Ahhh Gauntlet, This takes me way back to coastal town holiday destinations some 30 years ago as I pumped 10p after 10p into this amazingly large arcade cabinet with not one, not two, not even three, but four controls.
Me and my friends would argue over who would be the archer – because everyone knows the archer is the coolest – as we began our adventure to beat Gauntlet. This quest normally never got past level six or seven as we would begin to hear the now legendary, but then frustrating, line “Wizard needs food badly”
Fast forward three decades and I have the Slayer Edition neatly installed on my home console. This is gonna be…….well kinda hard actually. Not just hard but brutally tough. Whilst fun for the initial few levels, it now dawns on me as a 36 year old gamer something that never occurred to six to eight year old me. The reason there was four controllers was that the game was built with the hook of co-op in mind. Whilst playing on your own is fun you are soon easily overwhelmed by the swarms of enemies in each level.
Gauntlet: Slayer Edition comes into its own when you have enough people to take control of all four characters whether this is via local couch co-op or online. Playing on your own simply isn’t recommended. If you suffer from the problem of couch co-op not being a possibility and not enough friends with the title to play online then the game has a “Quick Join” mode which allows you to join in with a campaign that someone has already started. Whilst you may have a few more arguments over who is going to wear the golden crown, it certainly makes things a little easier in the long run.
Wherever you join another players game or start your own, you’ll be facing the same three types of level challenges, combat and light puzzle solving, small “horde like” arenas that push your combat abilities to the limit and procedurally generated Death Runs, where the Grim Reaper follows you around and dishes out death with a single touch. With the right group , all of these can be great fun. With the wrong group painfully hard and unbelievably frustrating.
Other modes available are “Endless Mode” which unsurprisingly does exactly what it says on the tin and has you wage war on the forces of evil in arenas with an ever increasing difficulty as you progress until all of you are knocking on heavens door. The Coliseum delivers daily challenges that bring with them special cosmetic rewards as well as much needed, extra gold.
If there is one problem with all of these modes, is that they are all an offshoot of one another. With only basic puzzling elements breaking up the button mashing of the hack and slashing, things can become a bit repetitive. You’ll be fighting different enemies and solving different puzzles but they are slight variations of previous enemies and puzzles .
Visually, Gauntlet looks like a generic fantasy title mainly because the default design is washed out colours with a hint of grey. The action is zoomed way way out which does give you a good view of the overall dungeon but comes at the cost of detail which hinders how visually pleasing the game is.
Overall though, Gauntlet is a streamlined hack n slash dungeon crawler which features easy to learn combat and mechanics, and seems well suited to those late night/post-pub gaming sessions. As mentioned previously, Gauntlets visuals aren’t going to compete with many titles, but that will be the last thing you think about as you and a few mates run around like headless chickens trying to hit that ghost whilst trying to avoid the grim reapers deathly touch.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8.5/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Gauntlet: Slayer Edition by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.