Reviewed by Pat Dovale on the PS4
I’ve been a fan of the Netflix show, “Stranger Things” since it originally launched in 2016. I felt that the second season was a little lacking but overall I like the feel of the show and feel that the characters and actors are pretty interesting and likable. So when I got a chance to review the new game, “Stranger Things 3: The Game”, I was pretty damn excited. I thought that its isometric retro look seemed like it could be pretty cool and I was intrigued. Licensed games can be pretty tricky to get right. Typically they either lean too much on the source material or go so far in the other direction that the license is almost irrelevant and used as a crutch. This game definitely falls in the former category and when all was said and done I almost wished that it had been the other way.
Stranger Things 3: The Game follows the story of Stranger Things Season 3 almost to a T
Stranger Things 3: The Game follows the story of Stranger Things Season 3 almost to a T. This was to be expected because when I had first talked with the developer about a review copy they said they’d be sending them out no sooner than the launch of the game as not to allow any spoilers for the show to come out before its release. Unfortunately, this may be what hurts this game the most, not because the story is bad, and not because the game is unoriginal. It’s because the game is rather weak to begin with and with no original story to intrigue fans, there’s not much to behold here. I won’t go into the story any more than this as to not spoil it for people who have not seen the new season yet, but know that if you’ve seen season 3 you have seen the plot for Stranger Things 3: The Game.
There is always a second character who follows you around and assists in fighting enemies
Gameplay wise, Stranger Things 3: The Game piqued my interest quite a bit at first. On first glance, it’s an isometric 3rd person game that is almost kind of like a beat em up. It reminded me a bit of “Zombie’s Ate My Neighbors” at first. You walk around and have an attack button, guard, special move, and special move command for the character who you choose to follow you. There’s a crafting element to the game but it’s not particularly deep. There are five slots for “trinkets” which will improve your stats. You go to a crafting bench and combine 4-5 of the random items you’ve collected along the way and it’ll craft a trinket. There is always a second character who follows you around and assists in fighting enemies or using assist moves. You use the d-pad to choose whether or not your partner follows you, stays put, switch who you control, or fight harder. You have shoulder buttons to swap between all of the characters you’ve unlocked, 12 in total. Each character has their own special ability which typically either attacks a group of enemies for more damage than your normal attack or maybe they’ll drop health/stun some enemies. The problem is once you find a character you like to play with and has a decent attack you find yourself just sticking with them until you get to a small portion where you need to switch to open a lock or crawl in a vent. This brings me to my next major gripe. Combat.
The combat in this game is incredibly repetitious and boring
The combat in this game is incredibly repetitious and boring. Like I said prior, you have an attack, a special, and a block/defensive move. The special is limited by an energy meter and you have anywhere between 2-5 uses depending on the character. You basically just save this for bosses or groups of hard enemies. Beyond that, all you’re doing is hitting the attack button over and over until the enemy dies. I found myself basically never using the defensive button because you still take damage anyway and the first aid kit that heals you takes an extremely long amount of time to cool down after use. Due to the time it takes for the health kit to cool down, it is completely pointless to purposefully get damaged using the block button, even though you do get a small power boost for your next attack. This results in you mindlessly walking around mashing the attack button over and over again until whatever rat or bad guy you’re attacking finally runs out of health and dies. The world is also littered with bushes and boxes to destroy. These are filled with money and items so you’re literally running around mashing the attack button through the entire game nonstop, whether it be for enemies or for loot. The repetitive nature of the combat leads to my BIGGEST gripe about the game.
The entire game is a fetch quest
The entire game is a fetch quest. Yes. The. Entire. Game. Is. A. Fetch-Quest. Let me give you an example of an actual mission in the game: You are informed you need to go talk to Hopper. He’s at his cabin. The cabin is surrounded by a locked fence. Someone says “Oh I think I saw a key in the woods”. Go to the woods, fight some rats. Find the key. Go back to hoppers cabin, open the fence. Talk to him. Hopper says “Oh I need to go talk to the mayor first”. Go to city hall. Mayors office is locked. “Oh, I think I saw a key down in the basement”. Find the basement elevator. Power to the elevator is off. Go to find the power switch. Fight some rats. Flip switch. Go to the basement. Fight some bad guys. Find the key to the mayor's office. This is literally the entire game. It’s nothing but mind-numbing fetch quests and mindnumbing combat along with said fetch quests. You need to get to the pool area so you go to the pool but the guard won’t let you in so you need to make him a milkshake with ex-lax in it and that requires you to go to three different stores in town to gather the ingredients for the ex-lax shake and then go to the ice cream shop so Robin will make the shake for you. But of course, when you get to each location for each ingredient there are further things you need to accomplish. It’s endless. I hate it.
this game is a miss for me
All in all, unless you’re like a crazy diehard Stranger Things fan that has to consume all Stranger Things content, this game is a miss for me. I really was excited to dig into it and thought I might get something akin to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but instead, I got a very basic repetitious collectathon/fetch-quest. The combat was hollow, the missions were repetitious, and the story was kinda moot because it is precisely the same as the show, only more drawn out. There’s one theme here and if you ctrl+f it might be the most commonly used word of the review: REPETITIVE. There were side quests to accomplish in this game which reward you with money or items but I was so fucking tired of just mindlessly mashing attack and doing fetch quests that after about 30 min I completely ignored every side quest and just b-lined it to the next story quest, desperately trying to get to the next chapter so I could finish the current fetch quest I was on! Stranger Things 3: The Game is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.