The original Gauntlet
from 1985 was one of those genre defining games, that was not only one of the first really fun co-op games I ever played, but also was the predecessor to many classic dungeon crawlers we know today like Diablo, Sacred, Path of Exile, Magicka, Baldur's Gate, Dungeon Defenders or even instance dungeons of World of Warcraft. Spawning a classic sequel & several modern remakes on the consoles, Gauntlet has endured the decades, although the modern 3D versions failed to capture the feel from the originals for me. So here we are in 2014 with another remake, one making the bold claim to the title, simply 'Gauntlet', has a lot to live up to!
For those familiar with the original games, first time you start you will be hit with a good dose of nostalgia
. Retro sounds from the original are remixed into the modern music & effects, the logo & look all feels familiar but fresh. Great sound really sets the scene & gets you pumped! I liked the graphics look & the lighting, not super HD but clean and easy to see what is going on. Monster designs were also well done.All the trademark Gauntlet features you expect are included
, ranging from the 4 well defined character classes, the puzzle like mazing map designs, lotsa gold!, keys, turkeys (& friends to steal them :p)
, potions, jump platforms, spawners, grim reaper & the awesome narrator telling the classics like “Warrior needs food .. badly!”
& “Wizard is about to die!”
. All this feels authentic & refined, honouring the originals faithfully, but there is also many new features & enhancements.
Besides the obvious move into 3D, all the characters have got new moves & upgrades. Each has 3 attack types, plus ability for 2 Relics (basically power-moves)
, each using unique controller configurations. You can combine your attacks in different ways, & also with other classes based on the situation. Most moves have both strengths & weaknesses so the right selection (plus aiming & timing)
is key to survival.http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=318842086 Basic character class are as follows:
* Warrior (Thor)
is great in mowing down large groups, although weaker against ranged, hard to excel at but tough overall.
* Valkyrie (Thyra)
is good defender with shield, also versatile & powerful offensive moves, but weak destroying spawners.
* Elf (Questor)
is fast & nimble able to attack from almost any range, good AoE bomb damage for groups but needs space to operate effectively.
* Wizard (Merlin)
is the most complex, yet highly adaptable class, with 9 spell combinations both offensive & defensive, it can be seen as over-powered but requires a lot more skill to play.
(There is more to each class but it gives you a rough outline.)
Adapting to the battle is fluid & fun to control though & when mastered, combat can become epic! The combat control system is simple by many modern game standards, but it’s really exceptionally balanced, intuitive & accessible – one of the strongest features of the game!
Each character class independently can gain 72 Mastery Levels (XP levels)
which will unlock perks & upgrades to progress further on the Hard or Unfair difficulty. Each difficulty level needs to be unlocked for each character & higher levels do offer a really intense challenge. This adds a lot of replayability as does the many in-game ‘grindy’
achievements you can earn at the end of each level that give you buffs or boosts. There are some cosmetic items you can purchase for the coins you earn in the dungeons, to change the look of your character. There aren’t very many though. Likewise, there are some (few more)
Relics, but overall there isn’t a lot of selections for those wanting high level of customisation.
Despite all the positive design choices, the authentic feel & just plain enjoyable co-op gameplay, Gauntlet has one fatal flaw … the lack of content, specifically the number of dungeon levels
There is 3 zones each with 4 dungeons, some multiple levels, but overall only 30ish
levels in total. This includes 3 boss arenas that have no exploration. This will only take 4-5hrs to play through Solo @ Normal. The original Gauntlet I/II had 100s of levels (if memory serves)
, practically endless random dungeons to conquer. See how far you could survive with your buddies, but you just don't get that feeling here.
Replaying levels for each character & difficulty level is fine, but with so few levels I have already started to memorise the layouts. I fear this lack of variety will make this a short lived experience with many gamers, when I could have seen it be my go-to favourite game for a while. I really hope to see lots of new dungeons or at the least support for community workshop maps or a random generated endless mode (100s of increasingly difficulty & larger dungeons)
to provide a real hardcore on-going challenge to work with your friends towards. More items, perks, customised looks would all be welcome too!
Although I agree with having no chat in the game, having text chat in the lobby &/or hub would be most helpful. Currently, there is no way to communicate
at all with other team mates if not in your friends’ list. Also, it is very limiting in public games when players cannot join in mid-level, you can only join when in a lobby – but who wants to wait in a lobby for that elusive 4th player to drop in, or to go back to lobby every time to find another player when someone drops mid-level? It’s not a smooth experience & comes off as rather basic, along with making it very hard to get a full team together. Matchmaking does seem to work well at least.
Playing with friends is an absolute blast & with so much else done right the limited content can be ignored (for a while)
along with the online multiplayer limitations I mentioned above. It's a supremely enjoyable experience. Whether you have played the originals or not, this is a solid action dungeon crawler that succeeds in recreating that uniquely 'Gauntlet’
Find some friends & have some fun! Dibbs on Valkyrie .. and … No destroying the food! :)