Gauntlet review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

You can?t go home again. Once and again we hear this idiom, and internalize it. Old territory is bad, you always need to expand, things need to get bigger and better. Gauntlet fell for this trap for the better part of three decades, but in Arrowhead Game Studios? new chapter it all goes back to the start.


As a result, there?s nothing especially new in Gauntlet. Characters are still in the obvious ranged/melee/magic/mixed archetypes. Dungeons resemble Diablo-style semi-procedural maps. Characters can use skills and utilize two of a small handful of spells. There?s no skill trees, there?s no save points, there?s no reassurance as the announcer cackles about your class being near-death and needing food badly.

 And that?s alright. Arrowhead has made Gauntlet a sort of loving remake that takes all the solid foundation the first game laid and builds upon it with the best parts of games it inspired. Instead of being a slow-paced grind, Gauntlet specifically rewards players who play strategically quickly. Combos add up points, which then convert into Skull Coins–a currency that is exchanged for extra lives when you die.


You will die. It?s a certainty in the dungeons of Gauntlet as legions upon legions of enemies swarm upon you from every direction. When they don?t, it might just mean that Death Itself is going to take chase through the labyrinth hallways in levels that hearken back to auto-scroll 2D platformer worlds. Thankfully, death is temporary so long as at least one Skull Coin is in the inventory. If one isn?t, well, back to the beginning of the dungeon.

 Lacking a coherent plot, or really any sort of plot, Gauntlet leans heavily on its gameplay mechanics to drive players forward. It?s a risky move in 2014, but pays off in spades when hours seem to melt away as a fighting party makes its way through the metaphorical meat grinder of ghouls and fiends.


Through all the old-school trappings, it?s obvious where Gauntlet takes a note from its progeny. The game strongly resembles Diablo III, a game of which owes a large debt to Gauntlet and Rogue. Controls feel similar to Arrowhead?s own Magicka, with the Wizard?s casting controls an almost direct rip. As a gestalt, it makes a solid total package.

 What I?m trying to say is that with Gauntlet, Arrowhead proved you could go home again. You could revisit old territory. You could bring the new knowledge you’ve gained since you left. The important part is to not reject your legacy whole-cloth, but instead use it as a grounding for what’s to come. It’s an important lesson, and it’s best when you can share it with friends.

Grade: B+