Gauntlet Review


Dylan Berkowitz, Staff Writer

You’re trapped in an endless maze. All you have is your trusted weapon of choice. Ghosts, goblins and skeletons are all chasing you. You’ve just used your last potion and now you’re struggling to stay alive. All hope seems lost, and then you see it: a piece of chicken!

You grab your weapon and with this new found energy, nothing can stop you from tearing through these monsters.

This is Gauntlet.

Gauntlet is a fantasy hack and slash dungeon crawler originally made by Atari Games and released in 1985 for arcades. The game was seen with a lot of praise mostly for simply being a good game. The game was so well received that it currently has nine entries in the series and have been released on 30 different gaming platforms.

The game was heavily inspired by Dungeons and Dragons which is no surprise seeing the countless fantasy elements in the game. Just about everything is there.





Countless gold?
You know it.

While that’s all fine and dandy, the plots for the games are very basic, and that’s already giving them too much credit. Though they change from game to game, the story essentially goes “there is evil, go through a lot of levels and stop it.” That’s about it.

Sometimes you’re being told to do it by some old grandmaster or something, but really, that’s all you need. Who needs a story when you have great gameplay.

Thankfully, Gauntlet is a blast to play. What happens in most games is the player chooses to be one of four characters. There’s Thor the Warrior who has high attack power, Merlin the Wizard who has the strongest magic power, Thyra the Valkyrie who has high defenses and Questor the Elf who uses a bow and is really fast.

While these four have appeared in every game in the series, there have been others that have been added, such as the Minotaur and Dwarf for example, though most of these characters simply act as a re-skin rather than a new addition.

The combat in the games is really strange to say the least. First off, to regain health, eating food always gets the job done. Second, for some reason, combat always involves throwing one’s weapon. Makes sense for magic from the Wizard and arrows from the Elf, but the Warrior still insists on throwing his axe. Why? Maybe it was a technical thing in the arcades machines. It still works for the type of game it is, but still really weird.

There is one case where that is not true, however, and that occurs on Gauntlet released in 2014 for modern platforms and essentially a reboot of the series. No more is every character throwing their weapon, but instead using them as they were supposed to. The Warrior and Valkyrie swing their axe and spear respectively, the Wizard can now use different magic spells and and Elf is still  firing his arrows. Not only that, but there is a fifth member in the mix.

Lilith the Necromancer. She uses her undead minions to attack for her. She can even do this one thing where she summons a giant one and it uses a hammer to kill a bunch of enemies in a certain area and it’s so fun!

But I digress.

While the game is still fun to play alone, it’s best enjoyed when you have friends to go into combat with. With an extra body with you, that helps add another level of strategy, like maybe the Valkyrie and/or Warrior can take all the damage and attack up close while the Wizard and/or Elf attack from afar and the Necromancer can clear them with a big hit.

Along with this new version comes the added richness of character personality which was lacking in previous entries in the series.

Each character now has a persona that is very distinct. For example, Thor is the typical big strong guy who is dumb and Questor is very relaxed and seems like he’s there to have fun. Even the announcer is a riot to listen to. He constantly makes fun of the player, but while doing this, it actually encourages the player to do better.

I can say from experience that it feels so great to beat a level or boss after he says something like “few have ever made it here, much less through.”

Oh yeah, and the music is really good and always seems to fit the overall theme of the game. It truly feels like an old fantasy movie from the 80’s, and if you’re anything like me, that’s a huge plus.

In my opinion, Gauntlet is a great series and should be tried out by anyone who wants to sit down, maybe grab a friend or two and have a good time. I would recommend the most recent since it is the most available being on PC and Playstation 4.

Plus, there’s nothing like killing a bunch of skeletons with that giant undead hammer!