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  • Writer's pictureOle Gamer Joe

Gangs of Sherwood Review - It's Robin Good?

Gangs of Sherwood

PC/XBOX/PS

Appeal Studios/Nacon

11/30/23





Gangs of Sherwood puts a bit of a futuristic, almost sci-fi spin on the classic Robin Hood tales of yore by featuring mechanical enemies with a steampunk flair. Don't get me wrong, you'll still visit your share of forests, mines, castles, and caves, but with the added twist of modern technology that blends old and new together surprisingly well. This ain't your daddy's Sherwood Forest, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.


Here you'll choose between 4 different rebellious heroes: Robin Hood of course who strikes enemies from a distance with his bow but also isn't afraid to unleash close range combos. Marian the assassin utilizies a retractable chain sword and can toss daggers, Little John the reformed royal knight is more of a brawler who bashes foes with his steel fist and fire-based attacks, and Friar Tuck who has a massive shield and a huge mace. Despite his apperance Friar Tuck best serves as a defensive character, though he can also pack one hell of a punch by charging up attacks. I did quite enjoy using each character as they all feel pretty unique from one another. Ultimately I leaned towards Robin Hood myself for the majority of my playthrough as I liked being able to pull off savage headshots and strike from further away. It's worth playing as everyone regardless, and they even have cool outfits that can be earned to change up appearances a bit.


robin hood and friends
The game offers a unique spin on the Robin Hood of yore

Before setting out on your adventure you may want to hop into the options where you have plenty of graphical settings and a few control schemes to mess around with. On a 4070 GPU I was able to run the game at a pretty well locked 120fps at the 4k resolution, and the DLSS setting on performance mode. This worked well even on the Ultra settings, but I did test 1440p native resolution as well and that was also able to achieve 120fps without issue also at Ultra settings. My co-op partner was on an older 2070 super, and to our surprise even that card was able to handle the game at 2k with higher framerates, so the bottom line is Gangs of Sherwood seems to be really well optimized on the PC. The recommended card is a 2070, so your results may vary a bit if you are running an older GPU or system. As for control settings, players are given 2 options which are modern and classic. I did not see a way to customize in-game, so you might have to tinker around with Steam a bit if you don't like either layout, but I found them both to adapt just fine to a controller. Personally, I wish I had gone with the classic scheme sooner as it uses the face buttons for attacks, where-as the modern scheme relies more on attacking with the triggers which did inevitably wear my fingers out a bit. This game is pretty combo heavy, and can be rather mashy with almost an arcade feel, so you might want to try them both to see what works best for you. It's also worth noting that the game can be played in both an online and offline mode.


As I alluded to earlier the fusion of technology and robin hood creates a fascinating setting and leads to some wonderful creativity in the character designs of the game, but unfortunately this doesn't equate to all that interesting of a narrative. You'll lead a rebellion as the game begins with you rescuing a jester eventually rallying with your allies at Major Oak which serves as your headquarters. The game is broken up into various acts that have their own missions within them that mostly involve saving towns and villagers. It's your classic steal from the rich give to the poor telling without a whole lot of substance, but be honest, you aren't playing this game for substance. That said, their are some really impressive voice performances throughout that help to bring solid energy to the script. Robin Hood fans will certainly recognize many of these locations and characters and of course the classic villain which should bring a smile to their faces.


a jester with robin hood
Gameplay is rather simplistic and combo heavy

Gangs of Sherwood does host a decent amount of sidequests and hidden treasures, but for the most part feels extremely linear. You'll constantly have a navigation marker to point you in the right direction, and as someone who doesn't mind having their hand held, I personally welcomed this. If you were hoping for more open worlds to explore, you might be a bit disappointed. Most of the diverging paths that you will come across simply lead to the next accessory or treasure, and ultimately back to the main road. Still, I liked that only certain characters could access a few areas due to physical attributes another character may not possess. Robin Hood for example can squeeze through tight crevices while Little John can lift heavy gates and smash through barriers. Gold can also be found by smashing through barrels which lay across environments, but ultimately, Gangs of Sherwood is really about the action. You move from one area to the next taking out a room of baddies using an assortment of combos, and so on and so on. As I alluded to earlier, the game can almost feel like an arcade brawler in its simplicity which I again liked, but others hoping for deep robust RPG elements may be a bit turned off by the accessibility and ease of it all.


Each character can sprint and unleash different combinations of light and heavy attacks. You will unlock additional combos by spending gold back at your headquarters, but for the most part gameplay boils down to tapping two buttons in a set order while rolling out of harms way or even blocking, which I didn't do as much of as I probably should have. Taking a more offensive approach typically worked out just fine during encounters, but the option to play defensively is a welcome one. One of the cooler features of the combat system are environmental objects that you can use against your foes. These range from bee hives that can fall on your enemies heads, to towers that can potentially come crashing down. I almost wish Gangs of Sherwood took things a step further and fully embraced much of this absurdity, as environmental attacks often produce hilarious results. Outside of the fun yet simplistic combat players will encounter a bit of platforming here or there which sadly feels kind of floaty and can lead to some missed jumps. Thankfully the platforming isn't a huge aspect of the overall gameplay.


hammer attack
All of the characters feel rather unique

As you traverse each level expect to come across checkpoints, which oddly don't mean what you might think. Instead, these are designated areas where your resistance members have gathered and depending on how much gold you have earned up to that point, you'll be rewarded increased power and have some of your health restored. It's a cool system, but should you end up dying it is going to be back to the start of a mission. This can be a bit of a pain as your average mission lasts about 30 minutes. Gangs of Sherwood also loves to rank players depending on performance. Depending on how stylish you were you can be awarded even more gold upon completion of an area. Their's a few other systems here including rebel instinct which is more or less a rage mode that can be activated, finishing moves which are stylish in their own right, and even tutorials to learn new attacks back at your hub. And speaking of your hub, not only can you earn new outfits and attacks, but also shard slots. Shards are also scattered across levels and grant various perks like the ability to revive yourself without needing assistance.


It seems obvious to me that Gangs of Sherwood was designed for multiple players, and I think that's where most of the fun is going to come from. Honestly I could see things getting a bit stale if going it alone, but because me and SilentSigns were able to play together, it did ease some of the repetitive nature of the game design. Hopping into a match together was relatively easy and painless, and we didn't experience any disconnects or lagging at the time of this review. Of course that might change when more people are playing, but overall the online experience felt rather seamlessly integrated into the game. I did notice a pretty steep difficulty spike when entering act 2, so that's something for players to consider as well. We blazed through the first act with relative ease, but things do get more challenging as you go. Thankfully their are a few options here should you ever become stuck on a certain mission.


Obviously I was playing on a pretty modern machine, but if you do happen to have that luxury Gangs of Sherwood will deliver a nice graphical presentation. Their are nice lighting effects, texture work, and level variety throughout, with some great looking boss encounters as well. Explosions and other nice visual touches bring this world to life, and while it certainly doesn't reach the heights of a modern AAA game, for a release on a smaller budget I was overall impressed with the presentation. This carries over to the sound design as well. I touched on the great voice performances already, but the soundtrack is rather cinematic and fit the theme of the game very well. All told I found the visuals and audio to work well together. The only real bummer on a technical level were a few glitches here or their. Characters would sometimes get stuck in place for a brief moment, enemies frozen dead in mid air, and we even fell through an elevator at one point. None of this jank broke our game, but still, a few patches might be necessary to iron out some of the ruffer edges.


All told I had a nice time playing through Gangs of Sherwood. This isn't going to be on anyone's game of the year list, but the simplistic gameplay, fun universe, and accessibility make it a fun experience. You'll hit double digit hours of gameplay all told, and who knows maybe if its successful we will see post launch support to add even more. If you are ok with a bit of jank and are looking for a fun little co-op experience, Gangs of Sherwood is rich with entertainment value. I am awarding Gangs of Sherwood the bronze genie lamp of approval.



bronze genie lamp
GOOD!

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