With the increasing number of new IPs releasing, the originality of games is slowly diminishing. Open world sandbox games are becoming mundane, first person shooters are just like the previous and sequels end up being either innovative or a disappointment. In order to avoid the risk of no creativity or creating a clone game, some publishers are now shifting their attention to remakes and reboots.
Starting with the HD remasters on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and culminating in a trend as of lately, a considerable amount of games is getting released once more, this time with updated graphics or some tweaks and changes in gameplay. Arcade games or classics are also getting their fair share of re-release, the last of which, Gauntlet, being a remaster of the original Atari Gauntlet Arcade which came out in 1985. Arrowhead Studios, the ones behind the reboot, have revolutionised the game while at the same time keeping intact the foundations of what was a fairly popular game back then.
The game is a dungeon crawler, from an over the head point of view which makes battles a Funfest of chaos and destruction and blood. Or no blood, since the game also features a “Gore” option which lets users enable or disable, you guessed it, the gore in the game. Basically, Gauntlet is an up-to-four player co-op game in which players can assume the role of four different classes, being the Warrior, the Wizard, the Elf and the Valkyrie. These characters have different attacks, and thus one will choose the one which feels most comfortable slaying enemies with. Gauntlet smartly starts with a little tutorial, showing off all four characters and their abilities one by one, while descending towards the start of the game.
The Warrior is the melee character, wielding an axe and his basic attack and his special attack, performed by clicking the left mouse button and pressing space-bar respectively, require being close to the enemy. The strong attack lunges towards them with a jump and thus there can be a little gap between player and foe. Warriors also have a charge attack by pressing shift, which rampages through a short distance, damaging enemies in the way. Warriors may be seen as good starter characters due to their close range and high damage, as well as the relative similarity of button presses may permit a little button mashing. The next class is the Valkyrie, who has a shield to defend from attacks. Like the Warrior, the Valkyrie’s attack range is melee and thus the shield will prove important in deflecting enemy offense while inflicting your own. Her special attack is a shield throw, which circulates a little around her, decapitating enemies. She is more suitable for more experienced players due to the different skills of the character. Next we find the Elf, my personal favourite, who attacks through his bow and arrow. As a special attack he has a bomb which could be considered a bit of a skill shot, but due to its large area it could be placed badly and still achieve the intended. Last but surely not least is the Wizard. The Wizard is a spellcaster and is operated through button combinations, which makes him the most tedious character to use, but once you learn his combos and spells you become the most effective murder machine in the party due to his large arsenal of area of effect spells.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game is that all the dungeons are procedurally generated, which means that no two playthroughs of the game will yield the same dungeons. Among the dungeons one can find different items such as food to restore health or gold to purchase upgrades in the shop. There are also perks, which are small rewards on accomplishments made throughout the level for example being the player who deals the most damage to a boss. What distinguishes the game from other multiplayer co-op offerings is that even though the game pits you in a team, there is still the element of solo progression. In simpler terms, the gold that you pick up will be only yours, it will not be shared together at the end of the level, and so do the kills. At the end of each level everyone wants to be the one with the most kills, or the one who picked up the most gold, and it is this take on personal success which builds the delicate inversion of player versus team within the game. The food also works in the same way, so if a player takes the food, only his health will regenerate. This could cause some disagreements between players, since ultimately greed may result in players with full health eating food so that others with low life die, and thus loot what they dropped. There is no revive option either in Gauntlet, so the collaboration created in reviving teammates is also lost.
Gauntlet presents players with the ultimate tease; playing alone in a team of four players. Sure, going solo and trying to beat out your teammates will have you getting your hands on the best loot and the most gold, but in a game which has you against waves and waves of enemies, co-operation does not sound so bad does it? One could also just play alone and save himself the hassle of deciding whether to be a good sport or a greedy bastard. Ultimately, like any other game, making it to the end is its real task and accompanied or alone, it will still feel as satisfying as ever.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.