Gauntlet: Slayer Edition Review

Gauntlet may have been the first arcade game that I played which allowed four player co-op. I remember being amazed at seeing the machine with its four sets of sticks and buttons, lodged on an extended bench. The game play too was something new. Dungeon crawlers were not exactly common place in a time where side scrolling games reigned supreme. The game play was fast, frantic and although it some what repetitive the action and loot hoarding was extremely addictive. One could easily attribute the Diablo series conception to Gauntlet and now, when Diablo is a massive success with its third instalment, its predecessor of inspiration returns in Gauntlet: Slayer Edition. So has the old dog learnt some new tricks, or is it simply out dated and surpassed too greatly by Blizzards sublime title?

Arrowhead Games are at the helm for the reboot which seems like a marriage made in heaven. The indie development team seems to be an expert in delivering fast paced action, awesome multiplayer and unique comical elements, when you look at Magika and the brilliant Helldivers of their past. If you have played either of these, the original Gauntlet or Blizzard’s Diablo series you will know what to expect. More enemies than ISIS, more gold than El Darado, an elf, mage, warrior and an army of undead battling to death within tight dungeon confines. Unlike the serious Diablo releases however, Gauntlet likes to poke some fun.

Playing on the PS4 I firstly entered the campaign as Questor the Elf, whom you may recall as a character from the 1986 original Gauntlet. In fact all four characters in Merlin the mage, Thor the warrior and Thyra the Valkyrie are back and playable along with a new class in the Necromancer, Lilith. Again all characters offer a differing style with range, speed, strength and wit being their difference. It was strange to find that the Elf’s voice characterisation sounded more leprechaun than any elf I’ve heard in game or movie before and at first it was quite disappointing. However the further I got through the game the more the voice grew on me and considering the cheeky dialogue here, it seemed quite natural. The story is wafer thin with you sent by the Mage, Morak to collect magical shards across three differing worlds. That is as deep as the story really goes, you killing millions of enemies, collecting loot, finding the shards and fighting the end boss. It is all very traditional and very basic in concept.

There are two other mode offerings with Endless mode living up to its title in giving you endless dungeons to battle through and find fame on world leader boards. There is also another mode titled Colosseum that has you trying to complete various challenges that change daily. If you can complete the Colosseum then you gain a special reward but be forewarned, this mode can get extremely tough. In fact the action becomes frantic in all game modes and you can find yourself cornered which leads to an inevitable death. You can continue using a skull coin, run out of coins though and it’s back to the beginning of the level. The game can be quite difficult, especially playing on a harder setting.

The game play will feel familiar to anyone who has played a twin stick, top down style game. Unfortunately most of the game play is attacking and avoiding enemies. It is not that this is a bad thing it just gets repetitive, yes there are puzzle elements but they are quite basic and far too easy and straight forward to really grow the game play. It is a shame, if there was a little more focus on some puzzle elements and some more unique levels this game would have had so much more to offer. There are a few levels where Death is involved, as in the Grim Reaper, and if he makes contact the result is instant death. These levels broke up the game well, but were too few and far between.

Gauntlet: Slayer Edition is a reboot of the age old classic that sticks to its roots pedantically. Arrowhead Games has a knack for developing top multi player small map titles with the excellent Magika and even better Helldivers already a top of there CV. They seemed a perfect developer to reboot Gauntlet and have done quite a reasonable job with Gauntlet: Slayer Edition. Although the game has its issues it remains quite addictive and as with the original, is a much better experience played with friends. So does it match Diablo 3, the question should rather be does it have to? The answer to both is no, although not as grand as Diablo 3, Gauntlet: Slayer Edition stands on its own feet as quite a good game at a reasonable price. Dungeon Crawlers will enjoy it, but if you enter expecting something that matches Blizzard’s effort you are setting yourself up for disenchantment.

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