Stranger Things 3 The Game: A 16-Bit Retelling of Season 3
If you have NOT seen Strangers Things Season 3, TURN BACK NOW! This review will have SPOILERS!
Alright, still with me? Let's begin!
The Stranger Things 3: The Game is playable on the Nintendo Switch and was released alongside the series on July 4th. I downloaded the game that evening, got my snacks, rounded up my mom, husband and my pup Harley. We began our Strangers Things ritual, that we have come to look forward to every year. I decided to get at least 4 episodes into the show before I started playing the game and I am glad I did.
You start off playing as Mike but in total there are 12 characters you can unlock and play. You play through highlighted moments in each episode. Right from the start you play pivotal scenes Mike seeing Eleven, being yelled at by Hopper, welcoming Dustin home from science camp, setting up Cerebro to contact Suzy, receiving the Russian message and ending up at Starcourt Mall to see Steve and meet Robin.
Each of the characters have their own special weapon; Mike has a bat, Dustin has a spray can, Lucas a slingshot and so forth but my favorite is Steve's ice cream scooper. Each character also has their own unique abilities that can be used when a character has enough power. You can also destroy inanimate objects that give you cash or supplies. Supplies can be use to craft items that will power up attack, defense or health. Some items can only be used with certain characters.
However, all these little extra tidbits do not take away the redundancy of the game. There is a lot of the same "solve this puzzle", "use Dustin to hack a code" over and over. The small additions of different story lines tries to break up the monotony of the game but it falls short. For example, when Nancy and Jonathan go to Mrs. Driscoll's house about the rats, you can go to the house as Lucas, Mike or Dustin, alongside Nancy and Jonathan. As you explore the basement, Mrs. Driscoll starts to act weird and more "infected" rats come out. Of course this is the making for a boss battle! Even with these changes, throughout the game, it wasn't enough to give it the little bit of something it's missing.
What I think could have helped? Cut scenes. Even if they were VERY short. Something to help emphasize more on the horror aspect of the show. For example, as you explore areas and uncover new side missions for people in town, you run into dead people. Russian goons are clearly causing havoc throughout Hawkins. The first dead person you see come across is met with a subtle comment of "poor guy" and that's it. I know they are teens that have been throughout A LOT but the build up of suspense is nonexistent. The magic the show has does not cross over well to the game.
However, if you are a fan of the show (like me) you will enjoy the game. Being able to explore Hawkins, encounter new people with side missions, and play through this season is still fun and doesn't require to much effort to enjoy. If you are looking for a challenging game, this is definitely not it.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5.0
Pros: Play as your favorite characters, explore Hawkins, revisit scenes straight from this season. Cons: Not challenging, lacking suspense and the retelling loses its impact.