Game Reviews: Gauntlet (2014)


What’s old is new once more!  The new Gauntlet game is truly a blast of nostalgia, while being a new title all on its own.  For being only $20, it provides quite a bit of entertainment value.  But, is it a faithful Gauntlet game?  And is it that good of a  game in general?

With the inclusion of MMO style tactical play, RPG character advancement, and spell crafting; the game is constantly flesh from a mechanical standpoint.  While I love Legends/Dark Legacy, they feel considerably more clunky when compared to the newest installment. In fact, the maneuverability is pretty easy to learn and not that much harder to master.  Even more complicated classes like Elf and Wizard don’t require more than a couple game sessions to fully understand.  Considering all the new mechanical aspects brought to this game, that’s certainly a plus in my book.  Sure, the graphics aren’t up to par, but I figure the mechanical aspects of the game make up for it.

Contrary to what I expected, every class feels pretty unique.  Valkyrie is based on defensive tactics (and Captain America), Warrior is a brutal hand-to-hand tactician, Elf is a Range turf controller, and Wizard can mix-and-match all sorts of unique spell combos!  And yet, all of it still feels very classic Gauntlet!  Another interesting bit is recharges on Artifact items.  These work in a similar vein as the artifacts in 3D Gauntlet, but they use magical potions to activate for a limited time.  Not exactly a bad system and leveling up your items is just as intense as leveling your character.  And consider the boosts you can unlock when you play on harder difficulty levels, things get all the more interesting.

Now, let’s talk baddies!  Gauntlet has always had its fair share of nasties.  Demons, orcs, undead, giant spiders, and more have always had their part in the series.  So, as you’d expect, this game brings ‘em back for a relentless romp.  Like in the new games, there are different classes of monsters; standard grunts, improved grunts, archers, kamikaze attackers, and casters.  This game plays a bit with each of these, while also bringing back the sub-bosses found in the 3D games.  Now, we have super-enemies like the Necromancer from part 1.  These creatures are bosses in their own right, especially when coupled with an environmental hazard or two.  And speaking of hazards, nothing would be complete without DEATH!  Death is scarier than ever, for now it just lurks in the depths and strikes from its reality warping shadows.  On top of that, you can’t defeat death… ever.  This makes the Death run mode all the more nerve wracking, because it’s all about avoid the cloaked foe.  With all that said, the game is no where near the perfect Gauntlet we all wanted.

So, how does this title fall a little flat?  For starters this game is just way to quick to beat.  Sure, you could try to maximize your character, but there is no fun in that.  If there was more content available, then leveling up your character would be a much more enjoyable experience.  After you beat the twelve total levels, there is very little replay value.  You could try to take on another class (even though you have few options), but that will get tiring after a while too. The only way to get your replay value’s worth was playing with a different set of friends.

Also, the mazes have a rather redundant formula to them.  Dungeon Crawl, escape death, challenge room.  To me, the latter two parts of the dungeon felt like padding.  Death became more of a frustration than a challenge after encountering it for the 12th time or so.  And while it tries to up its homage to the original, it fails to really innovate the worlds of Gauntlet.

One of the reasons why I loved Legends/Dark Legacy is it shook up the Gauntlet formula, while keeping familiar elements in tact.  That’s not to say this game didn’t try that, but I think it fell a bit flat in an attempt to do so.  Each world has an overall sameness to it.  Crypt, cave, and volcano.  These “worlds” feel a lot like aspects of Town, Desert, Mountain, and Castle from Legends/Dark Legacy.

As much as it pains me to not give a Gauntlet game a fantastic rating, 2014’s Gauntlet gets a decent 6.5 power attacks out of 10!

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