Gauntlet 2014

Gauntlet 2014 is a great follow-up to the original Gauntlet.. though a little on the short side.  Like the original, it’s got fast-paced action with plenty of enemies, and there’s also the addition of skill progression and the option to play with friends too.  I love the art style, too..

Gauntlet Dungeon screen

The game starts off with the four characters of the classic game preparing to enter the Gauntlet.  There’s a very quick tutorial for each character, where you try out each of their special skills to kill off a bunch of mummies.. and then it’s on to the trial itself.

I preferred the Warrior, Thor, who felt a strong character with standard light and heavy attacks along with a cyclone spin and the ability to dash through enemies and send them flying!  My second choice would have been Thyra.. along with her standard attack she can throw spear projectiles or her shield to strike multiple enemies.  Her special ability allows her to behave like a tank with her shield block: useful but not quite as fun as bowling enemies over!

Thor Warrior

As I expected, I didn’t really click with the Wizard or Elf characters, and though I’ll definitely give them a run later, I’ve only tried them out during the tutorial.  The Wizard, Merlin, plays like the mages of Magicka, using ice, fire and electricity with multiple presses of the buttons creating different types of attack, including a fire teleport.  The Elf, Questor, has light and heavy ranged attacks as well as a dodge roll.  His special ability allows him to lay mines on the floor, which are great for AOE damage to the enemies, but for me a liability as I like to move about a lot, and I’d rather not roll right into them!

The trial begins in the Tombs of the Risen, with plenty of jars to smash, coins and items to collect.. including that oh-so-shootable food.. and of course, enemies to fight!  There was also the wonderful familiarity of entire walls made up of locks 🙂

Gauntlet Wall of Locks

Then there were the enemies blindly charging towards me, and the spawners which took several strikes to destroy.  I loved the announcer’s mocking voice when I “bravely” shot the food I didn’t need.. and I was amused to see the unlockable ability, “Eating off the Floor”, which replenishes a percentage of a food’s Heal Value when food is destroyed, rather than eaten!

Oops food

We had a run through as a group in the co-operative multiplayer too.  Of course! 🙂

I noticed that we all shared a screen, but it didn’t cause us any problems as we ran around fighting or looking for secret rooms.  I suppose it does make players stick together, rather than split up looking for loot, or leaving somebody behind.  Collected loot fills a meter to earn Skull Coins, used for resurrection upon death.  In multiplayer, these Skull Coins are a shared resource, and are spent as each player dies and is resurrected, rather than allowing a certain number per player.  Not a problem for us, but I could imagine people being irritated by ‘weaker’ players using up the coins in public games.  I prefer my friends to be alive and taking part in the game, so I liked this.

Boss battles are better when everybody can take part 🙂

Gauntlet boss battle

As Death’s touch kills the player outright, the levels featuring him were more of a rush as keeping away was more important than trying to collect all the loot.  The model’s pointing finger reminded me of the original’s appearance.. which we had taken particular note of as kids!  We imitated the character outside of the game too, with the extended arm and pointing finger.. I wonder what our little guy is going to take away from his gaming experiences as he grows up! 😀

Gauntlet Death Chasing

The original Gauntlet had an epic 100 levels, so I am disappointed that there are only twelve levels to the game.  Not only that, but three of the twelve are boss battles.  The game has a lot of replay value, with harder difficulties, skills to unlock, and gear to purchase, but with such a short game it is going to feel increasingly repetitive.

Another gripe was that the “secret” rooms were all highlighted by the presence of explosive barrels.  There’s no excitement in discovering something if it’s being pointed out to you!  Better level design would have meant dead ends, more walls of locks and piles of treasure, more secret areas, barrels appearing at locations where they weren’t only needed to get into a secret room, but for the fun of setting them off too!

I’m also disappointed that the DLC only offers one new character, Lilith the Necromancer.  Lilith might be interesting, with summoned skeleton minions and so on, but I’m not interested enough in the playstyle to buy it.  I’d rather just carry on unlocking gear for Thor, and maybe Thyra, as a backup character for playing with friends.  Now, if they’d added another twelve levels..

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