REVIEW – Gangs of Sherwood takes a fresh approach to the Robin Hood legend, with a focus on fighting corruption and helping the downtrodden. The story tells the adventures of our hero, Robin Hood, who returns home after the Crusades to confront the tyrannical Sheriff of Nottingham and bring justice to his people. The game takes this classic tale and gives it a modern twist, with twists and turns that help or hinder the story. The team at Appeal Studios has added a number of innovations to the game, but in some areas it has not yet reached the heights expected, which clouds the overall picture.
At first glance, Gangs of Sherwood seems like the perfect choice for those who want to immerse themselves in the myth of Robin Hood, whether playing individually or in a group. As an action game, however, it proves weak and cumbersome in certain areas, which is disappointing. Some parts of the game work excellently and are among the highlights of the gaming experience, but in other areas it needs improvement to stand up to the impressive co-operative games of the era.
In the course of the story, the Sheriff of Nottingham acquires the Philosopher’s Stone and uses its power to build a vast arsenal of weapons, technology and military might over Sherwood. Players can take on the roles of Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck or Marian in the fight against the Sheriff and his army. One of the key elements of the game’s story is an alternate historical scenario where advanced weaponry and technology rule the world.Any or all of the four heroes can play in co-operative mode to defeat evil. The story is engaging, presenting a dark yet exciting scenario of what would happen if one of the most feared figures in Robin Hood history became the ultimate power. The attack on Nottingham and Locksley by airships and siege towers is an unexpected twist that fits the play well. The addition of steampunk elements adds an interesting technological diversity to the medieval setting. The rebellion against Nottingham is dynamic and engaging, keeping players interested.
The biggest disappointment of Gangs of Sherwood is undoubtedly the shortness of the story. I completed the campaign in just 6-8 hours, during which time, although the individual acts are long in themselves, the overall story is only three acts, from the introduction to the final big confrontation. Each level lasts about 20-30 minutes, with three missions in each act. I feel that there should have been more variety in the storylines, perhaps even two additional storylines, to make the game a longer and more complete experience, especially for a title in this price range. Although the story is there, it’s the interaction with your teammates that really makes the game enjoyable.
Gangs of Sherwood is fun to play alone or with friends, but it’s the co-op experience that really stands out. There are several battles throughout the game where each character’s unique abilities can be used to advantage, whether it’s Friar Tuck’s healing abilities or Little John’s powerful metal arm. Despite minor technical glitches, the co-operative gameplay is flawless, with no lag or sync issues. Unfortunately, other areas of gameplay are less impressive.
Despite the variety of playable characters, the opponents are unfortunately not as diverse. Enemies are basically the same soldiers, just copied into different fights, and the main enemies appear as larger versions of specific opponents. The encounters are also disappointing, with a rating system ranking your performance after each battle, similar to the Devil May Cry games, but the gold reward you receive seems incidental and uninteresting.
“Have you gone mad, To say everything twice, to say it twice?” (Frigyes Karinthy)
The gameplay of Gangs of Sherwood falls into the trap of repetition, as while there are many skills and abilities to acquire, the simplest attacks prove to be the most effective. Despite developing my character, I relied on light and powerful strikes as they always worked. The game tries to emphasise the importance of combos using these specific skills and abilities, but I never felt the need to as my strategy was always effective. The game feels like a kind of monotonous combat cycle, where you rush from one battle to the next and then complete the level.
Fortunately, the artistic realisation of the levels is impressive. Passing through the monumental forts of war-torn Locksley or Nottingham, I was struck by how detailed and visually convincing they are. Gangs of Sherwood skilfully draws players into the atmosphere of the game world, showing how war affects different locations in different ways. The spectacular graphics are further highlighted by the game’s constant 60 fps running speed, while some walkthrough cinemas run at 30 fps. However, the cartoon-like art style sometimes detracts from the darker atmosphere and immersion in the game world. Another visual problem is the lack of mouth movement animation in conversations between characters. Although full voice acting and dialogue between characters can be heard on the transitions, this is sadly lacking during interaction with NPCs, further detracting from the immersion experience in the game.
Ambient sounds and synchronous voices
It’s a shame about these shortcomings, because the sound effects are there. When I was stringing Robin’s bow, or defeating enemies with Little John’s artificial arm, the blows felt like real pain. The actors who animated the band of heroes each brought a unique character to the play, and their constant banter was enjoyable. The funny quips and captivating music created an atmosphere that made me feel like I was in the heat of battle, fighting against the rule of Nottingham.
Unfortunately, the availability of Gangs of Sherwood is limited. It’s surprising that in a modern game like this, only the controller sensitivity, motion blur and brightness can be adjusted, and no subtitles are available. This shortcoming makes the game experience particularly sensitive.
It should also be added that the price of Gangs of Sherwood is not commensurate with the content offered. As a cooperative action game, it might be more realistic to price it at around 8-10 thousand HUF. Although the game offers a short campaign and additional modes, the monotonous combat means that the overall quality does not justify the high price.
In summary, Gangs of Sherwood is an attempt at a Robin Hood-inspired cooperative action game that falls short in several areas. Although the story and cooperative gameplay experience stand out, beyond these, players will quickly seek out other gameplay interfaces. Appeal Studios has sneaked some unique elements into the game, such as the steampunk style and varied characters, but these fail to really shine through due to the mediocre gameplay.
-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-
+ A new approach to the legend of Robin Hood
+ Exciting cooperative gaming experience
+ Visually detailed and impressive art implementation
– Shortness of story and incomplete variety
– Monotonous and simple combat system
– Lack of mouth movement animation, limited accessibility options
Developer: Appeal Studios
Style: Cooperative action game
Release: November 30, 2023.