Back in my childhood, I vaguely remember playing Gauntlet. I liked the variety of characters and the beat-em-up gameplay mechanics. However, nowadays, it feels a bit dated in a world with a higher complexity of games out there. From the bland art design of the dungeons to the repetitive nature of the gameplay, Gauntlet: Slayer Edition, even though it lives up to the name, feels dated.
Now, the first thing to address is the gameplay, and I get it. Some get a lot of fun out of grinding, so their character can become stronger. Destiny is a recent example of a game that has players grinding for many hours to collect loot. I understand, and if that type of game works for you, you will love Gauntlet: Slayer Edition. For me though, Gauntlet plays like a repetitive button basher as you fight the same enemies over and over again. There is the inclusion of a few puzzles here and there, but 90% of the time, you will be facing hordes of enemies (especially if you’re alone).
When reviewing games, I like to play Normal mode, so I can grasp what the usual player would go through, and if you’re playing by yourself, good luck. The game does not scale down the amount of enemies on screen in conjunction to the amount of players who are participating, so it is extremely easy to fail against enemies who are hording around you. What makes it worse is that there are stronger enemies who interrupt you from destroying towers, which constantly respawn the standard skeleton soldiers. Add all that to a frustrating lack of checkpoints within a 10-25 minute level, and you’re forced to go online.
Now, once you go online, you have two options: to host a game yourself and continue playing solo or joining another person’s game. When I hosted a game by myself, I only had one instance of people joining me within a 30 minute play session. However, in this one party of 3, I had to kick one person because he/she was trying to skip most of the level and stop me from exploring further for collectibles.
You see, the camera restricts you from going to separate areas because you all have to be present on screen. If one wants to go ahead, you have to join them, and if they’re insistent, you have no other choice but to follow. Once kicking him/her, however, I immediately regretted it. There was a boss ahead, and it was at the end of the 20-25 minute level. With only one other player with me, we tackled it and with the hordes of enemies fighting us as well as the boss, we struggled and lost. Once we lost all of our lives, I was left by myself again at the beginning of the level that I was trying to beat for the fifth time at that point; it was incredibly frustrating.
If you want people sticking in parties, Arrowhead, include checkpoints! Another frustrating factor of the online system is that when you try to join another player’s game, you are put into a random level way ahead of where you’re at. How about a system like Borderlands and LittleBigPlanet, in which you are joining in a specific level rather than at random? The silver lining is that the online is rock solid with no connection hiccups; with a game like this that requires constant feedback from the player, the connection is very important. The actual inclusion of couch co-op is also a welcome addition in the now online focused world of gaming.
This remake was previously released on PC last year and brought back the essence of the original. You progress through the game by exploring dungeons, obtaining keys, and eating cooked chicken to recover health. It retains its classic style while also giving it a new fresh look. The game’s just as difficult as the originals too, especially by yourself. The enemies are relentless as they bundle up in swarms, and what doesn’t help is that they keep spawning from popped up towers. These enemies block your way to the towers, so it’s super difficult to get through them by yourself.
A cool feature of Gauntlet, however, is that every item has a special ability attached to it. You can throw your shield like Captain America, stun nearby enemies, and slam the ground with the Warrior’s Axe. All of the classes as well are different in gameplay style. For example, playing as the Archer feels like a top down shooter, and playing as the Warrior feels like a slower but more powerful brute in typical beat-em-up affair. The combat, overall, is fun to play with satisfying animations and strategy to figure out how to defeat bosses and large swarms of enemies.
The game, even though it has received a graphical update from the original, looks bland. There is nothing eye-pleasing within the levels so far; Dull caves, bland skull designs, and the typical enemy types are in Gauntlet, and it doesn’t impress. All of the playable characters as well have a stereotypical design, but at the same time, their look is a throwback to the original games.
Another issue that the game has is its UI; the game still looks like a PC game. The text is too small to read on a TV screen, and the characters are tiny on the map. The birds’ eye view brings back the classic feel, but having the camera a bit closer to the gameplay would work wonders as it’s difficult to know what is going on from the couch. If it was on PC and you were right in front of the monitor, it would be no problem.
For those who love the original games though, they did include classic lines that you will appreciate. The sound effects are spot on and definitely give you the nostalgic feels. The music, however, is forgettable; I can only faintly remember the main menu theme that is a revisited version of the original.
Overall, Gauntlet: Slayer Edition is not for me, but it might be for you. If you are looking for a local or online co-op game with three friends, in which you’re bashing countless enemies and solving the occasional puzzle, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re playing by yourself or want a detailed RPG-like experience, this is not for you. The lack of checkpoints is a huge irritating factor of Gauntlet, and the repetitive enemy types really deteriorate the game, but the classic throwbacks, and the beat-em-up elements from the originals make Gauntlet stay true to the name.
A PS4 code of Gauntlet: Slayer Edition was provided by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment for the purpose of this review
- Sound effects are spot on.
- Pays homage to the original series.
- The variety of abilities with weapon unlocks.
- The combat itself is strategic and fun to play.
- Solid connection while online.
- No checkpoints!
- Repetitive game design.
- No scaling down of enemies for less players.
- Forgettable soundtrack.
- Camera is too far away.