Gauntlet Slayer Edition - Review

This week has seen the release of Arrowhead's latest Playstation 4 title. Gauntlet Slayer Edition, a top down hack and slash dungeon crawler with simple values. I by no way mean anything negative by the word "simple" so let me emphasise. Character models and animations are not over the top and are very effective, each with unique characteristics and control layout to suit the different classes. Level design is nothing too ambitious but very much suits the overall feel of the game. Character progression is nothing more than earning money to purchase upgrades and cosmetic items. No levelling or exp required, therefore no false notions of a RPG to confuse the overall desired genre. The story itself is not overly riveting, go forth and acquire 3 Shards which no human has ever done, fight the odd boss and go again. So the gameplay, the environment, the characters and controls are all simply perfect for a top down hack and slash title.

After originally being released in 2014 for Steam, it made the jump to our Playstation 4 console's just under a year later for the price of $29.95 ($19.95 US). With a price tag of between $20 and $40 there are certain expectations I feel that need to be met and not too many smaller problems we have to swallow. In all honesty Gauntlet has delivered on these expectations and more. With all of us here at Aussie Gamers Express, one of the most desirable aspects of a game whether it be old, new or indifferent is definitely the ability to play cooperatively (co-op). Gauntlet boasts online and local co-op gameplay and even a mixture of both and given the way the camera works in-game it works almost flawlessly. Many times during co-op top down games that share a single camera for all players I have found myself cheated out of an enjoyable experience due to "camera locking" me behind something or getting stuck in an impossible situation because of lack of vision. I am very happy to report I had maybe two instances of this during my first full play through, so in that case I may shoulder that responsibility and put it down to player error rather than a poor camera performance, which only increases the co-op value.

The story is quite paper thin but who needs a good driving purpose to be slashing the shit out of hundreds of foes who dwell in dark dungeons and caves all on the pathway to Hell? That's right! No one. For all those that do enjoy this genre of media, I do believe there will be a few laughs presented to you by character narration and the odd Tolkien and Diablo reference.

One thing I have neglected to touch on is that Gauntlet is in fact in a series spanning 30 years. When we take a second to look back on Gauntlet's predecessors and specifically the Atari titles, we don't see too much of a difference from then to now. Simple and wonderful dungeon crawling experiences. 

Given the main campaign has a life span of about 3.5 hours on normal with two players working together and the addition of an Endless Mode and a daily challenge wave horde mode, replay ability becomes a question. With a grind bolstered trophy list and very few variety of enemy types, Gauntlet could become overbearingly monotonous and dry. One thing I will say that I believe has been included in the game to combat this very feeling is the individualized controls for each character. There is not a generic controller layout for example the Warrior has the old light attack heavy attack but in contrast the Wizard has a spell book and requires proper combinations to be input for the desired attack. The Elf requires both sticks at times in order to aim and the Valkyrie has a mixture of close and ranged combat. With each character collecting their own allotments of gold and personal upgrades, the longevity of this game is extended but still teetering on the edge of boring repetition over time. For the price of $7.55 you can add Lilith the Necromancer to your legion, maybe extending your game play a little further. Although I have questioned the replay ability of this game I do believe it will take at least 20 hours to experience it all and for the price I don't believe this is too bad. 

Gauntlet has definitely been a very desirable experience with an uncanny ability to actually remind me how old I am. It has taken some of the best parts from my memory bank and infused it with today's fluent technological capabilities and has really won me over. This was once another co-op experience I have shared with my brother in crime LewkOne and will remain one of the most enjoyable, mostly for all the simplistic values that were upheld. Gauntlet has earned a very solid 7.5/10 for me.

This is definitely a game I will keep coming back to over time and experience all the characters in full. To hear more of our collective thoughts on this and many other titles head across to our Facebook page and follow the links to our podcast. Also while you are there, feel free to leave a like so you can keep in touch with us, join us for a game or even challenge us to a game. 

Cheers Red
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