Gauntlet, the original dungeon crawler has been given a new lease of life, and has found a new home on Steam. But does it live up to it’s predecessors? Read on to find out.
Gauntlet, as a series has been around a fair while. Longer than me in fact. The original was released as an arcade game back in 1985 by Atari, and since then it has stood the test of time, and even spawned a few catch phrases “Red warrior needs food badly!”.
Arrowhead Game Studios have taken an iconic game series and made it their own. They have returned Gauntlet to it’s roots, giving it the top down treatment it had all those years ago. The graphics are actually pretty good, butt hey retain a sort of cartoony look, which I quite like, it made me feel a little nostalgic for the original incarnation.
The original character classes are still here, you have the Warrior, the Valkyrie, the Elf and the Wizard, all of whom have their own move sets and playing styles. For the most part, I ended playing as the Wizard, who could wield a number of spells which could be changed by using certain button press combinations. Each character has been given his or her own voice, and they often spout random phrases throughout the game. I especially liked the Elf’s Scottish accent.
Now, any one who has ever played any of the games from the Gauntlet series will know the two simple rules: hoard the loot, and don’t shoot the food! I like how Arrowhead Game Studios have built on this, especially with their advertising (One of the main trailers was that of the Elf shooting the delicious turkey, and letting the Wizard die). The gold in the game is easy to spot. Sitting there, glimmering and shining, and is probably the brightest thing on the screen when playing. I feel this tempts players in to going for the loot before even dispatching the oncoming enemies. And I love it. For me, this is what Gauntlet is about. Although the game implies you need to work as a team, really, it’s all about looking after number one. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve abandoned my team mates just so I can collect as much gold as possible.
Upon completing each level, you are taken back to a central hub of sorts, where you can purchase and upgrade relics. These magical items will give you certain abilities when activated, such as increased movement and attack speed, invulnerability or even copies of your character who fight for you.
Apart from the addition of relics, the original core gameplay has not changed much, which die hard fans of the series will appreciate, and it is simple enough for new gamers to pick up and play. Arrowhead Game Studios have taken some ideas from the originals and given them a make over, for example the infamous walls which are removed by use of a key have made a return. These walls often hold back a hoard of monsters, and if you get too close with a key in hand they open up without warning.
I noticed that the keyboard and mouse really didn’t fare well, the controls felt a little clunky and were hard to get use to, but using a controller to play was perfect. It really made the gaming experience a lot more fun. I also love that you can plug in a second controller for some two player local action. I feel that Gauntlet fares better with more players, I played it for a while on my own, but I found it wasn’t as enjoyable as it was with a company of fellow adventurers.
Overall, Gauntlet is a great flashback to the past as well as a completely new, reinvented game that can stand on its own merits. Arrowhead Game Studios have given this aging classic a new lease of life and opening it up to new and old fans alike. It’s great to play with a few friends, but it does get let down by being a little repetitive. That being said, don’t let this put you off. The bosses are challenging and you feel a sense of achievement when defeating them. If you’re a fan of games like Baulder’s Gate, you definitely don’t want to miss out on Gauntlet, and with any luck, Arrowhead Game Studios will let it make the jump to home consoles.