Nostalgia, it is the warm feeling we get when we look back on the old corpse runs of yesteryear. It is the longing we have for raids that consist of more than 20 players. It is the glow that surrounds us as we remember fondly pumping quarters into machines at the arcade in an attempt to see how long we could get those 25 cents to last. Arrowhead Games Studios attempts to capitalize on this sense of nostalgia with their reboot of the quarter guzzling arcade classic Gauntlet and its manic co-op dungeon crawling shenanigans.
The formula is simple. Kill Stuff + Collect Gold + Eat Stuff + Find Exit = Fun. While this formula was tried and true in the 1985 classic it could use a little sprucing up for 2014 and that is just what Arrowhead attempts to do. The classic Warrior, Valkyrie, Wizard and Elf characters are all present and accounted for. The warrior is a hit first, think later melee brute. The Valkyrie is a heavily armored specialist that knows defense wins games. The Wizard is your typical Merlin wannabe that casts spells from range and has a variety of elemental affinities to choose from. The Elf is a proto-ranger that depends on a barrage of arrows and a bomb that he can lay at his enemy’s feet or fire from a far.
Two of the additions for this reboot are the introduction of Masteries and Relics. Masteries are a form of character progression and relics are items that your characters can purchase from the vendor in the game’s lobby. Masteries are character specific to encourage you to play all four to some degree. They are earned by performing actions in game. Break pots, shoot food, get killed by area of effect damage. That’s right; you even earn them by dying which sort of cheapens the whole affair. There is not much sense of accomplishment in dying.
While Masteries are purely beneficial, Relics on the other hand can act as a double edged sword. While they can have tremendous impact on your enemies if you find yourself standing too close to the giant purple gem that attracts your enemies and then explodes, you will end up as collateral damage. Relics are limited in their use by your ability to find potions spread throughout the dungeons.
Even with Masteries and Relics sprinkled into the mix Gauntlet can quickly end up becoming a slog-fest destroying wave after wave of skeletal menace and in the end it is hard to tell one level from the next. Also it turns out games like this already exist. Torchlight, Diablo, Path of Exile, and similar games have picked up the torch that Gauntlet lit and have done a magnificent job of carrying the genre forward. They have made the leap to allow for meaningful character customization and development that feels rewarding and not just a byproduct of playing the game.
The game makes good use of Steam integration and allows for you to easily play with friends or anyone else that is active on Steam. Leader boards and use of social media by the developers foster competition and encourage players to keep diving back into the dungeons to improve their score. It’s a fun game, when all is said and done. Still, even though repetition is not always a bad thing, just look at any card game in existence, sometimes it turns out that nostalgia is just not enough. After all, how many of us still really want to run from the graveyard back to our corpse?
- GAMEPLAY: 6 – Different character types break up the monotony but overall the gameplay is repetitive. Shallow character progression.
- VISUALS: 6 – The game looks decent but it’s not going to win any awards.
- POLISH: 8 – I have not run into any bugs and the UI is nice and clean.
- LONGEVITY: 7 – Repetitive gameplay is enhanced by the addition of relics and the small bonuses characters earn while completing tasks in game.
- VALUE: 8 – At $19.99 on steam or $59.99 for a 4 pack. It is hard to beat this price for a new game.
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