Hammerwatch is like Gauntlet. It is really, really like Gauntlet. Gauntlet is pretty fun. Hammerwatch is pretty fun. Do you like Gauntlet? You will definitely like Hammerwatch. Do you dislike Gauntlet? Well you might still like Hammerwatch. If you have never played Gauntlet, let me explain how Hammerwatch plays. It is simple, and simple on purpose. You hack and slash and dungeon crawl, taking on hordes of enemies while mashing the attack key. You also have a few special attacks that vary depending on the class that you select.
The pixel graphics are incredibly simplistic but the backgrounds still look nice. The control scheme is the same… you can use a controller if you like, as all you really need are a few buttons. You move, you shoot/attack, and you use your special attack. That’s it. You don’t level up but you do get new special moves and you do get buffs, and skills and combos and things as you gain gold. The most complicated thing in Hammerwatch is the soundtrack which is actually great and probably the best thing the ambiance has to offer.
Hammerwatch isn’t just Gauntlet, though, so much as it is every “Action RPG.” For this reason it is interesting to look at as game design devolved. Specifically it is Diablo III in its purest form. Diablo III has a very rigid skill and level up system. You don’t really get to select the skills that you want to unlock…they just unlock at a certain level. This leads itself to an illusion of choice when it comes to using skills to get combos. Hammerwatch removes this illusion and you get skill combos just by killing consecutive enemies. So you are not mashing different skills together repeatedly in the exact same order like you do it Diablo III, it removes that step and just does it automatically. In Diablo III, leveling up feels important so you can be strong enough to fight the enemies in the next area. But it all just happens naturally as you move throughout the game, and you are stronger against stronger enemies so it doesn’t matter as much as the skills you gain. Hammerwatch removes the levels and just leaves the new skills and buffs.
|Pictured: My Basement|
Hammerwatch is a minimalistic look at the Action RPG genre. Or maybe it isn’t and it’s just a hack and slash dungeon crawling Gauntlet clone? Either way it’s only $2.49 and it’s fun to dick around with. Verdict: Buy it.