Stranger Things season 3 is the yet and . The video game based on the third season? Not so much.
Stranger Things 3: The Game is a companion game for season 3 of the hit Netflix show that came out on July 4, the same day as the series premiere. Actually, it was available for purchase hours after the show launched and for good reason. Stranger Things 3 faithfully plays out the events of the third season. Rarely do games follow the source material to a “T,” but this is part of the problem.
Stranger Things season 3 spoilers ahead.
Since the game follows the third season, there’s a bit of a thrill when you control a cast of 12 characters including Dustin, Eleven and Chief Hopper during fights with the Mind Flayer and Russian soldiers. On the other hand, knowing how the story was going to play out meant I had to focus on the gameplay, which is a chore.
Developed by BonusXP, Stranger Things 3 is an isometric action game that looks like it was originally released on the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis and plays similar to the 2D Legend of Zelda games.
You can team up with a friend for local co-op where each player controls one character or by yourself where the second character is computer-controlled. Each character has their own unique attack and a powerful special move that consumes energy. Items that improve health, attack power and other attributes can be crafted by purchasing or finding materials.
Quests help move the story along. Some are lifted straight from the TV show, but most are exclusive to the game. The game depends heavily on “fetch quests,” simple tasks that force players to ferry items from point A to point B. Fairly menial, standard video game fare, but I didn’t mind too much.
What I took issue with is the repetition. You’ll spend the majority of your time in maze-like environments that get increasingly repetitive throughout the game. These dungeons can be found in the most mundane places such as the general store where Joyce works. The quaint storefront just so happens to have a whole dungeon that happens to be filled with monsters. To break up the monotony, there are puzzles to solve in certain rooms, but there are usually clues available to lay out exactly what to do to solve it.
Another problem: the enemies. You start off fighting rats, then mutated rats and then the Mind Flayer blobs that came from the rats. There’s simply not enough variety until later in the game. Boss battles, however, are a lot of fun although few and far between.
Stranger Things 3 takes about seven to eight hours to complete but around four hours in the game begins to feel like a grind. I watched the third season prior to playing the game so I knew what was coming and that compelled me to keep going as I want to see how the climax of the season played out. I can’t say for sure that someone who hasn’t watched the new season will have enough motivation to keep going with the game.
At $20, Stranger Things 3: The Game is a must-play for those absolutely in love with the show and needs to experience the new season in game form. I can’t deny that there is a charm playing a retro game based on the show that follows it so closely. Those not-so-hardcore fans may want to pick up the game when it goes on sale.