E3 2014: Gauntlet Aims for Old-School Nostalgia at a Bargain Price

Elf needs food badly!

The original arcade Gauntlet was one of the first four-player co-op games I really got into--the game that paved the way for my later love of beat-em-ups and dungeon crawlers. But while the Gauntlet games have seen many revivals over the years, none of the recent ones have really gotten that original mix of exploration, combat, and cooperation right. Arrowhead Game Studios is attempting to rectify that with an upcoming remake simply titled Gauntlet.

The game's updated art style, with its dynamic lighting and detailed environments, reminds me of a less-detailed Diablo III, but you can see that for yourself in the trailer below. The revamped Warrior, Valkyrie, Wizard and Elf look modern, but there's a strong sense of familiarity in their movements. The way the characters have a slight forward lean when walking and their quick, 180-degree turns may not be noticeable to a younger player, but they're immediately noticeable homages to the series' earliest games. And Gauntlet retains small touches from the original as well, like the all-to familiar sound when you collect a key and the way you can see enemy swarms packed shoulder-to-shoulder in adjacent rooms just waiting for the door to open.

Where the game takes a departure from its established roots is in the addition of ability-enhancing relics and new abilities for every character class. Each character can equip two items, and the E3 demo provided access to boots that temporarily increase your character's speed and an orb that causes a freezing area of effect attack. However, the extra power these abilities give you is balanced by the fact that they have cooldown timers. So it requires strategy to decide exactly when you need to fire up the extra boost of speed to get out of an overwhelming wall of enemies, because you won't be able to use it again for up to a minute afterward.

I spent some time in the demo as both a Wizard (my regular choice) and Warrior. The Wizard offers a choice between three different ranged attacks: fire, ice, and lightning. But it takes a moment to switch between abilities and requires that you stop moving, so you can't just swap out skills on the fly while engaging with the enemy hoards. Planning ahead is absolutely necessary -- generally you choose between either weaker attacks that damage large groups or a more powerful attack that hits a single enemy hard. It's a tough class to play solo (though not impossible), but Wizard works best as a support class: dealing massive damage to mobs of foes while staying well out of the way of attacks. Aiming the Wizard's attacks feels slightly unbalanced and inaccurate currently, but the game still has plenty of time to optimize that before the September 3 release.

And the Warrior is no slouch as a combatant. A close-quarters fighter with a light and heavy attacks, the most important skill to get down is getting the timing of attacks down. The heavy attack initiates a small wind-up after pressing the button that leaves you momentarily vulnerable, but it's a powerful strike that can take out multiple foes. The Warrior's crowd control comes from his spinning special attack: a short spinning attack that can quickly mow down huge groups. Since, like the relics, it also has a short cooldown timer, it's an attack you want to save for emergencies. But it made running through the demo solo as a warrior entirely viable viable, even when the number of enemies on the screen seemed overwhelming.

Like the Gauntlet of old, the demo for this update was much more fun sitting on a couch with friends and competing for health, enemy kills, and gold (even though the money I collected went into a shared pot). But the variety of abilities and combat combos made playing through the small segment of gameplay fun, and the enemy assortment ensured that combat required thought, not just mindless button-mashing.

Gauntlet will launch at $19.99 exclusively for PC, which, even this early on, feels like a bargain price for what's already a satisfying nostalgia trip.

See more coverage of E3 2014 →

Written By

Senior Editor, Earthbound fan, and snazzy dresser.

Want the latest news about Gauntlet?

Gauntlet

Gauntlet

Follow

Discussion

18 comments
xsimon_saysx
xsimon_saysx

Starting from release (12pm CST for me) I will be streaming Gauntlet for 24 hours on my channel at http://www.twitch.tv/xsimonsaysx come check me out! I will be trying out all 4 characters, pointing out things I like and sharing any tricks I pick up. I also plan on playing with viewers, see you there!

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

Company reboots a classic game designed for playing co-op with people on the couch...makes it a PC exclusive.

starcrafthenry
starcrafthenry

I enjoyed the original Gauntlet, and loved Dark Legacy on the Gamecube and at the arcade.

I want to be excited for this, but I just can't for a couple reasons.

1) PC only. Yes I have a PC, but some games are just meant to be played local multiplayer. PC is notoriously bad about this feature.

2) DLC. Dark Legacy had a ton of unlockable stuff. This game being developed by the people that make Magicka leads me to believe that we'll be spending our hard earned cash, rather than imaginary in game gold, to buy any and all upgrades/skins.

burnettaj
burnettaj

I loved the old version of this game. Countless hours playing at the arcade. Blue warrior needs food badly! 

TigerClaw
TigerClaw

I hope this new version has the "Someone Shot The Food." voices like in the original.

kog24
kog24

Needs to come over to PS4!! 

Stogin
Stogin

Man how lame that this isn't coming out for consoles.  Just make it a downloadable title you lazy asses.

seanwil545
seanwil545

A game of my childhood, exclusively for PC only...and only $20?

You can count me in.

Build a low cost gaming rig you non-PC clowns!

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Exclusively for PC?  "It looks great,...for me to poop on!"  ---  Triumph the Insult Comic Dog


Seriously, bring this game to console and make some money off of it.

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

I probably dropped $10 or $15 a week for 3 years into this game back in the day. $20 is an easy buy let's hope it feels like the old arcade game that top down view gives me hope it will.

billzihang
billzihang

Warrior has shot potion. "Nooooo!!!!"

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

@seanwil545 then that ONE game is not $20 dollars but more like 400 dollars.  im assuming a sub 100 dollar video card would be efficient, 4gb of ram, with a quad core cpu, 20 in monitor, 1tb hdd and win7 would be about that amount.  this pc would be proficient to run this game and most old games as well... but for one game thats rather a steep price to pay.

seanwil545
seanwil545

@shinjuki 

How about building a cheap PC...you people call yourselves gamers...Pfftttt!!!

k1DBLITZ
k1DBLITZ

@BamaGoatt yup, time to break out the arcade joysticks! Hhmmm... That actually got me thinking.. I wonder if they went the "twin stick" route with this remake in which case a joystick wouldn't work very well.

seanwil545
seanwil545

@leviathanwing @seanwil545 

Not for this "ONE game", but ALL the cross platform titles that look and perform better on PC...barring Watchdogs. A new build PC will cost a little more, yet be far more versatile.

Hook the PC to an HDTV and skip the monitor.

k1DBLITZ
k1DBLITZ

@seanwil545 @leviathanwing That's how I roll! 65 inches of PC gaming goodness. Once you go HDTV, you won't go back to playing on a tiny monitor. 


It's funny because I used to roll with a 27 inch monitor... and that's big by monitor standards, but it pales in comparison to 65 inches. :D