Gauntlet was not among the arcades that I played at during the dieing days of the arcade golden age. I've no idea what I would have thought about it then, either, but I absolutely love the idea of the genre. Monster spawners. Keys. Traps. Treasure. Hack & slash action. It all makes for a great dungeon crawler. However, Gauntlet games by modern standards are decidedly shallow and monotonous (proceedural levels withstanding, it's always been that way in my opinion). Arrowhead seized the opportunity to quicken the series and elaborate it for modern gamers and expectations, and who better than the creators of 'Magicka' to do it. Arrowhead has indeed elaborated upon everything seen in the classic games. Or have they?
One absolutely critical thing is nowhere to be found (barely, anyway). Proceedural level design. You know, the reason most people could continue to enjoy the originals time and again? Gauntlet™ offers a fairly modest selection of mostly static levels, 9 in total, each with several floors, and 3 more levels reserved for boss fights. Honestly, the design Arrowhead went with doesn't do the gameplay any justice. While they are nice to look at, they will eventually become mind-numbing to run through continually, (sooner rather than later for Gauntlet purists) especially since there are only three dungeon themes. Here's hoping for big DLC in the future.
There's also a modest amount of other content such as the gold shop that sells Relics which are powerful, limited-use specials that require potions found within maps, and interchangeable aesthetics that serve no practical purpose. There's also character bonuses known as 'Masteries' which you unlock by performing certain tasks. The bonuses are not very noticeable at first but they really add up the more you unlock. The Elf and the Warrior particularly need the damage masteries for their Light Attacks to retain practicality on higher difficulties. Masteries are not shared and must be unlocked on each champion, as such, it's best to focus on one or two, maximum.
If there's is one reason to play it's for the coop experience. If there's two it's for the coop and the gameplay the classes offer (the combination of the two can be oh so magnificent, especially on a couch with buddies). Each class is solid (not counting balance issues) and has distinctive abilities. I, myself love the wizard so much I can see past the negatives of the game because the experience is such a rush once you've learned his spells. One final reason to play: for the challenge of it! Unfair difficulty allows very few mistakes as there are no heal items, beyond Relics.
- No lobby or in-game chat (this can be seriously frustrating when someone obviously needs something explained)
- Cheat Engine and Trainer users ruining coop/competition
- Bad optimization
If you can stomach the fact that this is a Gauntlet game with mostly static levels, you may accidentally enjoy yourself! Static or proceedural, this Gauntlet is a dungeon-crawler and has fine coop and hack & slash style gameplay and possesses a decent challenge for higher level players (but perhaps could use a 'Nightmare' difficulty).
The archtypical melee class. Thor's style is brutish and wreckless, requiring the him to always be up close.
- Light Attack: a two combo arcing swing with his axe; each swing covers roughly 180 degrees
- Cleave: a lengthy but powerful leaping overhead chop; it's possible but difficult to hit more than one enemy with it
- Rush: dashing attack that bashes enemies from your path and knocks them down; takes a moment to charge and deals no damage unless you have the mastery which allows you to attack during the charge; thor seems to be invincible during the charge
- Spin Attack: Thor makes several quick 360 sweeps and ends with a long-range slash; invincible while active.
Thyra is a more defensive, finesse-based fighter but can put out a truckload of damage in a short time
- Light Attack: Similar to Thor's but noticably faster (hence safer).
- Spear Thrust: after a brief delay, Thyra rushes forward, lungeing her spear; very powerful and mows through anything in the way; Thrya blocks all damage roughly 180 degrees in front during the start of the attack;
- Shield Block: Thyra guards with her shield blocking all damage very close to if not 180 degrees; Thyra will retaliate against melee strikes with a shield bash; will even block AoE attacks as along as she is facing the center; can move while blocking.
- Shield Throw: Thyra tosses her shield forward a moderate distance; can bounce to nearby enemies roughly 2 dozen times before returning; harms enemies in the way of its return; high damage!
The token magic-user. Merlin's versatility and raw power allow him to be both a powerhouse and a life-saver.
- Cast Spell: Casts whatever spell Merlin currently has invoked
- Conjure Fire: spells include a fire arrow; an explosive, lobbed fireball; a teleport which sets enemies in Merlin's path ablaze
- Conjure Lighting: spells include a static, protective globe that blocks most damage and knocks enemies back; a melee-ranged, conical force blast; arcing lightning which can jump nearly a dozen times if enemies are lined up
- Conjure Ice: spells include an ice beam; a static, chilling orb which slows enemies in a large radius; a conical, short-ranged freeze.
The token ranger. Questor is straight-forward and by far the easiest class to play (discounting Valkyrie's spear spam of Win). Mastering Sniper Shot and his manueverability are key to getting the most out of him.
- Light Attack: Questor fires rapid but short-ranged snap-shots (fairly useless on higher difficulties)
- Sniper Shot: Questor fully draws his bow for a shot that instantly kills most enemies in the game, has seemingly unlimited range, but is low damage otherwise; fires an explosive arrow if Bomb is activated while Sniper Shot is toggled (shorter fuse but deals less damage than a dropped bomb and sacrifices blast radius)
- Dodge Roll: Questor leaps forward a huge distance; fast and is unimpeded by enemies; partial invincibility
- Bomb: Questor drops an explosive which detonates after a couple seconds