“Stranger Things 3: The Game is the official companion game to Season 3 of the hit original series! Play through familiar events from the series while also uncovering never-before-seen quests, character interactions, and secrets!“
Developed by BonusXP in collaboration with Netflix, Stranger Things 3: The Game is a brave attempt by the subscription streaming giant to break into the video game landscape.
Not only do they have to tackle the gargantuan task of creating something that will satisfy the masses, they also need to do justice to the ratings magnet that is Stranger Things.
A mighty task indeed, which is why it may seem like a truly strange thing that BonusXP was commissioned to take the helm, given that their prior work was not exactly enticing.
BonusXP proved to be up to the challenge, however, launching an isometric RPG, which is a direct play through of the events of season 3. And, might I add, in a very nostalgic-stuffed pixel art adventure that screams “play me!” at both the avid retro gamer, and fan of the TV series.
Oddly enough, Stranger Things 3: The Game was released in tandem with the third season of the show, making it hard to play immediately without running into spoilers.
The developer has tried to avoid as many spoilers as possible while trying to keep a good flow going with the gameplay.
This means that there are occasional scenes that seem rushed, or are omitted from the game entirely. However, the core storyline plays out in the same order that we see in the show.
Staying true to the beat em up genre, players spend a ton of time destroying objects to gain cash, items, or replenish health and power. Growing up, this simple mechanic was the cause of countless hours of smashy fun times.
Maybe it’s because this game is meant to be following a story that many of us witnessed in the show, but there’s something off about the destruction method when applied to Stranger Things 3: The Game. One second you’re talking to Robin over at Scoops, the next you’re smashing everything you can right in front of her.
Ok, that’s not the best example.
I have a better one. How about when speaking to sweet old Mrs Driscoll in her house, then destroying her television, raiding her fridge, and robbing her of any cash and items stashed around?
Sends a stranger message, which may have been overlooked if it wasn’t such a massive part of the gameplay.
You smash objects and enemies to find loot, and must do so regularly in order to find the right items to craft into trinkets – a special item that grants a specific perk, or buff to certain character’s attributes.
Speaking of the characters, Stranger Things 3: The Game gives us a glorious 12 playable characters, and the structure of play allows you to use two at the same time.
Not all the characters are in your party to begin with, in fact you start out with just Mike and Lucas. But, as you progress through the storyline different characters join the crew, and become available to use at the drop of a hat.
You can go this one alone, and play as one character while your other is controlled by a fairly dumb at times AI. Or, play co-op with a buddy locally. Keep in mind, you not only get to switch between the two active characters, you can also switch each of them out to any other unlocked character.
Due to all the playable peeps having their own unique attack and special ability, you need to learn to use each of them effectively. Added to that, you’ll want to get used to using multiple characters to accomplish a task, and changing to the one with the best suited skill before being taken out.
To avoid giving away any spoilers, let’s not dive any deeper into the story. It’s worth pointing out that this is not a short game, with some players stating it took them around 20 hours to clock. It really would depend on your experience with isometric RPGs and grindy beat em ups, and your willingness to go back to the same places many times to complete side quests and unlock trophies or achievements.
For the trophy hunter, there are plenty to find in Stranger Things 3: The Game and most are not too difficult. As mentioned, it gets a little grindy at times, especially when fighting your way through the same groups of enemies every time you go back to that location. This happens often, and most of the time you’ll only be doing it to find one small item, or solve a fairly easy puzzle.
Final Thoughts: While it was a bit disappointing to encounter spoilers playing through Stranger Things 3: The Game, this can’t really hold too much weight in regards to a review. The game play was very reminiscent of early RPGs, and the quick swapping of characters certainly give it a nice touch.
The soundtrack is not up to scratch with what the show has provided each season, and seems to only consist of a handful of songs, which you will hear many many times.
Hours of entertainment, and smashing of everything in sight await those brave enough to face the Mind Flayer in Stranger Things 3: The Game.