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Gauntlet (Video Game Review)

Gauntlet is a new action title that will revive the classic hack and slash franchise previously produced by Midway. The game series first arrived to home consoles on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 1980s, and the cooperative title is just as fun to play with friends in the new reboot as the classic series has ever been. In Gauntlet, players choose from one of four fantasy themed classes and head off to dungeons to fight hordes of enemies and carefully search levels for gold and hidden secrets. The new release pays homage to the classic series with a voiceover announcer that is both memorable and funny, and the game is still heavily based in button mashing action which both instills a sense of nostalgia for older players but also works against the game's chance at success with some mindless repetition.

Gauntlet, like its predecessors, features a bare bones narrative. A warrior, valkyrie, wizard and elf have been summoned along with a powerful artifact known as the Gauntlet by a powerful master of the arcane. The omnipotent character speaks to players throughout the game and guides them through missions while making funny quips about destroying food and grabbing gold. The characters themselves talk in the new release to add even more humor to the game. The reason players are fighting through the game is never made abundantly clear, but the dialogue written for the game does a good job of setting a fun tone despite the game's seemingly unfair difficulty at times.

The Gauntlet series has always been all about button mashing through hordes of enemies to grab gold or keys to unlock doors and get more gold. Nothing has changed as far as the primary goals of players in the game, but new controls makes things more interesting for certain characters. Playing as the warrior or valkyrie tends to lead to more repetitious enemy encounters in which players charge in head first to button mash down a wave of enemies. The valkyrie is a bit more strategic with some ranged attacks and an ability to block incoming attacks with a shield, but the characters still play similarly. The elf uses a bow to pick off enemies from a distant though, and using the character makes the game feel much more like a twin-stick shooter than a button masher. The wizard also changes the way players experience the game and requires players to mash two face buttons to load a spell before unleashing it on enemies. There are many different spells that can be summoned by the wizard, and there is definitely a steep learning curve when it comes to mastering using the character. The variety in character options definitely sets the new game apart from others in the rest of the series.

Another big new change for the series are relics and equipment that adds minor RPG elements to the title. Players can acquire these special items by exploring dungeons, and they can be equipped to a character for a variety of different statistic boosts and effects. Additionally, players can complete special in-game challenges known as masteries to give their characters even more abilities in combat. Many of the boosts are the same for every character class and add bonuses such as increased movement speed, but each class also has at least three different masteries to unlock as well.

features games with up to four player action. Players can join online to experience Gauntlet the way it is meant to be played, but it doesn't come without some problems. Players looking to grab gold and skip fighting enemies in the game seem to be all too common in games, and this can make tackling some of the tougher areas of the game particularly annoying. Luckily, the game does a good job of rewarding players that kill enemies with some gold as well, so everyone should end a stage with a decent amount of loot despite their preferred style of play.

Gauntlet is the best looking game the series has seen and plenty of dark dungeons of different varieties litter the main campaign. Character design isn't the strongest part of Gauntlet's presentation, but characters are still easily distinguishable, which is all players really need in an over the top action title. There are some good sound effects and themes in the game too, though the title seem to suffer from framerate drops and sound issues from time to time. The game's controls work well and help make playing as different characters in the game feel completely different from another. Overall, Gauntlet has a solid presentation that doesn't have any major issues.

Gauntlet is a good homage to a classic series. Longtime fans of the series will be thrilled with the new release. The game features exciting cooperative action and plenty of great new features including relics and masteries that help propel the series forward. While the title isn't perfect and suffers from a few presentation issues and some minor repetitive qualities, the overall quality of the game is high and Gauntlet is as addictive as ever in the new release. Look for Gauntlet out now on Steam with Steam OS support built-in.

Gauntlet is now available exclusively for Steam on PC and can be purchased for $19.99. Gauntlet is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Gauntlet website.

Game Features:
  • Online Multiplayer 1-4
  • Loot, Level and Repeat
  • Steam OS Support
  • Steam Trading Card Support
  • Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Available exclusively for PC (reviewed)
Release Date: September 23, 2014

Score: 9 out of 10
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