Gauntlet (TM)

The reboot of Gauntlet is here! The top-down hack n’ slash action RPG has arrived to Steam thanks to the guys at ArrowHead Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game includes some pretty interesting features yet displays some issues. Play the classic dungeon crawler, compete against other players for the most kills and gold eraned in a run while encountering “fiendish traps”, monstrous hordes and epic bosses.

In the universe of Gauntlet, you can play as 4 different characters; The Elf, with a charming personality flooded with stereotypical humor, the green archer known as Questor. The Warrior, with a passion for beating up stuff, his is Thor. Then we have a blue decorated and shielded Valkyrie, Thyra. Last but not least, the strong Wizard, Merlin. The goal of the game is to defeat enemies inside dungeons, break pots of gold and loot them, eat weirdly prepared cooked food on plates to regain your health and acquire special potions for when the situation is dire. Raid these dungeons with traps and the common closed arena until you defeat all foes to progress.

Let’s break down the characters!

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Thor, the Warrior: He works as you would expect, two melee attacks (normal hit and cleaving blow), and a special technique that spins your weapon to slash enemies. Your escape mechanism is a rush that works in a straight line pointed by your cursor/analog stick.

Thyra, the Valkyrie: A more versatile melee alternative. You have a regular sword slash, another rush escape BUT! You can throw your shield and ricochet on enemies, as well as use it to defend yourself from strikes and then bash a wide cone of enemies away from you.

Questor, the Elf: This character is for players used to the range mode of course. You have consecutive arrow shooting, a special sniped single arrow for increased damage, a great long tactical roll to escape and a timed bomb with considerable AoE damage. Great for beginners!

Merlin, the Wizard: Merlin is basically the essence of Magicka, only that you have around 8 different elements and can combine up to 2 to cast a specific spell. These can nuke enemies hard, and some can protect you from danger as well as escape. You can shoot exploding fireballs, shooting a continuous freezing laser, boost yourself around the map, form a shield, etc… Better for more experienced players, but who am I kidding! You can play as whatever you think suits your play style.

The objective is to unlock new dungeons by yourself or with friends, by what seems to be regular maps that can be progressively generated but not always? You fight creatures, zombies, fire goblins, necromancers and more that will stop your progress and avoid you to reach the exit. Some maps will have a spectre chasing you through the map, so maybe you should think twice when trying to loot EVERY gold coin in an area, these spectre will instantly kill you. When your character’s health is depleted, you can join back in the game with what seems to be a classic quarter. The quarter count is showed at the top right part of the screen, as you defeat enemies and maintain a chain of combos and killing streaks a red bar will begin to fill, when it is filled completely you earn another quarter coin. Basically, like almost any other game, the better you play the better chances of survival. Dungeon have simply puzzles, like a locked door that can be opened with a gold key that is placed nearby, or pick up an explosive barrel and leave it near a cracked wall, detonate it and discover a hidden room with goodies or a new path of progression. Most of the time you will find rooms with hordes of enemies and a creature generator tower, you must destroy it before your team gets overwhelmed and focus damage on the necromancers that heal them as well, watch out for casting projectile enemies!

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When successfully finishing a dungeon, you’re rewarded with the amount of gold you or your team gathered and points to unlock achievements. These achievements are basically tasks that you accomplished during your dungeon crawling such as amount of enemies, how many times you got owned or how much food you got, and also achievements that help you increase the chances of X, which means you can later obtain more gold or replenish more health etc… Afterwards, you will get a brief progression screen showing how far you’re in each after a mission, each character has different and also similar achievements, as you obtain more you will increase the mastery of that character, showing off to other players how much of a badass you’re with that specific character. The gold you got can be spent on the gathering place area with the vendor.

WHADYA BUYIN´?

Well, you can buy a lot of stuff actually. On the first tab you can purchase RELICS, these are special abilities that can be activated during missions and they cost blue Potions to cast, the Potions can be found in dungeons but are very rare so use them in tight situations. These special RELIC abilities are great for crown control or simply as stats buffs for a limited time. On the next tab, you have the currently chosen character’s LOADOUT, here you can spend your gold on cosmetic equipment that actually look pretty good, you can even preview them before buying them and the more dungeons you unlock the more higher tier armor you can buy, but I repeat, it basically cosmetic, which brings a lot of equality to this game in the sense of gameplay. Not only this, you can also upgrade your characters stats with skill points, use these to improve a characters movement speed, attack speed/damage and more.

What makes this game FUN?

The Fun Factor in Gauntlet is clearly expressed during the multiplayer games, why you may ask? Well, Single Player can surely demonstrate to be a boring game mode, you can get overwhelmed by hordes of enemies and have no one to support you or aid you when you get defeated. On the other hand, as you co-op with friends or random players, you can easily rampage through a dungeon and take the food even if you don’t need it or get injured by friendly fire… Anyway, the point of it is to simply beat all the enemies up, earn gold, buy upgrades and cosmetics, rinse and repeat I guess. It can be quite a shame that after some playtime you discover that the mechanics become very repetitive.

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Gauntlet strangely has some visual issues. The. Game. Is. Brown! The camera is so far away that you can’t even appreciate the detailed 3D character models, you will only see the playable character’s respective color auras and maybe some fancy particles when using their skills, but other than that, you’re stuck with a very limited color palette that goes from browns to intense yellows for gold. But going back on the point of the character models, they actually look pretty good, of course their costumes range their color choosing but lightning and shading are very decent, also you can tweak their looks with the cosmetic items from the vendor.

The soundtrack is very classic for an RPG video game set inside dungeons, a very atmospheric and adventurous tone is given. The special FX for attacks and abilities are very satisfying when being used. Last but not least, the voice acting works pretty well on every character, a bit stereotypical on each but they do have pretty interesting dialogue lines, some are when interacting in new dungeons, others are when facing specific problems and some are bind to special keybinds that basically allow your character to express his thoughts. The best thing is when you accidentaly shoot food and you receive a line expressing its concern about what will you do now?

Gauntlet has been developed for the modern gaming industry, bringing back all the best mechanics and adapting them for a more hardcore audience. While gameplay might prove to be fun, it can sure demonstrate visual issues and sometimes even a feel of repetitiveness. Nonetheless, Gauntlet has a very detailed system of stats, upgrades and a variety of cosmetics which make every RPG worth a catch.

3

In Short

  • + Fun gameplay but mostly on multiplayer
    + Well-made system to administrate progression on each character
    + Well design characters with appropriate visuals, voices and FX

  • - The game feels repetitive
    - Limited color palette that could have been greatly exploited

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