Review – Stranger Things 3: The Game
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve either seen or at least heard about the show, Stranger Things. The Netflix original series has delighted millions of fans across the world for three seasons now, with at least one to two more on the horizon. It makes sense for a video game tie-in to further capitalize on this incredible phenomenon. On paper, it does seem to have all the necessary components for a worthwhile title. It has a tried and true storyline, retro graphics, and all of your favorite characters to play with. But is this enough to make a successful game?
The story behind Stranger Things 3: The Game follows the events of the third season of the show. It follows them to the letter. That being said, if you haven’t yet binged the whole third season of Stranger Things (like I have), then you should definitely avoid playing this game until you do. It explores all of the major plot points along with a few smaller side storylines that aren’t featured within the show. However, these bonus side quests aren’t enough to give the player a feeling of uncovering a deeper layer of the Stranger Things world. They are cutesie and superficial quests only. So if you’ve seen the show, then there will be no surprises as to what awaits you in the game.
The gameplay is your standard old school arcade style beat ’em up type of game, with some basic RPG elements thrown in. Each of the twelve playable characters have their own basic attack and special move that acts as a strong attack. For example, Lucas is one of your long range fighters who fires a slingshot for a basic attack and charges it up to release a more devastating special attack. Dustin on the other hand, uses a bug spray that will poison enemies and can be effective for long and short range attacks. His special move is to send in toy robots towards enemies and have them detonate after a few moments. Since each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, it’s a good idea to swap them out to find the right team for the right task.
There are lots of puzzles throughout Stranger Things 3 and each of the characters offers some unique trait to get past certain obstacles. Dustin can hack computers and power panels, Lucas can break boulders, and Joyce has bolt cutters that can cut through chains and locks. None of the puzzles are very difficult and usually amount to nothing more than ” find a way to get through this door” or “find the correct person to get past this obstacle”. It starts off somewhat fun, but grows tiresome very quickly.
There is a local multiplayer mode available in Stranger Things 3, but it’s not necessary to complete the game. You play with two characters onscreen, with the option to cycle through unlocked characters as needed. If you’re playing local multiplayer, then you and another player will have control of the two characters being played. If you’re embarking on a solo campaign, then an AI will take over the second character. The AI isn’t too bad, but they rarely have the second character do anything other than lob basic attacks at enemies until they perish. It can be a nice distraction for the bad guys to focus on, but there’s not much more in the way of help here. Luckily, the game is pretty easy to beat on your own.
I have to say that I think going for a 16-bit art style was a wise choice for this game. It emulates more of a SNES vibe, and while I know that system wasn’t released until a few years after the time period of the show, it still gives an arcade feel and offers just enough detail to make the characters and environments charming. Stranger Things 3 doesn’t need realistic graphics, there’s the show to indulge in if that’s what you’re looking for. As I mentioned previously, they follow the exact same storylines with no deviation.
The sound department does an adequate job with recreating the soundtrack from the show with occasionally adding in more synthasized parts to give it a more 80’s arcade feel. The sound effects also follow suit with classic sounds found within a large assortment of arcade classics. It really helps to add to the overall 80’s time period setup.
Stranger Things 3: The Game is amusing enough in its own right, but doesn’t do enough differently to make it a game worth playing. If you want to know what happens to Eleven and her friends, then watch the show. The storytelling is much better there anyway. If you’ve already binged the whole third season in a matter of hours (no judgement) and want to re-experience the whole thing all over again, but with cute pixelated sprites, then I guess you can give this game a try. For me, I just personally don’t see the point when pretty much nothing is different from what I just watched two days prior. Maybe this game should stay in the Upside-down.
The 16-bit art style is a good choice for this game in keeping with the feel of the time.
This is your basic arcade beat ’em up with some basic RPG crafting elements thrown in. The puzzles are beyond simple.
The soundtrack from the show is recreated nicely and the sound effects sound like something you’d find in any arcade game in the 80’s.
Fun Factor: 4.5
After the novelty of seeing your favorite Hawkins characters in 16-bit form wears off, all your left with is a basic game that follows exactly all the plot points from the show.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Stranger Things 3: The Game is available now on Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC, Android, and iOS.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Stranger Things 3: The Game was provided by the publisher.