Netflix releases a free, retro Stranger Things mobile game ahead of new season
The 80s-inspired show Stranger Things, which sent viewers on the best nostalgia trip they could ever dream of, was an unexpectedly huge success for Netflix. Who could have predicted that the internet would be abuzz with the question: What the hell happened to Barb? Now, with the excruciatingly slow wait for the second season to land on 27 October, Netflix has figured out a way to keep us satisfied. How? By releasing a Stranger Things game with all the hallmarks of a 80s release, except this is on your phone – not on your vintage Atari.
The free game, developed by BonusXP and available on iOS and Android, has you controlling several of the characters from the show such as Chief Hopper and the kids. You explore both the town and the outskirts of a 16-bit version of Hawkins, Indiana, that is lifted straight from the show. You’ll get to wander around the forest, the kids’ homes, the lab and areas completely new to viewers.
It feels just like a classic Zelda game, and each character has their own special ability. These skills will come in use as you progress through the game, fighting enemies, solving puzzles and collecting items like Eggos and Gnomes. Playing through the game and picking up items will let you unlock content, some of which is related to the second season of the show. Thankfully, the game is completely free without any in-app purchases – and an update is due to be released on 27 October when the new season hits the streaming service.
If you thought this was Netflix’s first game, you’d be wrong. This ain’t their first rodeo. Orange Is the New Black’s got OITNB: Red vs Vee and Narcos was accompanied by the release of Narcos: Cartel Wars. More recently, Netflix released a thoroughly unwholesome Facebook Messenger game based on the series, where you play a small-time drug dealer trying to build your very own empire.
Needless to say, Netflix has been quite clever by branching out onto Facebook Messenger too — a platform with a whole different user base beyond those who routinely download apps. Wherever Netflix pops its companion games, the company clearly sees mileage in this promotional strategy. Maybe this means we’re going to be seeing a twisted Black Mirror companion game in time for the new season. Or, actually… let’s be careful what we wish for.