Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
Sometimes you just want to lean back in your chair, slice through a few hundred cliche fantasy-novel monsters, and let your mind wander. Luckily for you, Gauntlet--the grand-pappy of evil-horde-clearing hack-n-slash--is happy to oblige. Not much has changed since the old days. You still make your way through levels, looting treasure chests and dropping undead soldiers by the dozen. You still hunt down and destroy "generators," the odd little shanties that spit out said creatures. It's a simple formula, but one that still has the power to hold me in a mesmerized stupor, emphasis on stupor. Sure, a modem twist shows up here and there. Seven Sorrows baits you with a role-playing-game-style character development system, but the game's short length (easily clocking in under six hours) makes leveling up unrewarding. The attacks held back as "unlockable" are essential to enjoying the game's bone-thin combat. And for a game named after its bosses (the "Seven Sorrows"), the boss fights sure are uninspired. We also noticed major lag issues online--hopefully Midway will work out the kinks.
I'm surprised I had so much fun with such a derivative game. No, Seven Sorrows' story isn't anything special, nor are its graphics all that impressive. The action-RPG and puzzle elements reek of simplicity. Hacking and slashing, though responsive, take on a familiar tune (sure, you can make use of the purchasable combos, but banging on one button works just as well). And yet I found slogging through generic levels and destroying monster generators enjoyable, even soothing. Add in the multiplayer, which is practically a necessity against some bosses (and a pain with everyone confined to one screen), and you'll find it tough not to have some familiar, if fleeting, fun.
In so many ways, Sorrows barely scrapes by: The pathetic story is little more than a voice over still pictures (leftover storyboards, perhaps?), the levels are predictable switch-flippers, and the plain graphics and muted effects are shrug-worthy. But against all this mediocrity, the engaging combat system (ranged attacks, special moves, melee combos) stands out; it's great for button mashers and finesse players alike, even if the enemies rarely require any variation in tactics. And like all Gauntlet games, Sorrows' short-lived fun multiplies with the number of players. It doesn't entourage cooperation in any interesting way, and lag screws up the game online, but with friends on the same console it periodically reminds you why this was once a great franchise.
Download Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP