Gangs Of Sherwood Review

Gangs Of Sherwood Review

Gangs of Sherwood isn’t a green-washed wonderland. It’s a gnarled, twisted maze of shadows and secrets, a haven for outcasts and lunatics but with a sci-fi twist. The air crackles with the energy of rebellion, every leaf, and branch echoing with the whispers of defiance against a corrupt crown and steam-punk style mechanisms and autonomatons.

The boys at Appeal Studios aspired to create their interpretation of the legendary Robin Hood. His Merry Men are no mere band of jolly bards and clumsy archers. Little John, a towering figure of a man, wields a robotic hand the size of a ham, his temper as formidable as his strength. Friar Tuck, a devout warrior, can outdrink and outfight any man in the kingdom, aided by his formidable explosive mace.

With such an imaginative premise, what kind of experience do Gangs of Sherwood have in store for gamers? It turns out it is a raucous stylish-action game with online co-op. Imagine a functional Babylon’s Fall, but without the existential dread and soul-crushing tedium, and you get Gangs of Sherwood.

Gangs Of Sherwood
Developer: Appeal Studios
Publisher: Nacon

Platforms:  Windows PC,  Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: November 30, 2023
Price: $39.99 USD

Gangs Of Sherwood throws out the tired old Robin Hood playbook and injects it with a potent cocktail of magic, mead-fueled mayhem, and tech-fueled badassery. Appeal took the combo-driven melee of Devil May Cry, but cranked up to eleven and spiked with enough absinthe to make a banshee weep, and stirred it with set-piece-laden linear stages.

Combat as Robin in Gangs Of Sherwood is a fascinating juxtaposition. On the one hand, his melee attacks are lackluster with his longbow. However, this weakness is counterbalanced by his deep and complex archery system. Robin is capable of truly outrageous feats, reminiscent of the action-packed gameplay found in PlatinumGames titles.

Players can juggle enemies with multiple knocked arrows, unleash a devastating storm of delayed shots charged with arcane magic, and utilize a variety of cancels, air-cancels, and charge attacks. This level of complexity and technical mastery is rarely seen in archery-based combat, making Robin a truly unique and rewarding character to play.

However, it’s important to note that the full potential of Robin’s combat system isn’t immediately apparent. In the early stages of the game, the cast will feel somewhat limited due to the need to unlock techniques and perks. This can give the impression that the combat is shallow and repetitive.

But as players delve deeper into Gangs Of Sherwood and begin to unlock its full potential, the game’s true flexibility and depth begin to shine. With a diverse array of techniques, perks, and equipment to choose from, players can tailor the gangs’ playstyles to their preferences and create truly awe-inspiring displays of raw power.

While alone or with friends, you’ll be dodging laser bolts and enchanted sword swings like a seasoned matador dodging a pissed-off bull, all while unleashing combos so devastating they’d make a ninja blush. Robin and Marian are quick and nimble, flitting around like fireflies on a sugar rush.

Little John and Friar Tuck are more like wrecking balls, smashing through enemies with the grace of a drunken elephant. Alternate routes that hide stage-specific perks can only be accessed by certain characters, so if you’re playing alone, there is an incentive to replay stages as other heroes.

You can swap between these merry misfits between stages like a seasoned gambler changing cards, each with their unique skills and abilities. The more stylish your combos, the higher your rating, the more bragging rights you get.

Gangs Of Sherwood hits you with a “Sci-Fi fantasy Robin Hood” concept like a spiked punch to the face. Airships soaring over Sherwood Forest, energy-powered longbows, and enough gadgets to make Doc Brown blush – it’s a premise that promises a wild, reinvented adventure. That initial high fades quickly, leaving you staring at a narrative that’s as flat as a day-old ale.

The setting is admittedly eye-catching. It’s like taking a time machine to a Victorian rave, where feathered caps are paired with laser rifles and corsets are accessorized with bandoliers. It’s all just window dressing for a story that’s as predictable as a sunrise. The only notable deviation is that Marian is somehow the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John used to be his henchman.

The developers are more interested in the novelty of the setting and gameplay than crafting a compelling narrative. They throw in established tropes and public domain characters like confetti at a parade, hoping to distract from the fact that there’s no real substance beneath the shiny surface.

Robin feels like a cardboard cutout, and the rest of the cast are just interchangeable cogs in the narrative machine. The cast is kept very broad and rigid. There’s no depth, no exploration of their motivations, just a shallow sense of familiarity that relies on the player’s pre-existing knowledge of the Robin Hood mythos.

The result is a game that feels hollow and unfulfilling. It’s a missed opportunity to truly reimagine a classic and create something original and memorable. It’s like biting into a beautifully decorated cake, only to find out it’s made of styrofoam.

Gangs of Sherwood is a prime example of a game where the developers got lost in the flash and forgot about the substance. While the setting might be visually appealing, it ultimately fails to mask the emptiness of the story. Don’t expect to go galavanting off-course into King Richard’s dominion, because the stages are highly linear and are meant to be replayed.

While Gangs of Sherwood may not boast the cutting-edge graphics of AAA titles, it paints a captivating picture within the limitations of Unreal Engine 4. Its secret weapon? A cunning combination of post-processing magic and meticulous lighting.

Gangs of Sherwood shimmers with eldritch energy. Lush forests shimmer with an ethereal glow, casting dancing shadows that hint at the unseen. The lighting in Sherwood Forest is a masterclass in atmosphere. Sunlight filtering through the leaves casts dappled patterns on the ground, while shafts of light pierce the canopy, highlighting the intricate details of the environment.

Not everything looks its best. Regretfully, Robin’s character design is woefully dull. The entire cast of characters has striking silhouettes and harmonious menageries of color, yet Robin is just a guy with a hooded coat. He doesn’t even have a cool feathered hat or a wildly adventurous smirk. He lacks the swashbuckling flair that the character is known for.

Gangs of Sherwood is also prone to bugs. Robin’s arrows have a mind of their own, sometimes getting sucked into some unseen vortex and hanging there like a cartoon Coyote who hasn’t looked down yet. The game itself ain’t shy about crashing either, booting you back to the home screen faster than a drunkard thrown out of a saloon.

Sometimes the game will hang infinitely on a loading screen, taunting you while that fiendish Sherrif of Nottingham’s forces drop bombs on King Richard’s kingdom. Other times, the enemy AI will be stuck on objects or will give up entirely. Gangs Of Sherwood needed more time for the boys at Appeal to finish cooking it.

For a mid-level developed AA game, Gangs Of Sherwood has a lot going for it. It can be played entirely alone offline and it doesn’t try to nickel and dime the players with obnoxious battlepasses or offensive DLC.

When the game opens up a bit, the combat is a lot of fun and there are plenty of scenarios to experience that keep the action varied. Don’t come for a story, but do expect some high-energy spectacle and wild action.

Gangs Of Sherwood was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Nacon. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Gangs Of Sherwood is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5.

, ,

The Verdict: 6

The Good

  • Imaginative sci-fi punk interpretation of the story of Robin Hood
  • Responsive and flashy Devil May Cry-inspired combo-driven combat
  • Four distinct playable heroes
  • Offline solo and online co-op
  • Impressive sequences with epic scale

The Bad

  • Disjointed mission structure and lack of cohesive world
  • Robin Hood's design is very boring compared to the rest of the cast
  • Prone to various graphical bugs and glitches
  • Highly limited exploration
  • Uninvolving story


A youth destined for damnation.

Where'd our comments go? Subscribe to become a member to get commenting access and true free speech!