What is it?
Robin Hood: Legend of Sherwood is a stealth-based, real time tactics game in the vein of Desperados or Commandos. It is developed by Spellbound Entertainment and released in 2002. As the name suggest, it is set in medieval England and features characters from the Robin Hood legend such as Little John, Will Scarlet and Maid Marian.
Story wise, the game follows Robin of Locksley as he returns to England and discovers his father has died, his inheritance confiscated and his godfather imprisoned. While investigating where his godfather is, he frees his old friend Stutely and forms a band, setting up quarters in Sherwood Forest. He recruits several familiar faces like Little John and Will Scarlet and meets up with Maid Marian for a few missions. They attempt to appeal to Prince John when they discovers that Prince John’s henchmen are behind his father’s murder and his godfather’s imprisonment. When he attempts to set a meeting with John, he discovers that John is preparing his coronation, refusing to pay King Richard’s ransom. As the game progresses, Robin steals the crown jewels to prevent John’s coronation, defeat John’s henchmen and gather enough funds to free the true King of England.
Gameplay wise, Robin Hood is a game focused on stealth and tactics. The game tracks how many people you’ve spared and encourages you to either slaughter or spare everyone. You can use characters with the knockout ability or use characters with blunt weapons to make sure injuries aren’t fatal. For each mission, you can bring up to 5 different characters with varying skills. Certain skills are required for certain levels, such as the ability to lock pick or shoot arrows. There are secret side quests in most story missions, which you can discover by giving beggars some money and gaining some information. Side quests can range from simple stories like punching a corrupt taxman and stealing his gold to something like helping a mother get her son’s corpse from the stock.
The combat system is one of the most enjoyable aspect of the game. When a character is engaged in combat, you draw with your mouse to give commands. For example, dragging the mouse diagonally will have the character slashing in the direction and drawing a circle with have him do a spin. Every weapon type also have an ultimate attack done by drawing a figure of 8. Though things can get a little hectic if you engage multiple battles at once, especially if your characters are in a tight space. A spin would knock everyone out, even your allies.
After each mission, you’ll return to Sherwood Forest. The background music there still pops up in my head from time to time. There you can assign your extra merry men to do tasks like create ammunition, make herbs or train. Ammunition is not limited to arrows alone. For example, Stutely can throw nets to trap people and Robin can throw coin pouches to distract guards.
From Sherwood, you’ll be able to select your mission. Repeatable side missions need to be done between story missions, they come in only a few forms and in three maps and can get boring after a while. In these side missions, you can utilize special markers to activate traps or summon uncontrollable merry men to help you out.
The enemies in the game get progressively stronger as the story progresses. And they are mark by the colors on their uniform. There are also several types of enemies, which can influence how you fight. There are swordsman with shield, and when archers are around, they would hide behind these swordsman so you can’t shoot at them. There are also knights on horses using flails, who can knock out your character in a single blow. You could also climb on higher grounds to avoid them.
There are also large scale battles throughout the game. There are a few castles in which battles are a possibility. The battles usually boil them to sending Robin and his gang as a crack team of special ops to open the gates up for the rest of the army to pour in. Battles are won when enough strategic points are captured. These were fun as hell to play.
What I want to see in a Sequel
I don’t want to see a Robin Hood sequel as much as I want to see a game with similar style and gameplay. The tactical stealth aspect to it is a high point, but more importantly the battle system is what I enjoyed the most. The drawing of the mouse to execute moves made the experience very cathartic.
Instead of Robin Hood, I could see a game about other legendary figures being developed, such as King Arthur. It would be about him and his Knights of the Round Table. They would be based in Camelot and the knights could be sent on missions outside the player’s control. Aside from that, I could also see there not being a need for Arthur himself to be present in every mission. He is the king after all. The story could focus on Mordred’s rebellion and battles could be fought over castles around Camelot and Mordred’s castle. The player could potentially gather info, ambush troops and raid weapon caravans to weaken the enemy.
I honestly don’t see there being a possibility for this one. Tactical stealth games have never been the hottest genre around, and is certainly not so today, in a world dominated by instant gratifications and spectacles. And the studio best known for developing this genre of game – the same studio that made Robin Hood, Desperados and Commandos – Spellbound, has been defunct as of 2012. They’ve reformed as Black Forest Games, but they’ve not done any tactical stealth games for a long, long time. Their latest games are a sequel to the Giana Sisters (a platfomer) and Rogue Stormers (a multiplayer platformer). So it’s very unlikely they would make a stealth-based real time tactics game.