By – Steven Smith

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

A thief has stolen a precious crystal and you must follow him down a dark dungeon to retrieve it. A firefly caught in a jar for light is your only companion, and also your only food source. Armed with a single weapon and a magic ring you set out in search of the thief in developer Spritewrench’s Rouge-Lite action RPG Shiny Gauntlet. At first glance this game seems very basic, but beneath the cute, cartoony graphics and rudimentary level design lies some well thought out rougelike and RPG mechanics.

When starting a new game you first select a character class. The different classes follow typical RPG archetypes such as Priest, Mage, Warrior, Archer and Thief. Class selection determines your weapon and beginning stats, most importantly Health and Stamina, but the real difference lies in class abilities. Each class has a unique ability the Warrior can increase his Defense and the Thief can make himself undetectable. Using these abilities depletes stamina, which keeps them from becoming overpowered. The Priest class, as an example, has the ability to heal himself but can only do so once due to it’s low level of stamina. After that the character must eat to replenish their stamina. As you play through the game, more classes can be unlocked.

Next you must choose a ring, which bestows special traits to your character. Some offer minor stat boosts, such as +5 to Strength or +10 to Speed. Other rings are much more powerful by offering benefits like health regeneration, stat boosts equal to the number of enemies killed and even one that keeps you alive when your hit points reach zero. At first there are only 5 rings to choose from, one for each class, but as you explore the dungeon more rings can be found. Once a ring is discovered it becomes available at the start of a new game. Finding class rings, such as a Monks Ring or Mystic Knight Ring will also unlock the Monk and Mystic Knight classes respectively.

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

Finally you get to equip aretfacts, these are gameplay modifiers that provide advantages, disadvantages or both. Like rings and classes, aretfacts are unlocked by playing the game. You can have multiple modifiers enabled at once, which can make for some interesting challenges as you progress. One of the more interesting aretfacts I discovered is called the Aretfact of Greed which makes every gold pickup worth five times as much, but you lose one health for each pickup collected. I was able to unlock three aretfacts during my time with the game, but I have no clue how as there was no defining event. Just a simple message on the screen stating that a new aretfact was available. There is also no indication of how many aretfacts can be unlocked. Having some method of gauging progress in this area, I feel, would add some focus to the game.

With class, ring and aretfact selection done you are now ready to play the game. Your character starts in a dark room, the only immediate source of light is a small green firefly. Capturing the firefly in a jar makes it into a personal light source. With light in hand you can now see your surroundings. Before you start exploring the dungeon however a thief appears, along with the stolen crystal, and immediately leaves the room. This is actually a useful clue, but more on that later. The dungeon is simply a collection of big square rooms which take up an entire game window. Each of the four walls may have a single doorway with a torch on either side. Torches are automatically lit by walking near them and provide a much stronger source of light than your firefly. It is possible to completely light up a room with just a few torches.

Walking through a door takes you to a new darkened room of a similar layout. Some rooms are filled with monsters, including some boss creatures, others contain a single treasure chest or another valuable item. The ultimate goal is to find the level exit and descend deeper into the dungeon. Since all the rooms tend to look the same it is easy to get lost. Leaving will extinguish all torches, so when you reenter it will be dark again.

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

This seemed like an odd design choice at first since it becomes more difficult to know which rooms have already been explored. I soon discovered that there was a better, although more subtle, system of showing where you have been. Even though the torches are all dark, there is some light coming from the doorways themselves. Lit doors indicate which paths you have previously taken.There is one more cue about which way to go when exploring the dungeon, the thief. When the thief appears at the start of a level, he always leaves the room in a direction leading to the exit. If you want to get to the next level quickly, follow the thief. I actually chose to go in the opposite direction to fully explore the dungeon and see what other treasures it offers.

These other valuables include treasure chests, weapons, boss creatures and shrines. Treasure chests can contain new rings or stat boosts. There are five stats in the game; strength, defense, luck, critical hit and speed. Collecting stat boosts give a +1 each and also count towards your next level up. So instead of gathering XP you must boost your character stats to advance. You may also find weapons that belong to another character class, such as the archers bow or thief’s dagger. Your character can hold a total of two weapons. Switching weapons doesn’t merely change how you attack, it actually changes your class. Wielding the archers bow transforms you into an archer and gives you their stats and class ability. Sometimes you will enter a room and the doorways will be immediately blocked, this means you have found a boss.

Some of these bigger creatures can be really tough and have multiple styles of attack. Some will chase you around the room, others stay stationary and launch ranged attacks and a few can teleport or burrow to appear in different parts of the room. When defeated these bosses may leave a piece of themselves behind, this is actually an aretfact setting so it can be toggled on or off. I highly recommend keeping this feature active because monster parts can be picked up and provide many different benefits. Any part collected will be put in your inventory jar, so if you have a firefly in there it will need to be eaten.

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

Some parts offer specific boosts while held in the jar, such as allowing you to see enemies in the dark or adding a ranged component to all melee attacks. Other monster bits benefit you when eaten, such as temporarily raising your defense or permanently raising your hit points. I even found a few bosses whose leftover body parts offered two different effects, one while held and the other when eaten. The final item to watch for are shrines. By giving gold to a shrine it will drop stat boosts around the room. This was slightly exploitative as there were times when I was able to give a few thousand gold pieces in exchange for enough boosts to level up multiple times.

Overall Shiny Gauntlet feels very balanced. Death is permanent, but the inclusion of rings, artifacts and unlockable classes gives you a sense of progression even though you are starting over. There is no best class to play as each has it’s own unique strengths. The only real downside to class selection is that some of the classes begin to feel the same. The warrior class has the slowest attack speed which is offset by having higher damage, while the mage has a much faster attack but not as powerful initially.

In terms of Damage Per Second these two characters are about equal, but add a shrines worth of strength boosts and the mage begins to surpass the warrior as a melee fighter. In fact, I pretty much played all classes as melee only combatants with the odd exception of the Warrior. With the right combination of aretfacts, rings and monster parts the Warrior becomes the best choice for a spellcaster build.

However there is plenty of time to experiment with different combinations of classes as the game is fairly short. In the few runs where I actually succeeded in my goal of retrieving the stolen crystal my total play time was about 45-50 minutes. So really, this is all the time it takes to beat the game, which is good as there doesn’t seem to be a way to save the game and continue later. The entire game must be played in one sitting, which is not a feature I like in games. Another odd design choice is the controls, by default the game uses WASD to move and the arrow keys to attack in the four primary directions. I found this to be slightly awkward and it took me several tries before I was paying more attention to the game itself than to what keys I was hitting.

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

Shiny Gauntlet is a solid title that combines roguelike elements and action RPG gameplay. While the overall game is simplistic in presentation, it does provide some depth and a good amount of replayability. It is currently going through the Steam Greenlight process, but is available direct from the developer, and a few other outlets, for $7.99.

Shiny Gauntlet Technical Summary:

Shiny Gauntlet Review He

  • Time Played – 8 Hours
  • Resolution Played – 600×760
  • Widescreen Support – No
  • DRM – None
  • Control Scheme – Keyboard
  • System Specification – 2.93GHz Intel i7 870, 4GB RAM, GeForce 9800GT
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Demo – Yes
  • Availability – Humble Bundle, Itch.Io
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Occasional Freezes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes (Only Mode Available)

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