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Strange Brigade Review

Edited by: Chiara Burns

A team of (up to) 4 explorers with different skills and specializations embarks on the trip of a lifetime in Egypt – complete with ancient evils trapped in ruins, nameless walking corpses and an over-sized scorpion or ten.

The Lay of the Land

The Strange Brigade as the team of four explorers is called, sets out to investigate after another explorer. Nalangu Rushida, a demon hunter; Gracie Braithwaite, a mechanic; Professor Archimedes de Quincy, an explorer and Frank Fairburne, a soldier, discover that Seteki, an ancient witch has risen from her grave to wreak havoc on the world.

The premise of this title is relatively simple, and it’s the spectacular environments and clever secrets hidden around the world that really give it its appeal. Well, that and the multiplayer aspect. In order to solve the relatively simple puzzles around the map, players have to work together to advance. That isn’t to say that you can’t advance in solo mode – the game adjusts accordingly.

And now, the weather…

Easily one of the best aspects of the game is the narrator that comments throughout the game and during video sequences. Rebellion did a fantastic job of giving us exactly what we’d expect from a game set in the 1930s – clever puns, an abundance of alliterations and more than a dash of sarcasm.

Where in most games the narrator is simply a tool used for exposition and explanations at convenient moments, the Strange Brigade’s narrator really contributes something to the Strange Brigade! The same can be said for most of the soundtrack and music, really. The title is very atmospheric, with suspenseful music as you face off against monsters, right through to the sounds of the undead lurching towards our heroes. This, combined with the huge amount of detail that has been put into just about everything, really makes it a rewarding experience to play.

Shootin’ from the hip

Gun-play in the Strange Brigade is relatively straight-forward, pun intended. The player selects from several different weapons that can be upgraded and improved throughout the game. At certain points, players find loot chests that drop unique experimental weapons – where normal weapons can be reloaded and ammo can be refilled, these weapons disappear once you have emptied the magazine.

As for the actual shooting – the difficulty level isn’t very high at all, but Rebellion still managed to make head-shots feel satisfying. The different characters each have different weapon options of course, as well as their own animations – while playing, the characters do feel distinctly different rather than just reskins of the same model. So, even if you play alone, there is plenty of replay value  to be had.

The weapons differ as well, in damage, accuracy, and range. Players can customize them however, to suit their own play-styles, making the Strange Brigade quite versatile. Additional weapons can be unlocked, and each of the characters also has magical powers, activated via different amulets.

Needless to say, the Strange Brigade isn’t a realistic experience – that is to say, it doesn’t take itself too seriously either, but it is a solid adventure that delivers exactly what it promises: Beautiful environments, clever conversations, Egyptian mummies and an ancient evil that needs to be done away with.

Hoarders at work

A surprisingly big part of the game is finding relics and collectibles. The first kind the player encounters is a cat statue – these are periodically strewn throughout the maps and announced via a meow that lets the player know they need to look for one.

Other collectible relics include genuine Egyptian artifacts, crafted with an astonishing amount of detail. Finding these really does feel like an accomplishment, and, especially when playing with friends, hoarding these items can be more fun than dispatching creepy crawlies or moaning mummies.

Levels of awesome

As mentioned, the amount of detail put into the game is spectacular. The different areas that you progress through all feel distinct, but even dark caves with limited visibility are filled with interesting sights as well as distinct and unique enemies. Around the relatively straightforward areas, there are hidden areas behind trick walls, vines and secret alcoves. One of the four adventurers has a talent for finding these hidden areas and the loot within them.

Where in many games collecting things can feel like an annoyance or something to be done when there is nothing else left, the challenge in the Strange Brigade is quite real, and it’s one of the most fun aspects of this title. It definitely fits with the theme, unearthing relics, adventuring into the wilderness, it’s really not the chore or headache that it can be in other games from the same genre.

Overall, the areas that the players explore are unique, distinctive, but well-connected and coherent. The only small minus is that players can’t generally climb or free-run, not even sprint. Whereas in titles like Assassin’s Creed it’s possible to explore ruins and buildings from all angles and sides, players in this title are tragically ground-bound, and can’t climb anywhere with the exception of the odd designated ledge.

7

The Verdict: Great

The spectacular narrator and solid sound-work make Strange Brigade immersive and quite different from similar titles. Rebellion’s new co-op shooter is overall solid and definitely enjoyable, although the fun doesn’t always come from what you may expect – as we’ve mentioned, collecting rare figurines and even Hathor’s Ladle (yes, that’s an artefact!) can be more fun than shooting hordes of the dead. The game is definitely a league apart from similar titles and with its unique and distinctive 1930s feel, it may not be for everyone, but it can be fun for anyone!

Melanie Hawthorne
Written by
September 05, 2018
Published in Action

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Mel is a London-based copywriter that has been writing about video games for a few years now. After growing up in Vienna, Austria she followed her dreams and moved to London. Said dreams took her through a few different jobs (which included working as a web developer, shopkeeper and translator) before she settled on what she really wanted to do – periodically anger video game fans by expressing her opinions on games through various online publications. When she’s not writing about video games, she’s probably playing them... or walking her dog in a park. Since that depends largely on the English weather, Mel has plenty of time to indulge in her favourite games. These include but are not limited to Ark: Survival Evolved, Skyrim, GTA V, and oddly enough, Amnesia: Memories. She loves Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. She thinks Star Trek is way better than Star Wars and isn’t afraid to admit it – Live long and prosper!

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