Sherwood Extreme is a new free-to-play title from developers CAGE Studios and Umbra Game Studios that has a particular target audience in mind. And the early access title has the potential to satisfy that audience spectacularly.
Sherwood Extreme puts players in the shoes of crossbow enthusiasts, parkour lovers who are out to save the fantasy kingdom of Sherwood in style. To do so, players run through levels shooting goblins as they bounce off giant mushrooms, do action flips, and zip-line through the levels. It is full of arcade shooting action that is all delivered with a tongue-in-cheek charm.
As of writing, there are not very many levels, but they each have a distinct personality. There are coastal cliffs, a medieval fortress, an enchanted forest, and a rocky region complete with rivers of lava. Each level offers its own distinct challenges, whether it be the sheer scope of it, environmental hazards, or the density of enemies surrounding the player at different angles.
The structure of Sherwood Extreme will see players running through the levels repeatedly. What mission a player will run is decided by the challenges they accept in the small hub world. Every challenge assigns a mission certain modifiers like enemies dealing additional damage, different types of enemies spawning in, or players having reduced speed.
There is a decent variety of randomly grouped modifiers for challenges, but many of them are more frustrating than anything. For example, modifiers like slowing the player’s shots or movement speed offer a real challenge, but more often than not, they make the game feel sluggish and unresponsive. On the other hand, like enemy arrows exploding on impact or being more accurate, other modifiers provide a more fun challenge as they necessitate tighter play and usage of the game’s traversal mechanics.
While the modifiers help to offer variety to runs of levels, enemy spawns remain unchanged, allowing players to familiarize themselves with the levels and better perfect their runs. This is the main attraction of Sherwood Extreme. Players looking to chase higher completion times or perfect levels by mastering their minutiae are exactly the kind of players that Sherwood Extreme is well built for.
The game can also be played completely in co-op, which adds a lot to the experience with players being able to ride one another’s shoulders and provide buffs to one another with some upgraded shields. The levels all scale well to a multiplayer experience, and having a friend tag along definitely makes some of the more challenging levels much more enjoyable.
Sherwood Extreme is also launching in early access with a survival mode that puts players in charge of protecting a castle against waves of goblins that steadily increase in size. Players get a choice between two randomly selected upgrades sporadically, which can be pretty game-changing. During one run of the mode, my character was equipped with a boar mount, jetpack, and automatic crossbow with exploding bolts just a handful of waves in.
Unfortunately, the mode does not offer enough variety or mechanics to hold one’s attention for more than a playthrough or two. The mode is straightforward, and the upgrades that players accumulate on each run make it even more so to the point of many waves becoming trivial.
Completing challenges and survival mode rewards players with currency that can be used to upgrade their equipment as well as buying cosmetic items to customize their character. Upgrades include different shields and crossbows with a variety of characteristics like healing allies or rapid-firing bolts. The upgrades are well balanced and offer players options to fine-tune their playstyle without feeling tunneled into following a linear progression path of unlocks.
The cosmetic options, however, tend to be more lackluster. Some of the options are fun, but the majority are uninspired and rather dull. This is made especially worse with how many cosmetics are only available with a microtransaction currency but still are mostly plain-looking clothes and simple outfits. Of course, this could change in the future, but as of now, there is a problem with players feeling as though there are not many desirable options to spend their money on.
The cosmetics are even more disappointing since Sherwood Extreme’s low-poly art style has a lot of character to it, and it is easy to imagine a bevy of interesting and fun skins that would feel right at home in the game’s light-hearted fantasy tone.
The game also disappoints on an audio level as well. The music in levels does not pack as much punch as one would hope for, and the tracks quickly become overly familiar as players complete repeated runs.
In the end, Sherwood Extreme will satisfy a very particular type of player. It offers an experience all about skillful play executed as quickly as possible. There are a handful of aspects that are not fully fleshed out or developed, but fleshing out and improving those aspects are exactly what early access is for. Hopefully, Sherwood Extreme will use the program well and be able to build a community of players who love what the title has to offer.
Sherwood Extreme is available on PC on May 12, with a release on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S planned for Q4 2021.
- Rating - 7/107/10
Sherwood Extreme will satisfy a very particular type of player. It offers an experience all about skillful play executed as quickly as possible. There are a handful of aspects that are not fully fleshed out or developed, but fleshing out and improving those aspects are exactly what early access is for. Hopefully, Sherwood Extreme will use the program well and be able to build a community of players who love what the title has to offer.