Thank you so much to BonusXP for providing a review code.
Author’s Note: This review will have spoilers of Season 3 of Stranger Things. Please be wary of these spoilers if you read the review.
Stranger Things is a series that needs no real introduction. It is a series that took the world by storm and has yet to let go. For gamers, the experience as been predominantly mobile-based, with games 1 and 2 of the series both being mobile exclusives. Stranger Things 3 is the first to get the console treatment.
How does it fare? Does it deliver something as groundbreaking as the series upon which it’s based, or is it another example of film and tv adaptations that just don’t cut the mustard in the gaming sphere?
Keep reading to find out.
The story of the game follows the plot of the series almost to the letter. The few minor adjustments were made to both add elements of gameplay and to keep the game moving forward. However, these changes do not break from the main storylines. The bosses at the end of each chapter match the episodes of the same number.
Hawkins was safe. Bob Newby gave his life and everybody was saved. Life moved on. The kids grew up, and as life has a habit of doing, had them slowly drift apart. Relationships have formed and others have started to with, in that unnoticed way that only the approach of adolescence can truly drive.
Then come the Russians, and their plan to cross dimensions. Don’t forget that this was set in 1984, so back then, everything was the Russians (Cold War). It’s another touch that keeps this series rooted in the decade and holds you in the belief that you are there with them.
To avoid spoilers, the story divides into two
core, but interrelated storylines.
The Mind Flayer
The mind flayer is awake, and it is growing
stronger by the day. Can the kids stop it before it ends the world?
Billy … poor poor Billy. No more than that
needs be said.
Evil Russians are trying to open the gate to the Upside-Down. Not in the lab, but from a secret base installed under the new Hawkins mall.
Nancy and Jonathan, hunting for a scoop in the role as newspaper interns track down some leads on a series of mysterious incidents and soon find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for.
Dustin, Steve, and Robin working from their ice-cream parlor base go up against the Russians in heroic fashion.
Hopper (oh Hopper!!) and Joyce team up with
a captured Russian scientist and conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman to take down
corrupt officials and infiltrate the Russian base.
Slowly, the storylines converge before the
epic final battles. Two simultaneous events that will change the lives of
everybody forever. Or at least until Season 4.
The gameplay is very similar to that of the mobile games that preceded it. With enough differences and additions to make it a worthy console game, but the core base is still very much mobile-driven.
Crafting and collectibles give it some nice RPG elements, and you will soon find yourself hunting down garden gnomes just, because they are cool.
As you unlock the different levels, more and more characters will join your group. You play with two characters at a time, controlling one while the other follows the orders you give them. Characters are pre-set to match those that are involved in that particular moment in the tv show, but can be swapped about freely with whoever else you have in your party.
This allows you to customize your party and make the best use of everybody’s abilities, specials, and boosters that you have crafted.
Some are best for close quarter combat, while others, like Lucas, Dustin and Will are more adept at distance combat. Max is a particularly important character in this regard as her special move it to throw out some life hearts which can come in very handy, especially during boss battles. Just make sure you stock up on medkits and cola cans, because these can be used to replenish both health and special boosters.
The crafting elements were fun, but nothing crazy or too important, while the small side quests offered a nice distraction to the main storyline.
The game offers a semi open-world experience. The map is divided into locations, each location representing a place from the series, such as Hopper’s cabin, the town square, the hospital, the mall and such. Within each location, you are largely free to roam and explore, as you’d like so to speak. You never know what hidden surprises or treasure can be found, or how many gnomes could be lying just slightly off the beaten track.
The gameplay mechanics are straight forward, but work well. You can attack, defend and use a super move. There is no jump button, and you can only interact with certain objects, which does help keep you on track at certain times.
The game is a pixel art, puzzle-filled beat ‘em up, combining both game styles in a nice mix. Some puzzles are so simple you could not even call them puzzles, while others are more complex and will make you think. There were more than a few that you could also just brute force your way through or rely on luck rather than look for all the necessary clues.
Laid out in the same format as the show,
each chapter (largely) follows the episode of the same number in the show.
The characters are well made and can be
easily related back to the cast in the show, while their personalities are
reflected in both their interaction and fighting style.
One thing that did irritate me, and it was
a minor thing, was that while you can select any character and any order for
the quests within each level, the back end seemed to be hardcoded. So you are
playing as Hopper and Joyce, but the scene in the show was between Jonathan and
Nancy, then any interactions with other characters brought up the series linked
characters, not the ones you are playing. I understand why this is how it is,
but it annoyed me a little at the same time, as it broke the flow of what you
The same for the quests. Each level has a core quest and some smaller ones, linking back to the different story branches mentioned above. Now if you were to do the core quest first and then move onto the smaller branches, the text and interactions were, at times, out of sync, as they were talking about doing things you had already done. It might have been better if the ordering of quests was fixed, so the core quest could only be done last. Again, it’s a minor irritation and more one of personal preferences than anything actually wrong.
For the most part, Stranger Things 3 runs very
well. I didn’t notice any problems with the gameplay. However, one thing that
was apparent was that if you paused the game, or stopped playing without
closing it, the first few seconds of gameplay when you restarted were slow and
The game soon caught up and carried on
normally, but it was enough to be annoying when it did happen. This didn’t
happen when loading a save game.
Things 3 is a niche game. If you like the series, then you will most probably
like the game. Yes, it’s still very heavily a mobile game, but it plays well on
the switch and offers some nice puzzles and fight scenes to keep most people
It’s not a game that is going to be remembered
for anything other than its name, but you know what, that’s absolutely fine.
It’s fun, it’s furious and definitely an
Nice Open World Setting
Characters & Settings Look Great
Fun & Entertaining Story
Each Character is Different in Both Appearance & Fighting Style
Dependent on players being a fan of the show
Story Continuity When Completing Missions Out of Desired Order