I have played my fair share of Gauntlet games in my day. Originally in the arcades, every death meant I had to pump more quarters into the machine. Now, with the series hitting multiple consoles spanning different generations, Gauntlet is back after a rather long hiatus. Is it back to the feelings we all know and love, or was that really just me looking back with rose-tinted glasses? After playing this, I may be going with the latter.
In a very arcadey fashion, Gauntlet puts players in the role of one of four classes. In a top-down view, they will hack and slash (or shoot arrows and fireballs depending on the class) at hoards of enemies while they try to make it through the dungeons while gathering as much gold as they can. Don’t forget getting chased by death himself in some of the more frantic levels.
Progression is done not through leveling up, but through masteries. There are even death masteries that will allow characters to not take as much damage from certain traps if they die enough from them. Basically, doing normal stuff throughout the game will allow players to get better at that certain skill. It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but it at least let me improve my characters.
The classic classes are all back, and each plays very differently from one another. The Warrior is a brutal melee fighter, the Valkyrie utilizes her shield to both block and attack from afar, the Elf uses bows and bombs and the Wizard combines elements to fire off magical attacks. Each has their own play style and really changes up how the player will handle situations, but in the end, most of it is pretty mindless.
The standout here is the co-op play. Online multiplayer with three other people was a frantic, hack n slash mess, but in a good way. Since it didn’t take much thought to play, we ended up have a fun time just hacking away at enemies while talking. Also, fighting for the crown when someone would get hit quickly became the meta-game of it all, even though the crown does nothing except increase points at the end of the level.
The story is minimal at best, but the voice acting that is there, along with the comedic overtones are well done and even made me laugh a few times. Sure, there is no “Sexy pants!” being screamed like in Sacred 3, but the dialog that is there never takes itself seriously and gives off a bit of charm that I enjoyed.
Gauntlet isn’t much of a thinking man’s game. Find a class you like and have at it. The Wizard will be the one most people avoid, but even then, with a few other buddies along for the ride, it can be a rather fun time. Single player can get a bit more monotonous, but it is the same for the multiplayer; just having some others to share in the mindless action helps out a lot.
For $20, players get a rather fun game. Yeah, I still feel more love for the older versions of the game, but I think that’s just the nostalgia in me. Even in single player, I didn’t mind taking on the hoards of enemies with my shield throwing Valkyrie. Jumping online is where the game gets hectic, but way more fun, and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the dialog and story offer up a few laughs at times. I would say pick it up, but if you do, try to at least convince one or two friends to pick it up with you. You’ll all have a more enjoyable time together.
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