Ever wanted to head on an adventure movie-inspired escapade across exotic locales as you hunt down a myriad of Egyptian-inspired monsters on a quest for treasure? Well now you can, with British developers Rebellion finally releasing their third-person co-op focused title Strange Brigade.
Strange Brigade takes you back to the 1930s and sends you on a quest across a mysterious yet beautiful locale that’s full of treasures and antiques that any old adventurer would certainly cherish. However, it also just so happens to be full of monsters that are ruled over by an ancient witch named Seteki, so it’s not the safest of places to uncover. That won’t stop our heroes from exploring though and discovering a host of wondrous sights on their epic journey.
You can take on the role of one of four characters in Strange Brigade who each have their own unique advantages: Frank Fairburne can take a bit more damage, Professor Quincey can build up his amulet powers faster, Gracie Braithwaite is good with explosives and melee combat, whilst Nalangu Rushida is super speedy and sharp. Each character also has an amulet power at their disposal, which gives them a powerful ability that suits their strengths well.
Each character just so happens to look bloody unique too, and are each presented in a charming old-fashioned way – they certainly follow adventurer-like stereotypes and they make for a charismatic and colourful cast. They’re the kind of characters you’d probably expect to see in an Indiana Jones flick or one of those classic adventure movies that are full of clichés, but they fit the vibe of the game perfectly.
The shooting mechanics of Strange Brigade are pretty fun, with a good variety of weapons on offer that not only fit the time period well but also just so happen to be pretty effective at blasting your foes away. You’ve got the likes of shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, flame throwers and grenade launchers to tear through the enemy threat with – of course, given the time period, there’s also a blunderbuss that just so happens to be a fairly satisfying means to take down foes too. Whilst shooting down enemies is fun though, there could be a few moments where it’d feel a little inconsistent. There were times when the aiming felt ever so slightly off with some weapons, whilst others could lack a real feeling of power when shooting up-close. They’re not big problems and it wasn’t obvious throughout, but it was something I noticed here and there.
There isn’t any real means to upgrade characters or weapons either, with players simply collecting coins to open chests in order to get new weapons. It’s a simple system that works, but I feel like Strange Brigade would’ve benefited from allowing you to shape your character’s skillsets in some shape or form – especially with how distinct each one is. It doesn’t make it a bad game by not featuring an upgrade system of sorts, but it does simplify the experience a little.
It’s not all about shooting monsters in Strange Brigade though, with plenty of puzzles to come across as well as a focus on exploration. There’s very basic platforming too, so you can expect to climb around a bit as well as attempt to cleverly avoid traps as you make your way through each level.
One of my favourite aspects of the game is its collectibles, with plenty of different types to find that are often incredibly well-hidden. Strange Brigade’s world is one that not only looks fantastic but is full of hidden little places to seek out, so having the extra incentive of finding collectibles just encouraged me to explore more and more. Of course, the world also just so happens to be full of traps and a lot of the collectibles are hidden behind dangerous and tricky obstacles, but it just adds an unpredictably enjoyable twist to the experience.
Strange Brigade’s campaign takes place over nine different chapters, each of which are full of action-packed set pieces and deadly boss fights. It shouldn’t take players too long to beat it though, with it coming in at around five hours in total – that being said, there are plenty of collectibles to find so completionists may get a lot more out of the experience. Overall, the campaign is pretty decent, with plenty of neatly designed levels and surprisingly strategic moments where you can’t just go running around blasting enemies willy-nilly but actually have to think about your surroundings and how to use them to your advantage. That being said, there were also times where it could be a little guilty of feeling a bit repetitive, though the shorter length ensures that you’ll never actually grow bored of playing it. Plus, you can play it with friends, which makes a heck of a difference to the overall experience…
On the subject of multiplayer, the whole of Strange Brigade and all of its game modes can be tackled with up to three other players. Whilst it can certainly be enjoyed playing solo, playing it with some friends and attempting levels whilst working co-operatively is certainly the best way to experience the game – it’s just so much fun to play and it really shows just how charming the game and its world can be. The set pieces feel more exciting, the puzzles are more challenging (especially if your friends are childish idiots like mine), whilst the sheer hectic nature of the action just feels so much more satisfying. Add to that the fact that you’ve got extra modes to play such as the Horde mode that allows you to take on endless waves of enemies, and it’s easy to see that Strange Brigade’s multiplayer experience is one you’ll be able to lose hours on end with.
I had a lot of fun playing Strange Brigade, with its solid level design and enjoyable focus on both exploration and combat making for a really charming experience. Sure, it has a few flaws such as the occasional janky weapon and a lack of customisation, but that didn’t stop it from providing plenty of hours of enjoyment – especially when blasting away at the many monstrosities and evading traps with friends. If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure that you can enjoy with others, you really ought to give Strange Brigade a look.
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC