Strange Brigade is a cooperative 3rd person shooter/action adventure game developed and published by Rebellion. The game is set in the style of a 1930’s classic movie with over the top narration that is certainly a combination not yet tested in video games and for the most part, it works.
Strange Brigade throws you in the role of one of four characters, each playing exactly the same with the exception of a unique amulet ability, which is essentially a power. No explanation is offered as to how these amulets have these powers but we’ll let that slide. Playing as the different characters, amulet power aside, offers absolutely nothing other than essentially a skin and voice over. There is no speed, strength or stamina differences etc. unfortunately and none of them are particularly exciting characters from a personality point of view which is a real missed opportunity.
Playing as one of these four characters will see you defeat wave after wave of enemies using whatever weapons you have managed to unlock. The player unlocks weapons at the end of each level using the coins that can be found throughout the world. Using your weapons on the environment around you is more fun than the gunplay itself. There are barrels that can be shot to explode, wiping out an entire group of enemies at once. There are numerous types of trap situations that the player can trigger by shooting and this is certainly fun to see play out. There are countless different enemy types all with their own unique advantages and abilities, so this makes the wave situation less monotonous. When you are not destroying waves of enemies, there are plenty of light puzzles and collectibles to keep an eye out for. I personally feel the puzzles in this game don’t fit in. They work in a Tomb Raider type game but not a wave shooter. They feel out of place, far too easy and therefore unnecessary.
The game has a campaign mode that can be played either solo or cooperative online with two to four players. When playing solo there are no AI counterparts, which is both bad and good. Bad because it means you have to do all the work yourself, however good, because as is the case with most games with AI teammates, they usually do very little and need constant reviving. The missions are not too long and are generally a case of get from A to B, solve a puzzle, get from B to C, find a key, get from C to F and beat a boss. Not much variety there.
The story cutscenes are played out in the form of brief black and white vignettes before and after missions. I found this very disappointing considering the amount of mythology and the amazing African and Egyptian setting at their disposal. A solid story told via traditional cutscenes could have gone a long way in boosting the fun of this game.
Then there’s the narrator who is intentionally over the top, I can certainly see what they were going for but personally and I don’t think it worked. He is corny, excessive and honestly quite annoying. His purpose seems to be to add a bit of humour to the action but it’s distracting, unentertaining and for myself, just downright annoying. When the player pauses, he talks. When the player finds something, he talks. When the player progresses to new parts of a level, you guessed it, he talks.
There’s a Horde Mode too but I honestly felt like the campaign was just multiple Horde sections broken up with puzzles in between waves, so while the intention of a mode such as Horde is good, it feels kind of redundant.
The graphics are solid and complemented by a very suitable soundtrack. They work well together and suit the style of the game, it’s just a shame the game does not play as more than just a Horde mode with unnecessary puzzles. The replay value is there if you want to check out all of the characters, you will just be playing with a different ability and getting their own personalised dialogue which while fun and unique but it’s not overall enough to feel worth it. All of your upgrades and weapons carry over and are useable by all of the characters, which is a bonus.
On the parent front, this is pause friendly if playing solo and something you can put down and come back to later without missing anything Unfortunately the co-op is online only, local co-op would add a lot of value to being able to share this with friends and family.
Overall, Strange Brigade uses a beautiful Egyptian backdrop accompanied by some fun, if not safe, gameplay. It’s missions are fun but essentially becomes more or less a Horde slaying, light puzzle shooter with a wasted story despite its awesome premise. All of the pieces are there for Strange Brigade to be so much more but unfortunately it comes off as just a little strange.
+ Awesome Setting
+ Enemy Variety
+ Unique Style
– Lack of mission variety
– Puzzles don’t feel like they belong
– The narrator
DAYNE for One More Game