The Hasbro owned Nerf brand has established itself as one of the most popular range of children’s toys in the form of the foam dart ‘Nerf Blasters’. The products are fun, kid friendly and offer a suspicious amount of entertainment for older members of the family who engage in the foam play. That fun, chaotic and exciting action that takes place around the house or the backyard has somehow failed to translate into Nerf Legends. At a time of the year where the term ‘Game of the Year’ is being banded around, Nerf Legends manages to find itself in that conversation only when adding the word ‘worst’ at the beginning of the sentence. Terrible gameplay, bland puzzles, a myriad of bugs and a completely unplayable multiplayer mode contribute to Nerf Legends being not just one of the worst first-person shooters of 2021, it’s one of the worst games period.
A brief campaign mode takes players on a five-to-six-hour quest to defeat five Nerf masters that unsurprisingly lacks any detail or context as to who they are, why they need taken down or any purpose for the player in general. The lack of meaningful purpose or logic behind the motivations of the player throughout the campaign make the mode feel redundant, with it feeling like a chore from start to finish. Populated by multiple repetitive obstacle course-like areas that are teeming with unintelligent AI to defeat and monotonous and uninspired puzzles to solve before moving to the next area to do it all again. The fun factor of what makes Nerf guns so fun to play with in real life is absent from not just a narrative point of view, it unfortunately fails to appear in the gameplay.
Shooting feels clumsy due largely due to the ridiculous recoil on every gun and the painfully slow reloading – which for some reason is far more frequent than seemingly every other first-person shooter ever made. Ammo can be collected when fired but they are difficult to see amidst the equally dull environments. The frantic fun found in real life by shooting all of your shots and frantically scrambling to recollect the ammo and keep on fighting the good fight sounds like a concept that would be so easy to implement and expect, it’s a shame that the core gameplay is entirely unsatisfying.
Enemy variety is lacking, pitting players against robot spiders and androids that are unintelligent and borderline impossible to be killed by. The lack of any sort of challenge or difficulty from the enemy eliminates the stakes and when combined with the trainwreck gameplay, bugs and the “puzzles”, Nerf Legends just continues to fall lower and lower in the enjoyability scale.
The term “puzzles” could not be used more loosely when discussing those present here. Shooting buttons and holding down an area from waves of enemies while a timer counts down will become very familiar, very quickly. The button shooting sequences are almost always in the immediate area and certainly won’t cause players any problems in solving.
Guns jamming, loss of the ability to even turn and phantom crosshair movement that feels like an extreme stick-drift are overwhelmingly frequent and death manages to generate its own issues such as not respawning at all. Quitting to the main menu is the only solution but that too comes at the cost of losing all progress for the level and having to start it from scratch. Serious delays in lip-syncing, dashboard crashes and floating enemies still don’t scratch the surface of the issues I experienced in my painstaking seven or eight hours on an Xbox Series X.
There is a multiplayer mode available though for some reason it does not work. At all.
The sound design is arguably as offensive as the gameplay. Reaching low health will result in a loud heartbeat that remains until healed, cringey dialogue, samey guitar riffs and excessively loud healing items that consist of three or four loud beeps that essentially taunts and challenges the player to take their headphones off or mute the game.