Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

Not a classic, but not bad either.

The mere mention of Gauntlet floods brains with memories of funneling quarters into arcade machines for just a bit more health. No game has truly captured the magic of the original, but Seven Sorrows comes the closest, even if it is ultimately less than legendary.

Back to Basics
The Emperor has seven sorrows: one is the knowledge that he crucified our heroes, and the remaining six are twisted creatures whose counsel he unwisely kept. Don't expect more than hackneyed dialogue from the minimalist cut-scenes, but then you're not here for plot contrivances, right? Luckily, Seven Sorrows' presentation is head and shoulders above anything else in the series, sporting as it does waving fields of grain and grass, some killer magic effects, and a beautiful orchestral arrangement of the main theme.

Play is solid, if predictably repetitive. Gone is the key collecting that left so many treasure chests unopened, along with the branching paths and potions. What you're left with is charging from one fiend generator to another, occasionally flipping switches or letting magic loose at Death itself. Carving up monsters is frenetic fun, apart from a few irritatingly cheap boss battles, but only comes truly alive when playing with three buddies, online or off.

The Eye of the Beholder
The RPG elements are a low point, with stats that don't make enough of a difference, and a catalogue of purchaseable moves that runs dry shy of the halfway point. The four character archetypes each get his/her own collection of cool techniques, but because all except the absurdly overpowered Wizard can fight, from near or far, with nearly the same effectiveness, the differences are almost purely aesthetic.

Watching these heroes pirouette amidst the violence is surprisingly entertaining, and while Seven Sorrows doesn't deliver fully on the promise and longevity of its progenitor, it does provide a fleeting good time.

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