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Gauntlet: Slayer Edition review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 30 years to the day since we were introduced to one of the first simultaneous multiplayer arcade games, the original Gauntlet. This is a game very near and dear to me because my family owned a comic book store in Brooklyn, NY that also had arcade games. Gauntlet was a game that my mom and I used to play every time I visited. From the retro music, to classic quotes, like “Elf needs food”, there was a lot to love despite its punishing difficulty.

Over the years, there have been a ton of sequels and remakes of sort that I never bothered to play, primarily from either a friend trashing them or reading a negative review. With the latest entry, I felt the need to give it a try and see if the Slayer Edition can do the series justice. I had a pretty decent time playing this revision to the franchise. The four player online co-op works as well as it should, as long as you are playing with cooperative players.

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I spent most of my time playing solo, which is usually my preference nowadays, and if the game could keep my interest without other players, then it’s a win in my book. I am happy to report that I was able to play a significant amount of the game alone. However; the real enjoyment for this type of game was with a full 4 player team. One thing that I appreciated was they used the original classes from the arcade with some visual upgrades.

I know the later games expanded on the classes and that would have been a turn off for me right away. Sometimes less is better. In the original, I preferred playing as the Elf. This time around, after trying each class, I grew particularly fond of the Valkyrie. Her abilities from the start were enjoyable and I’ve yet to upgrade her weapons because I prefer the attacks you start with, where she throws the shield like Captain America, which makes its way through the horde of monsters.

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Each character has a familiar feel to them with the exception of the Wizard. He is much more fleshed out and his spells are conjured up with up to nine different attacks, all with a couple of button combos. The Elf and Wizard are both great for ranged combat, whereas the Valkyrie and Warrior are best suited for close range combat.

It’s nice to reminisce about some of the classic components of the game. Change, however, can also be a good thing. In Gauntlet’s case, the story mode is a welcome addition, especially for an arcade style dungeon crawler. Having a story to drive you through the gameplay, helped to keep things flowing with a sense of purpose. The game is still as challenging as expected, but I find myself grinding to get more upgrades, which helps justify the difficulty.

Being that the original source was an 80’s arcade coin-op, you never really knew why you trekked through each colorfully enemy filled room. The one thing that lacked for me overall, was the bland level design and very inconsistent difficulty levels. I found myself playing the story on easy to try and get a play through with multiple classes. Yea…Bout That…

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Playing on easy sure didn’t feel like it. I had to start levels over numerous times because I would run out of skull coins. These coins you will find or earn in each level and allow you to continue a level with the sacrifice of losing a chunk of the gold you found. Once you get a good amount of gold, I would suggest doing some upgrades right away, because you can use all the help you can get.

I can appreciate Arrowhead Games’ own twist on a game I loved playing as a kid. They are two different games that share similar traits both good and bad. The difficulty is there; the multiplayer is solid and does the series justice in many ways. I recommended it for the hack n slash, dungeon crawler fans. Lastly, if the four classes aren’t enough, for $4.99, you can purchase and unlock the Necromancer that summons ghosts and archers.

Grade: C+