Review by PiMacleod
"Gauntlet gave us what we expected, and so much less."
Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows was highly anticipated. Period. It wasn't to be ground-breaking, or innovative, but the point was that this new iteration of Gauntlet was to bring back our beloved 4 characters into their realm again, ready to hack, slash, and cast their way through countless enemies. Fun stuff.
Since this new Gauntlet did only that, the shear enjoyment factor of this game plummeted to a new low for Gauntlets. I can enjoy hack-n-slash games as much as the next guy, but when the game is completable within 4 hours or less, then something is definitely missing. The previous 3D Gauntlets were not as graphically fulfilling, but they had EXTENSIVE level ups, tons of levels, many items, and just more 'Gauntlet'. Here, we only have 4 characters, and each of them can only level up to 20 times within their short adventure. There is no items to pick up besides food, treasure, and weapon/armor power-ups (and these power-ups really only do so much extra). The treasure, while used to purchase new combo moves in-between levels, has no purpose afterwards, since there is a lack of a high-score board. Finally, each character plays pretty much the same, save for the Wizard, who has to use each combo for certain situations in order to survive. If only they used that formula for the other 3 characters, the game might have received an extra point on it's score, but instead, anyone can pick the Warrior/Valkyrie/Elf, and just mash one combo throughout 98% of the game. Really sad gameplay.
The graphics are pretty nice for Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, though. This latest version does sport the best we've seen in Gauntlet history. That being said, it does not have anything awe-inspiring to stare at, and it's nothing that will make you do a double-take. In other words, with less time spent on graphics, maybe we would've received more gameplay? One can only speculate.
The sound is enjoyable, I have to say. Everything about the sound FX is old-school, from the 'hint' tune, the narrator's familiar lines, and even the title screen music pays homage to the old class of Gauntlet. Unfortunately, they do not add anything else to the game but nostalgia. I wouldn't rush out to buy this soundtrack, nor would I really care if one of my partners turned down the music just to put on a CD of their own.
The controls are nicely down, and very responsive. When I hit a button, the character responds accordingly right away. With that being said, it's very easy to abuse such responsive-ness to destroy the entire game with a literal one-man army. Perhaps if the gameplay were slowed down a bit, and forced the character to think ahead before committing to the time taken to summon a fiery ball of doom, the game might have been more challenging? I believe so.
The replay value is almost non-existent. There are 4 difficulty levels -- Easy, Normal, Hard, and Insane (I believe that's what they call this 4th one). Playing through on Normal is easy....and so is the rest of the difficulty levels. The only challenge comes in the form of knowing when to do what combos. As long as you can remember what combos do what, you should always be safe, and never really suffer from any damage. Each character has a different set of combos, armor, and weapon upgrades, which might entice any collector-type player to try to see them all, but after that, there is nothing left to see. No random dungeon generator, no unlockable characters, only 20 level ups, all add-up to no reason to not just rent this game first, if you want to play it at all.
Finally, there is no balance between the characters. If you want to waste the game in record time, play as the Warrior or Valkyrie. If you want a dash of challenge, play as the Wizard. If you really want to not think a single second through this, only put your level-ups into your Damage stat, and if you fill that up, start putting them into your Health. Mana Regen is nearly useless. Even though my Wizard character has it maxed, it really doesn't regen nearly as fast as it should in order to be useful. In the amount of time you wait for your mana to regen from using a large, screen-killing, Mana-Blast, you could kill the screen 2x (or more) over using just brute strength. It's a real shame.
All-in-all, if you've ever had respect for Gauntlet, then don't play this game....otherwise, you might lose any respect you used to have. Just stick to the older ones, and even Dark Legacy. They still have enjoyment written all over them, even if they do not sport a shiny new coat of graphics. Midway, please try harder next time.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/05
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