The successful series of the Duffer brothers, Stranger Things, has become a real phenomenon after his first season aired in July 2016 and since then the series has not only been a television program, but a cultural phenomenon. The series has, since its first debut, a partnership with the clothing giant H&M, the Burger King fast food chain, the Baskin Robbins ice cream franchise, the food manufacturer Eggo, the mobility sharing service Lyft and Coca Cola (to name a few) – but very few partnerships have been launched on other media, as well as a mobile game released in 2017 and its partnership with Fortnite . Until today, as recently released Stranger Things 3: The Game developed by BonusXP, Next Games Oyj and Netflix – Building A for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One.
The game was promoted as the “official companion game of the third season of the original series” in which the franchise fans would have had the chance to play the various events of the third season and although this is partly true, the game suffers from a somewhat hasty plot (which makes sense considering the amount of content that was then included in the game). We recommend playing after seeing the entire season, because spoilers are many and sometimes take the player by surprise during side missions.
The Gamestarts exactly from where the third season begins, with [attention, spoiler!] the player sees some scientists who have a secret discussion about an energy beam and its stage of development, before taking control of Mike and Lucas inside of the Starcourt shopping center in Hawkins, Indiana. From the beginning (probably because of the cooperative aspect of the game) the player can then alternate between the two characters and from that point on there will always be two characters in the party, even if the characters themselves may change from time to time. The first mission is to get the player into the cinema by taking the entrance through the ice cream parlor where Steve works. So far so good, but since this is a video game, some events are added; instead of running from the
The missions do not differ too much from one another, and there are many puzzles that are solved in much the same way, such as pulling the levers in the correct order, standing on the pressure plates or pushing garbage cans on a third pressure plate while your characters remain on the other two. Generally you will go from point A to point B, perhaps beating someone along the way and experiencing a simplified version of the series plot.
The gameplay is simple, in the sense that you break things with the only weapon, power or melee attack of your character, which sometimes gives you objects or money (and destroy enemies with the same attack). We found ourselves continually pressing button A to swing more than we interacted with almost everything else, because there’s really not much to interact with than just destroying objects and fighting casual Russians.
To help in battle, each character has a special ability like Undici’s energy explosion, Lucas has his bomb (which also helps bypass the many boulders that block the paths around the city), or the useful healing ability of Max. In addition to this, you can block creating a force field around your character and equip trinkets to boost your stats in minor ways. These trinkets (among other things) can be created using all the random gadgets you find during the game. Among the items that can be crafted, there are new weapons for specific characters, some are defensive additions, some are mission specific and some add some extra energy to your party.
Regarding the storytelling and the title missions, Stranger Things 3: The Game is not recommended for people who have not yet seen the show because the narrative shortens the story a bit to prevent it being too long, forcing the player to fill a plot full of holes and the fact that in reality it does not innovate in any way. Stranger Things 3: The Gameis a multi-character game with some metroidvania elements (it’s worth noting that if you need a character who knows how to crawl, hack, cut or demolish something to continue, switch to the character with that ability if you unlocked them while interacting with any outburst, digital block, padlock or boulder that hinders you, which was a nice find), simple skills and many main and secondary missions.
The secondary missions are not the “Hawkins secrets” we hoped for as most of them see us helping Karen get some shampoo for her appointment with Billy, bring Billy some pretzels or run errands for the lady in the swimming pool. Occasionally the curious secondary mission arrived, like when we were running errands for a certain old lady who was about to turn into an undead beast controlled by the Mind Flayer for the second time, but the game is based exclusively on fetch searches and a quick touch of the button TO.
We can not even say that this is a real tribute to the series, but only a simplification, so the purpose of being a “companion” of the series is lost when you start a “new game”. Don’t get us wrong, we had fun and enjoyed the retro graphics, references and music, but it doesn’t do justice to the series and also doesn’t offer very interesting or even understandable content for those who are not fans of the series. It is very difficult to be “Fan Service: The Game” and, although some aspects allow it, much of the game does not.
We seem to be overly tough, but in the end the game seemed a bit subdued, especially considering the source material on which it is based. It is satisfying to relive the moments of the great TV show driven by nostalgia for the 80s and the design, storytelling and music all present a nice package that is relatively fun to play, especially in the local co-op. The thing that bothers us is the oversimplification of all this. Of course, it is supposed to reflect the 16-bit games of the past, but most of the action consists of pressing a button over and over again, turning back to open a door or crawling along a path to solve a puzzle. We still had fun playing,