Title: Stranger Things 3: The Game
Version Tested: Xbox One
Available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Mac, and PS4
Developer: Bonus XP, Next Games OYJ, Netflix – Building A
Publisher: Bonus XP, Netflix – Building A
Genre: Action, Adventure
Official Site: https://bonusxp.com/games/strangerthings3thegame/
Release Date: July 4th, 2019
Where to Buy: Microsoft Store, PSN, Steam, and Nintendo
On July 4th, most of us were surprised to see that Netflix had released Season 3 of Stranger Things. What was even stranger was on the same day Stranger Things 3: The Game was placed on all digital gaming app stores. Usually, game adaptations of movies or televisions shows tend to veer off the deep end – Home Alone 2 or Minority Report. Stranger Things 3: The Game doesn’t head toward the terrible TV to game transformations. In fact, the game’s story has more similarity in comparison with the new season, but not completely exact.
Warning: If you have not seen Stranger Things seasons one, two, or three, there are spoilers ahead.
The story for Stranger Things 3: The Game followed pretty much the same plot as the show does. In the beginning cut scene, Russians have devised a giant machine ray opening a portal to the upside-down. Then the mind flayer from season 2 had never made it through the portal so ended up corrupting the rats to control the townsfolk of Hawkins, Indiana. Playable characters from the show appear like (El)even, Nancy, Hopper, Dustin, Mike, Steve, etc. to counter the attack of not only monsters from the upside-down but the Russians as well. Pretty straight forward, right? Not completely.
Half of the time, Stranger Things 3: The Game would stay on track with the story but then cut ties with the main quests to do small side quests. An example would be in the first chapter where Mike would have to go to the pool to find his mom, Mrs. Wheeler, for money to go on a date with El. Once at the pool, Mrs. Wheeler will be gawking at Billy as Mike and Lucas enter to ask for money. She agreed, only if you go to the Starcourt mall to buy her favorite shampoo. As your characters leave the pool, Billy bullied the player to buy him a pretzel. Side quests are meant to be something to do on the side but having to do them as a primary goal to complete the story kind of gets repetitive after a while.
There are a couple of areas on the map to walk from place to place where quests would take the player. These include Hawkins Suburb or the Starcourt Mall. All of these areas are pretty large and have certain secrets only able to be unlocked with characters discovered by playing through the story. An error I tended to run into that threw myself out of the experience was doing certain quests with characters didn’t match up with the cut scenes. There was a quest where you would have to get coffee for the editors and writers at Hawkins’ Post. Nancy would be the ideal candidate to play but the player can switch to Dustin and still would get a cut scene with Nancy.
The gameplay of Stranger Things 3: The Game has an interesting take on the action/adventure RPG elements. Following the same style as old school arcade game beat em’ ups like Double Dragons or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stranger Things 3 created the same atmosphere of the same genre style.
The game can be played solo or local co-op. There are 12 playable characters to play throughout the game. Each character has their own unique attacks and abilities. Lucas has more ranged attacks with his slingshot and the ability to shoot bombs; Jonathan has the more up close and personal punch attack with the special power to stun all enemies with his camera. Crafting tables can be found all over the areas to collect certain items and create specific perks to enhance each character. Although collecting the items to make those upgrades are tedious and strenuous as they are not given to you until halfway through the game. Little garden gnomes can be found throughout the game as little collectibles to complete a special side quest (one that isn’t mandatory).
Fighting enemies (Russians, rats, or upside-down monsters) can become repetitive and all-around boring. Depending on the difficulty level, the enemies will either attack lesser or harder. Blocking incoming attacks are possible, surrounding the character in a bubble resembling a shield from Super Smash Bros. A problem can occur when blocking as the attackers could surround the player, making it almost impossible to escape from unscathed. The boss fights were not too hard to figure out and could be easily killed once you figure out how to beat them. Puzzles were tough but in a good way. Some of the obstacles I would encounter could stump me for a good 30 minutes. Switching on pressure plates to open doors or using circuit breakers to open certain doors and having to switch between characters was incredibly satisfying to complete.
Graphically, Stranger Things 3: The Game was not mind-blowingly impressive but the sound effects and soundtrack are something worth noting. Opening doors effects made me remember playing Vectorman when he would double jump. Items dropping or opening up crates gave me the satisfaction of hearing a small victory bit sound. The soundtrack used some of the older songs from the original show but only in a 32-bit output. The music never got redundant to listen to as it was easily looped.
Verdict: Overall, Stranger Things 3: The Game was an enjoyable experience. Either playing by myself or with a friend, the beat em’ up gameplay and multiple characters to choose from with specific abilities can be entertaining. I only wished that the quests didn’t force me to do side quests or the combat wouldn’t be quite as repetitive. If you’re a fan of the series and have seen the 3rd season then, by all means, it’s worth looking into. For those who have not? I would recommend watching the previous seasons – unless your the type of person who doesn’t care for spoilers.
- The whole cast is playable
- Upgrades and collectibles
- Original Soundtrack 32-bit
- Puzzles are challenging
- Local Co-op
- Follows almost identical to the Netflix series: Stranger Things season 3
- Some side quests are mandatory
- Beating up minions can be boring
- Character quests/cutscenes don't register properly
- People may have no idea what the story is about