In the world of free to play online games, there is no shortage of games that do it wrong. Sherwood Dungeon is a shining example of one of those. When you first bring up the site, you are told that you don’t even need an account to play. You can simply type in a character name and go. The game itself runs off the shockwave player in your browser window, so there’s not even a download. So far so good.
Upon starting the game you will find yourself on the character creation screen. You have your choice of six different… races? Classes? Skins? It’s hard to be sure. You can pick what color their outfits are, as well as skin tone and hair color on some. Don’t let these screenshots deceive you; the graphics in this game are pretty shoddy. The animation is jumpy and laggy, and the characters all stand at ease in a position that makes you think they have some sort of mental disorder, or suffered an aneurism at an early age. Then you dive head first into this travesty of a game.
There is no tutorial. A pop up gives you slightly vague instructions on how to fight. Then you are free to get lost in Sherwood. As you are gaining your bearings, you’ll notice there are lot’s of what you can assume are mobs running around. I killed a spider by holding down the 1 key, then it dropped a diamond and a ring, with no explanation on how to use either one. Being the veteran gamer that I am, I easily deduced how to equip the ring, but never did figure out what the diamond was for.
There appear to be fetch quests, but I didn’t have the heart to spend any time completing one. Normally a fetch quest or two at the beginning is to be expected to help one master the basic game mechanics. However, as I was left mostly to my own devices to figure out exactly what those game mechanics were, I couldn’t be bothered with killing four spiders for an amulet. The game seems to take place primarily on this tiny island with a hastily constructed castle thing in the center. If you try to swim, you are teleported back to the starting point.
In my action bar (if you can call it that) I noticed the little horsey button. I assumed this was my mount. However, it’s actually a preview of what you could look like with your very own mount if you were to create an actual account and purchase one.
So for my readers’ sake, I went to the trouble to make an account, start the game over, and attempt to purchase a mount. But of course, mounts cost real money, and can be purchased either with paypal or some sort of cell phone payment (no, I didn’t buy one).
In my wanderings I found some portals at the top of the castle thing (I later found out this is referred to as “the keep”), so I figured I would try one.
I was transported to what seemed to be the starting point, only there were black dragons everywhere. So I fought one.
Apparently black dragons are strong.
After I quit playing the game, I went back to the main website to try to understand the appeal of this game. Maybe there was something I was missing? As I was playing I did notice a fair amount of people online in my area. While looking at Sherwood Dungeon website, I found a set of instructions. The instructions on the main page cover all the most basic mechanics of the game. But upon reading them, I found that they don’t even match the controls I was using in the game! I figured out how to play using keys that aren’t the ones listed on the instructions. So there’s a huge discrepancy here.
So here’s the good, the bad, and why should you bother:
The good: You don’t even need an account to “enjoy” this game. So no strings attached. And no downloads can be a plus, unless the graphics and animations are choppy and laggy. Which in this case they are.
The bad: Absolutely no direction, no tutorial, extremely limited customization options, and the combat is about as exciting as watching a snail cross a rock.
Why should you bother: You shouldn’t, unless you are like me and enjoy overindulging in wine and mocking poorly designed games after your wife falls asleep and says you have to sleep on the couch because you’re being “too handsy.” I recommend staying out of Sherwood Dungeon.