead of using a wand and using a simple arcane attack, the Wizard is a powerhouse, this time, around or a glass cannon I should say. By pressing a combination of buttons, players who use the Wizard can utilize several offense spells such as an Ice Beam, Fireball, Chain Lightning of which have several variations that can also affect multiple enemies as well as defense spells such as the Storm Barrier. In total, the Wizard has 9 spells at his disposal.
Each class has their own unique play-style and ensures that each character plays different and when you’re partnered up with 3 others, well it’s a grand time to be held by all. And just to be sure that people don’t end up picking the same character on accident or purpose classes are limited to one per play session meaning that you can’t have a multiple Wizard nuking session, no matter how awesome that sounds. Also awarded to characters are masteries which are passive bonuses and are gained by completing a set of objectives that range from dying a certain amount of times or killing a specific amount of enemies and so forth. The nice thing about masteries is that they can be leveled up by playing the game and you don’t need to spend a single skill point on them, they just accumulate on their own.
If you gotta go, go in style.
Another addition to the game is the store where you can spend the gold you’ve acquired and once you’ve beaten a chapter you can use that gold to upgrade the appearance of your character and upgrade some of your abilities with relics. Relics are items that either affect your abilities or give you added abilities to use as long as you have the mana to use them. Ranging from a relic that gives you a massive tornado that tosses enemies aside, relics that can increase you speed and even ones that add to your offensive abilities. Relics can also be upgraded for an added few and can be bumped up two levels and as you do max them out they change how the relics work, it’s a pretty deep system. You can also purchase armor that changes the look of your character but they also depend on how far you’ve progressed in the game. Sadly the armor doesn’t give any extra benefit other than making you look different and I don’t recommend wasting the gold on them and instead use it for relics.
The sights and sounds of destruction
While the graphics in Gauntlet won’t tax your system they do a fantastic job of portraying an epic journey and the engine can handle tons of enemies on screen at once, but don’t take my word for it and find out for yourself. The sound effects are also standard fare and while they aren’t anything to write home about they do get the job done. The music also does a good job but don’t expect an orchestra-themed soundtrack or something that you would find in say Diablo III.
What's old is new again with some new twists
What's old is new again with some new twists
While this game is a blast to play on the PC, this a co-op/party title and not many PC gamers have moved their computers or have a second computer that is accessible to everyone or in their living room for everyone else to play with them. This title cries “let’s play” and would be right at home on a console, regardless if it’s a past-generation or current generation title. That said, Arrowhead has gone on record and stated that there are no plans to bring this title to the consoles, a real shame. That said you can’t go wrong with Gauntlet and while it is a bit short, it is a fun game especially when you’re playing with others. The title is solid and I highly recommend it and a few friends to slash the night away.
- The magic system that the wizard uses is straight out of the Magicka game series.
- Each character has a special attack that can be utilized to to some hefty damage or to bail themselves or a friend out of a tricky situation.
- Gauntlet is a fun and fast paced game and is the perfect party game to have some laughs with.
- Sadly this seems to be the perfect party game that isn’t on a console.
- The valkyrie is a bit under-powered.
- Action gets a bit boring when playing solo.
- The game is on the short side and takes about 4-5 hours to beat. No 100 level dungeons here gang.
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