Remember Hood: Outlaws and Legends? Released in 2021, it took the legend of Robin Hood and spun it into a multiplayer action game where teams competed to complete heists. We weren’t particularly enamoured with it, but it at least it tried to do something a little out of the ordinary. Gangs of Sherwood, on the other hand, another multiplayer-focused affair based on the legend of Robin Hood, is much more run-of-the-mill – with only a steampunk setting to try and set it apart.
Developed by Appeal Studios and published by Nacon, Gangs of Sherwood does have a story but you’re not likely to care for it. As you’d expect it finds Robin Hood and his companions facing off against the Sheriff of Nottingham, but it’s conveyed in such an uninteresting and convoluted way that it struggles to really capture your attention or engage you in any way.
Ultimately, the story feels like an afterthought; something to vaguely tie things together as you move from one mission to the next, spread across a range of environments. It’s also all over the place tonally. One minute you’ve got the horror of townsfolk being hanged. The next, you’ve got Robin Hood and his companions engaging in humorous banter.
Considering that this is a multiplayer game at heart, however, those are issues that are fairly easy to overlook. The trouble is, the rest of the package just isn’t good enough to carry it. Four characters are available here – Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John – and each brings something unique to the table.
Maid Marian, for example, attacks with magnetic blades that she can use to slash at her enemies up close or fling at a distance. With her standard attacks she can build up a number of them that hover around her enemies, before unleashing a special attack that causes them all to move in, causing devastating damage. Little John, on the other hand, attacks with a giant metallic fist. Time your attacks right and you can generate heat, which can then be used to empower a range of special attacks and make short work or enemies.
Depending on who you play as in Gangs of Sherwood, then, you can have a substantially different experience. You’ll still find yourself pushing through environments, ranging from woodland to run-down settlements, searching out collectibles and treasure while facing off against waves of enemies in battle arenas, but you’ll have to alter your approach from one character to the next. You’ll also have an easier time with some characters than others: those of a ranged nature are more able to keep out of harm’s way while defeating most enemies thanks to their basic AI. And that includes bosses, which are equally moronic.
The combat in Gangs of Sherwood is generally fun enough to start with, though while you can unlock new moves and gain access to additional Rebel Abilities further down the line, it soon gets pretty repetitive and tiresome.
The sheer roughness of the game starts to wear you down, too. You encounter NPCs out on missions that seem like they have something important to tell you, exclamation marks at the side of their names drawing your attention. Talk to them and more often than not they’ve nothing of any consequence to convey. They also don’t have voice acting or facial animation. The same goes for story scenes; while some characters have been bestowed some lip syncing, others are left to perform seemingly via ventriloquism.
Pick up Gangs of Sherwood and you might get a few hours of entertainment out of it, especially if you play it with friends. Ultimately, though, this is a mediocre action game with a litany of issues ranging from unbalanced characters to sub-par presentation. For that reason it’s difficult to recommend, even if you’re intrigued by its visually fresh take on the legend of Robin Hood. Though to be honest, this doesn’t feel like a Robin Hood game at all. There’s little stealing from the rich to give to the poor here. And aside from Friar Tuck, his band of merry men doesn’t really seem all that merry.