Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

Seven Sorrows is best played with 4 players which helps retain some semblance of the intended Gauntlet experience. by Vaughn Smith

January 5, 2006 – I can’t trash a classic like Gauntlet. It’s the original four-player co-op, dungeon crawling, hack-and-slash game that all others are compared to – including Seven Sorrows. When you trace the origins of the Gauntlet series back to the arcades it’s easy to see why gamers fell in love with it. Up until Gauntlet arrived on the scene, multiplayer games were virtually non-existent. With a depth never before seen in a coin op, gamers flocked to arcades and pool halls to work their way through the dungeons in search of secrets, treasure and adventure.

Seven Sorrows takes the heart of the original Gauntlet and runs with it which might confuse gamers expecting something along the lines of Dark Legacy. Originally Seven Sorrows was to be a far deeper experience (note: arcade depth and home console depth are not even on the same scale) but due to a troubled development, many of the grandiose plans for Seven Sorrows were left by the side of the cobblestone road. What we are left with is an entertaining 4 player game that is more twitch gaming than RPG, but it’s fun while it lasts.

The backstory of Seven Sorrows is actually deeper than the gameplay, but if you’re one of those who needs an excuse to hack and slash, it will definitely help. The Four immortal heroes aptly named the Valkyrie, the Elf, the Wizard and the Warrior were betrayed by the Emperor of the Uricointi Empire who secretly coveted their immortality. Thanks to some mis-information spread by one of his 6 magical advisors he became convinced that the four heroes were responsible for his misfortune. In a classic double cross, the Emperor’s six trusted and powerful advisors turned on the Emperor after the heroes had been stripped of their immortality and confined to the Great Tree Rit’i Malki. Realizing his error and using the last of his magic power, the Emperor freed the heroes and now requires their help to rid the world of the 6 sorrows he has spread to the world. Conveniently this task is thrust upon you as it’s now your responsibility because you bought the game. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Aside from the boss battles, the focus of Seven Sorrows is to hack, slash and combo countless waves of monsters while attempting to make your way to the generator that keeps pumping out these abuses of nature. Keep repeating this process and you’ll find yourself at the end of the game, most likely sooner than you’d expect. There is no arguing that Seven Sorrows is a short game although you can increase the longevity by playing alone, but what fun is that? The role playing elements involve increasing your individual characters attributes by spending the cash you find on new moves. Admittedly some of the moves you begin the game are good enough to carry you through most of the adventure, but there are some fancy shmancy moves that curious players will want to purchase, if only to change things up a bit.

Seven Sorrows manages to improve upon the feeling of individuality which hasn’t been evident in previous Gauntlet games. For example playing as Elf is distinctly different than playing as Valkyrie or the Warrior and I believe that to be Seven Sorrows greatest strength. Control of each character is responsive and tight and I suggest wringing every ounce of playability out of GSS by completing the game with each character.

On the graphics front Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows isn’t going to blow you out of the water, but it manages to throw enough visual glitz your way with the various magic spells and other lighting effects. The Monster-Generator 3000’s live up to their name, spitting out copy cat monstrosities which don’t exactly push the envelope in terms of imagination or creativity, but what do you care, since you’ll be dispensing with them in no time flat. However every once in awhile a new monster will rear its ugly head that manages to impress – and I’m not just referring to the boss battles. The games camera does an admirable job focusing on the action at hand, but every so often you’ll find yourself battling in a confined space which makes enemies and other evil nasties hard to get a visual on. It’s not a dealbreaker and is pretty much par for the course with dungeon crawlers, so chances are high that you’ve experienced this before and dealt with it accordingly.

As mentioned playing with three friends is a great way to spend a few hours, especially if you play on the hardest levels. If you can’t find three buds to play with in person, for the first time in the history of the series you can take Seven Sorrows online. The hard part might be finding three other players online at the same time as you, but it can be done. You can always have the gang over for a 4 player fest on one TV which is the preferred method of Gauntleting. Gauntlet is a social game so it should be played as such. Taking the game online is actually quite smooth over XBL, but I can’t say that I had any experience with the PS2 version online.

Faithful fans of the original might be relieved (or disappointed) to discover that you can no longer freak out on the moron who shoots the food (health) accidentally, as this particular mechanic has been axed from Seven Sorrows. Personally we always enjoyed punching the doofus in the side of the head who shot the food when some of us so desparately needed it but maybe that’s just me and my friends….from 20 years ago. God, where has the time gone? I used to have hair dammit! Oops. Just ignore that part of the review kids, as one day you’ll suffer from hair loss and I don’t want to depress you too much. But yeah, chances are that hair covering your forehead today will be a distant memory in 10-15 years. Maybe even less. Sucks doesn’t it? Let me tell you something….when I was your age I used to have nightmares about losing my hair. In the dreams, I would be looking at myself in a mirror and freaking out because I had lost so much of my precious hair! Now check this out….My “hair reality” is so bad now, that I would literally KILL to have the amount of hair I had during those nightmares. Pleasant dreams kids!

Seven Sorrows won’t win any awards for depth or creativity, but it is a worthwhile hack and slasher that will most likely please fans of the original. Length and difficulty are issues though and you’ll really have to decide if this is a renter or a purchase. If your parents have run the Gauntlet back in the day, nothing would be better than firing this up and having at it with them by your side. Unfortunately one missed opportunity is a playable version of the original Gauntlet which would have given many people extra incentive to purchase Seven Sorrows. Maybe next time.

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

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