Gauntlet: Review - Games Weekly

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gauntlet: Review

Roll call. Four heroes a warrior, a valkyrie, an archer, and a wizard? Check. A vast multi level dungeon stuffed with with unfathomable wealth? Check. Monsters, monsters, so many monsters where are they even coming from? Check. Locked doors all over the place and not nearly enough keys to open them all? Check. Shootable food? Annoyingly… check.
Yep, sounds like Gauntlet to me.

In the original Gauntlet, which’ll be thirty years old next year, there wasn't a great deal of difference between the four player characters. Each had their “thing” they did better than anyone else the wizard had more powerful magic, the elf was quicker on his feet but they played identically, so it was easy to jump from one character to another.

In this new Gauntlet, though, there’s a lot more differentiation. In addition to their standard attack, each character now has a unique, recharging special ability and two slots for relics, which are basically spells that you equip and upgrade with loot earned in the dungeon.
Using each character effectively means mastering the use of their special ability and building the rest of your game around it. Elves that don’t appreciate the value of a good arrow bomb might as well not even be there. Same goes for valkyries who lay off on the vanguard charge.

Switching to a new character can necessitate some significant adjustment. The wizard in particular is a whole different bag of mummy guts altogether: he's got NINE different spells to choose from, each triggered by a unique combination of keyboard/button inputs. I’m going to be honest with you: I didn't even give it a try. Too complicated. Wilks says good things, though.

Otherwise, the template established by Atari in 1985 remains largely untouched, and that’s a good thing because its appeal hasn't waned in the interim. The reboot never gets close to the original in terms of the sheer number of enemies on-screen at once, but cleverly maintains a sense of constant pressure by confining most encounters to close quarters.

And of course, just like the original, this new Gauntlet is all about the four-player co-op, which is thankfully easy to access and setup. If you’ve the time to invest in upgrading your relics and characters (who, I forgot to mention, earn buffs as they complete milestones) then the payoff in the form of a four player “Unfair” run is more than worth it.

The only problem: not enough levels. Didn't the original have like 999? Something for future DLC instalments, perhaps. For now, though, this is still excellent value for money.


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