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Stranger Things 3: The Game launches alongside the new series

Less upside-down, more back-to-front.

A new run of Stranger Things hit Netflix today, but I'm not allowed to watch it until the missus is free to binge on it too. She didn't say anything about not playing Stranger Things 3: The Game, though. Out today and developed by BonusXP (the folks working on Dark Crystal Tactics), it's a very Super Nintendo-styled action RPG with split-screen local co-op. Perhaps not quite the same '80s nostalgia as the show, but it doesn't look half bad, and the developers claim it covers most of the third series's story. Below, a launch trailer, although I can't say how much of it is spoilers.

Despite obviously not adhering to old console limits (it's a widescreen game, after all), there's a certain authenticity to the sprites. They're chunky in a familiarly nostalgic way, and their simple, exaggerated walk cycles remind me of isometric SNES RPGs like Shadowrun. While I've not delved deep into it myself, I've been told that it is surprisingly accurate to the show, give or take a bunch of extra combat and puzzling because that's what you do in these games. As such, if you want to dodge spoilers, you'll want to catch up on the show before you play this one.

Interestingly, the game is party-based even if you're playing solo. There's a total of twelve playable characters, although they seem to have equalised the power between them a bit. Probably for the best, as Dustin's spray-can would otherwise fall a bit short of Eleven and her reality-sundering psychic powers. You can switch what character is in the lead, and an AI controlled buddy will occasionally lend some support, although from what I've seen so far, they don't really carry their weight. Of course, crappy partner AI is also retro authentic, even if some of the fine details are off.

Stranger Things 3: The Game is out now on Steam for £15.85/€17.96/$19.99.

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Stranger Things 3: The Game

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Dominic Tarason