Gangs of Sherwood: A New Take on a Classic Tale
Just a few months ago, Pinocchio received a new adaptation in Lies of P, and now another popular story has turned into something far removed from what we are used to. In Gangs of Sherwood, Robin, Marianne, Tucker, and Little John are placed in a fantasy/technology world. The locations and characters are familiar, at least to the names, and this is an adventure that can be played alone or with three other people, which is definitely preferable.
At least at first, the adventure feels a bit cheap and stiff. It has a fair amount of brilliance in how it looks, works, and feels, but offers ugly character models with half-baked lip-sync that doesn’t immediately make a good first impression. However, it feels better when I relax and join the action in Sherwood Forest. The environments are very nice and prove to be varied throughout the adventure. Regarding the image update, everything went smoothly despite a lot going on, and it was a lot of fun. The visuals generally succeed in creating a good atmosphere, sometimes giving it a Fable vibe, and even though the mix is quite broad, everything manages to blend in. I would have liked to see the game’s areas offer more space to explore, though, as it would be nice to have something to wander off the beaten path.
Combat can often get very chaotic, but it goes very smoothly.
Chaos is first and foremost what this primarily involves. There are a lot of scary things happening in the city, Nottingham and its surrounding areas seem to be on fire all the time, and there’s misery everywhere the heroes go. Luckily, Robin and his gang move in to try and save the world like the happy rebel gang they’ve always been.
Each round starts with you selecting your character, the main difference here is the type of attack they perform, so it’s all about trying what works best for you. If there are several of you, you can decide democratically who will take on what tasks. Of course, Robin has his trusty bow, while Marianne fights with a sword. Brother Tucker wields a big staff and can also be resurrected, and the not-so-little John is the strong man of the gang.
The character models are nothing to drool over.
The linear levels we provide are easy to pass. Detours can lead to treasure chests, but usually just find a ledge or hidden passage. Otherwise, you can mostly just run forward with ease, but it’s also equipped with a back hook for climbing ledges. In classic design fashion, when a more open area appears, you often rely on stealth to clear out enemies, and sometimes you can use your surroundings to deal damage to enemies in your path.
Even when you try to create a bit of a sense of mission with nearby objects that must be destroyed, or when you have to bring a cart loaded with explosives to a target, there are no immediate gameplay surprises. If you want to collect some optional things in the environment, if you want to find these things to extend the game time.
The flow of all the battles is one of the absolute highlights. You can fluidly alternate between different types of attacks, either dabbling in melee combat or keeping your distance. There are also some special attacks here that can quickly reduce an enemy’s health. For example, Marianne has an attack where you throw a dagger, and then you can set up a combo and then have it loose, destroying a good portion of the enemy’s health that way. The heroes’ attacks are basically the same, but it’s still fun to choose a new attack and experience the level in a slightly different way than last time.
Some environments are pretty fancy, though.
After each battle with a bunch of bad guys, one’s efforts are evaluated in a small ranking system and rewarded in the form of gold coins upon reaching the end of the level. A slightly stronger boss awaits, which also offers highlights in terms of skillfully dodging, finding opportunities and using all your abilities. In between all these missions, you’ll eventually reach the headquarters; a cozy chapel in Sherwood Forest, where you can upgrade and purchase new abilities before continuing your adventure. The pacing is maintained throughout, and for those who prefer high-paced and action-focused games first and foremost, it rarely gets boring.
Even though Gangs of Sherwood Gangs of Sherwood seems a bit simplistic, or rather incomparable to the technical larger games, I still think this offers something that I think some players might miss, which is an opportunity to have fun together. Of course, this doesn’t offer much depth in and of itself, and the levels run quickly and aren’t very extensive. But I think the co-op aspect and all the action is good enough to make it interesting. It’s easy to join a party with others, although it’s a shame that Gangs of Sherwood doesn’t support cross-play between different consoles.
If any studio feels the need to make a Rogue II -style stealth action game starring Robin Hood, I’d love to join the Kickstarter queue.
I think the developers came up with a really good concept, even if Robin Hood’s explanation is basically just a boilerplate of different names and locations. The adventure can be just as effective as something of your own design, although the controversy surrounding what we know about it is a bit amusing. I also appreciate a lot of the environment here. Best of all, the outdoors is more visually pleasing than the cities and mines you visit. But above all, the possibility of joining the adventure with others should definitely be emphasized, this fact alone actually adds one point to the score.
All in all, this is a game where the slightly rough surface has to be polished to a great extent to take it to the next level. The basics and ideas you have here are definitely good, but the execution is a little too simplistic. Most importantly, it fills a void when it comes to cooperative games of this type, and if you feel like you’ve been looking for something like this, Gangs of Sherwood is definitely worth your time.