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Gangs of Sherwood – Review

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Born and bre din Nottingham, England, I’ve heard every story about Robin Hood, but Belgium developers Appeal Studios want to change things up a little with an alternate-universe future dystopian and slightly weird take on taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

Appeal Studios are best known for the about average “Outcast” and it’s sequel, but now under THQ Nordic, they’ve been making games for approaching 30 years and for better or worse, Gangs of Sherwood might be their most ambitious title to date.

Set as a solo, or up to 4-player co-operative third-person action game, you’ll swing, shoot and fight your way through Nottighamshire in pursuit of the deadly Sheriff, you’ll visit the major oak, Locksley and various other locations you might have heard mentioned in tales about everyone’s favourite hood, and probably a few more that aren’t as familiar.
Having seen most of these places first hand, I can’t say any look like their real-life counterparts, but there’s still a pretty impressive level of detail.
Gameplay fits the run of the mill 3rd person action game you’ve probably played a dozen times, there’s a few platform sections helped along by a air-dash and grappling hook and then you’ll mozy through the linear level until you find an open area, where you’ll battle a handful of enemies, before something coincidentally opens up the path to the next area just as the final foe drops to his knees.

The story is mostly delivered through fully voice acted dialogue between the characters and a friendly (but slightly annoying) jester, as well as named bad guys you’ll come across as set points (usually the end) of the levels.
There’s a number of main missions, each split up into acts, which deliver nice bite-sized chunks of action without dragging on too long.

When you enter the lobby area, you’ll find your locked to your chosen character, but if you back out and change to someone different, you’ll be able to resume your saved progress.
One things that obviously doesn’t carry across is character progression so while it’s definitely worth checking out each character, for anythign more than a misison, you’ll want to stick with your favourite as there’s a range of new abilities, and skill-tree like power-ups to unlock.

As you might expect from any tale of Robin Hood there’s four main characters in Robin, Maid Marion, Friar Tuck and Little John, the latter two are more melee based tanks, while Marion is great for crowd control with fast ranged whip attacks, while Robin (arguably the best of the bunch) has a good mixture of close-range attacks, with his trusty bow making him lethal at range.
There’s also charged attacks such as Robin’s special arrows and Marion’s daggers, which can be cast while holding RB (light attack) even as part of a combo. Depending on your skill set-up, you can then set these to add additional effects, such as damaging other nearby enemies, making certain attacks more powerful or a poisonous damage over time.

In all it leads to quite a fun and fluent combat system, only let down by how repetitive it soon starts to feel.
Most enemies will either trundle towards you or stand and shoot at range, so you’re ultimately going to be utilising the same few combo’s time and time again.

The game definitely works best with more players and after hours of playing solo, I eventually had a second player join me for a few missions, playing as Marian my comrade took Robin and I found my whip attacks where keeping enemies distracting while Robin fired at range then concentrated on the odd single target, with a 3rd (or even 4th) player controlling on the close combat characters, I’m sure it would have been an even more enjoyable expeirence.
Sadly when solo, gamepaly returns to tried and tested methods and combo’s, so I can definitely see the most enjoyment being with a co-op team, but little over a week after release, it seems there’s already quite few playing, so you might be relying on friends over randoms.

While gameplay is pretty good, engagement could be a little better, but it’s the presentation where Gangs of Sherwood feels a few arrows short of a quiver.
As mentioned earlier the game world is pretty well detailed, but the characters aren’t quite upto the same standard, animations often feel janky and repetitive, you don’t feel “grounded” and at times (especially when running) feel like your floating an inch above the ground and facial animations feel more last gen then next.

My main dissapointment though lies with the sound, the ambience and music isn’t bad at all, and definitely worthy, but the character voices feel flat, emotionless and more like an amateur drama presentation than a profesional story delivery.
Some remarks are painful to listen to as any attachment to the game world or characters is reguarly sloced apart with some under-par voicing, and I can’t even blame it on the actual dialogue, becasue for the most part, it’s not that bad, but the delivery just doesnt sit well with me.

What’s more strange is, there’s so much voice acting, that I’m still almost impresse,d but then rather than a scripted 1 line remark that sounds the same, you’ll suddenly come across an NPS who makes more of a grunting sound as a line of text pops up on screen.

The final judgment is value, and sadly at £45 it feels a little high for the entertainment on offer, if released at £30, I dare say they’d get far more people actively playing, making co-op games more likely and the game overall a far more enjoyable experience. Even releasing on Gamepass at a later date, could bring in the player count to bring the game to a wider audience, but at £45 it just feels like there’s not enough quality for the price tag.

There’s no doubt Gangs of Sherwood is an ambitious game, and in areas such as character variety, combat fluency and game world, they’ve done a great job, but when you factor in the overall gameplay loop and presentation, it’s evident that this arrow fell a little bit short of the target.

Gangs of Sherwood

Review by Lee Palmer



There’s no doubt Gangs of Sherwood is an ambitious game, and in areas such as character variety, combat fluency and game world, they’ve done a great job, but when you factor in the overall gameplay loop and presentation, it’s evident that this arrow fell a little bit short of the target.


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