Gauntlet First Look - Prima Games

Gauntlet First Look

by Prima Games Staff

Gauntlet is a classic action adventure game from the 80s where up to four people rampage through danger-filled dungeons, eliminating enemies while locating keys and food to reach new levels.

After seeing a small resurgence in the 90s with Gauntlet Legends and a pair of spin-offs, the series fizzled. Warner Bros. will change that this summer with the release of a new Gauntlet game developed by Arrowhead Studios. This one features a contemporary appearance, while at the same time carrying the adventurous spirit of the original. Warner Bros. recently invited us to get a first look at the game during this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. 

Fans of the classic 80s game have nothing to worry about. The top-down view remains intact, even though the dungeons are now in 3D. For good measure, there’s a layer of depth to each location, with hidden catacombs hiding some treasure and other goodies worth picking up. 

Similar to the original, Gauntlet encourages multiplayer support. In fact, the more the merrier. Up to four players can take part, choosing between different combatants – the Warrior, the Elf, the Wizard and the Valkyrie. Like the Atari arcade game, each character brings a great style of play to the table that players can adapt to. 

For instance, the Warrior is ideal for close quarters combat, using a combination of light and heavy strikes, along with a spinning attack that can take out enemies. The Valkyrie brings a number of close and distant attacks she can mix together. The Elf strikes best from a distance, with shots aimed and fired with utmost precision, though he’s useless at close range. Finally, the wizard is the most tactful of the bunch, using everything from lightning bolts to fireballs to fend off his adversaries. 

Along with primary attack methods, each character utilizes magic techniques to clear the screen of weaker foes, as well as Death himself, who shows up on occasion to harass the player. If you run out of potions, you can pick up more over the course of the journey. For good measure, food items and gold are also available. Should you lose a life, it’ll cost 500 gold to jump back into the game.

Arrowhead Studios did a great job recreating the team dynamic that made the original Gauntlet so much fun. Players that stick together are rewarded, not only by being prepared for large groups of enemies that get in their way, but also for unlocking doors. Plus to be fair, some of the bigger bosses in the game, like the giant mummy king at the conclusion of the demo, can’t be taken down with one just fighter.

As we stated before, each dungeon comes with plenty of hidden goodies, as well as rooms that can be accessed with secondary items. For example, you’ll want to save an explosive barrel so you can lay it down next to a crack in a nearby wall, then have either the Elf or Wizard detonate it so you can create an alternate doorway to continue onward. Some doors also require switches to activate. 

Gauntlet supports both local and online play for up to four people at a time, with true drop-in/drop-out co-op similar to the arcade game. From what we’ve seen, it’s an ultimate couch potato affair, with players working together to solve each dungeon and eventually clean up enough golf to keep each other alive for another round. 

The only downside to the game is its availability; it’s PC only for now. That said, Gauntlet appears to live up to the arcade game’s legacy. We’ll have full team tactics once the game arrives in a few months. In the meantime, remember – don’t shoot the food.

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