Strange Brigade
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Strange Brigade is an action-packed third-person shooter that is at its best when played in co-op with some friends. It features a nice assortment of characters, each with unique traits and a large variety of undead enemies to eradicate. The inclusion of traps makes for a fun addition to the experience, and the action also slows down occasionally for some puzzle-solving. While Strange Brigade doesn’t excel in any particular area, it’s still a lot of fun and comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Strange Brigade features lots of action but is best enjoyed with friends in co-op.

Graphics: The visuals look great, but some more variety would have been even better.

Sound: The narrator steals the show, but the music and sound effects are good too

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Strange Brigade

Developer: Rebellion | Publisher: Rebellion | Release Date: 2018 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Third Person Shooter | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

At first glance, there’s not much that a pugilist from Lancashire, a demon-hunting Maasai warrior from Kenya, a British soldier of fortune, and an Oxford scholar with a passion for the ancient past have in common. However, in Strange Brigade by Rebellion, this peculiar foursome makes up the secret division of the same name funded by the Department of Antiquities. The purpose of the Strange Brigade is to find and eliminate any mystical threats to the interests of the British Empire. As luck would have it, the Witch Queen Seteki, who was overthrown and sealed in a nameless tomb by her people 4000 years ago, was recently dug up by an archaeologist. The Queen’s spirit did not wake up in a good mood and it is up to the Strange Brigade to prevent her and her army of the undead from taking over the world.

Rebellion has already shown that they know how to craft a great co-op shooter with the release of Zombie Army Trilogy, and Strange Brigade builds upon this formula. The game is set in the 1930s and fully embraces the adventure serials of the time. The game can be played alone, of course, but it was clearly designed for a team, which is where it really shines. Players must make their way through treacherous ruins while killing the undead, solving some puzzles, and collecting all the treasure they can find. The game shares many similarities with the Zombie Army titles but also has plenty of new tricks up its sleeve.

Strange Brigade is played in the third person, which allows players to see their chosen character in action. However, the differences between the characters are more than just cosmetic, too. For example, Archimedes de Quincey, the former scholar, is the only one who can open Ancient Alcove Doors, while Frank Fairburne is not just tougher but can cause splash damage with his headshots. These four initial characters were later joined by four more DLC characters who are also included in the game’s Deluxe Edition. These included a Texas cowboy, an American aviatrix, a Japanese naval officer, and a Maharani huntress.

Each character in Strange Brigade has access to a primary weapon, a handgun, as well as grenades, and a unique amulet. The amulet is charged by collecting the souls left behind by slain enemies and can then be used to perform a special attack. Some of these special attacks definitely feel more useful than others, but new amulets can be unlocked via skill points that are earned through the discovery of relics. The game features several different period-appropriate weapons for the characters, such as the Audley A40 Exemplar, Gehri-Delgane S1, .303 Huntsman, Eastleigh M1, and more.

There are also a few special weapons, such as crossbows and blunderbusses, that can only be obtained from special chests if you have enough gold. However, these weapons only last until they run out of bullets and cannot be reloaded from ammo caches like other guns. However, you can upgrade your standard weapons with special gems hidden away in treasure chests. Each weapon has limited slots for gems, so you’ll need to pick which combinations of speed, armor-piercing, life-stealing, bullet ricocheting, and other abilities you want.

Your enemies range from the usual mummified corpses to skeletons, giant scorpions, minotaurs, and other undead miscreants. They are a surprisingly resilient lot, so aiming for the head and throwing your explosives, dynamite, Molotov cocktails, or whatever other grenades you have equipped is recommended. However, each level also features a handy assortment of traps that can be used to thin out the hordes somewhat. All of them can be activated with a quick shot, and watching enemies get impaled by floor spikes, burnt to a crisp by flame traps, or decimated by spinning blades is immensely satisfying. Just be careful if you are playing with friends, as they are also susceptible to trap damage. The game even tries to lure you over to the dark side by including a Steam achievement for killing a team member with a trap! Don’t worry, though; you can quickly revive friends by freeing them from the nearby sarcophagus, where they end up after death.

In addition to shooting hordes of enemies Strange Brigade also slows down occasionally for a spot of puzzling solving and item collecting. Although the levels are pretty linear, you will notice a couple of paths branching off towards hidden areas. These require you to solve a quick puzzle before you can plunder the riches that they hide. Generally, the puzzles only require you to pay attention to your surroundings to find whatever combination is needed to open a door. Still, you’ll also run into memory match and pipe-dream style puzzles occasionally.

What is more puzzling is how the game shares things between players. Coins are required to buy new weapons or unlock certain things, but gold is not shared between players, which means tempers can flare if you end up with a greedy person on your team. On the other hand, The relics, hidden cat statues, and reading material that can be found are shared between players. Then, strangely enough, the hidden canopic jars dotted around the levels are not shared, and whoever finds them will have to point them out to other players. The inclusion of all these collectibles does give the game some replay value and with three difficulty settings, they make for a good excuse to play through the campaign again on a more challenging setting.

The season pass for Strange Brigade adds three campaign levels to the game, and these are just as good as the ones in the primary campaign. The levels in Strange Brigade are quite beautiful, and each is packed with a ton of detail, especially when using the highest visual settings. The adventure will take you through hidden valleys, dig sites, abandoned tunnels, ancient shrines, remote mountain villages, and more before a showdown in a very unique location. While all these levels look great, they have a bit of sameness, which is unfortunate. This is especially noticeable when you reach the pirate section. Here, the game takes a break from all the Egyptian stuff for some Pirates of The Caribbean-inspired action, which looks and feels very different from the rest of the levels. It also shows what would have been possible with a bit more variety.

The game allows players to choose between DirectX12 and Vulcan for the visuals, which is a nice touch, and the details for everything from the textures to the shadows and reflections can be adjusted. Players can also turn on or off features like motion blur, ambient occlusion, tessellation, and obscurance fields to balance visuals and framerate. From a technical standpoint, we did not encounter any bugs in the game, and everything, including the online co-op, ran without a hitch. Rebellion has done a great job with the audio in Strange Brigade, as the music matches the setting and pulp serial feel of the game. Characters also have their own quips, but the very British narrator, with his penchant for alliteration, steals the show. He has a quip for virtually everything the Strange Brigade does, as well as an irrational hatred of cats that frequently had us laughing out loud.

The controls in Strange Brigade will be pretty straightforward, although, to anyone who has ever played a third-person shooter, the game has a few quirks. Firstly, this game has no way to hip fire, so you have to aim down your sights before you can shoot. Thankfully, an on-screen indicator will alert you to enemies creeping up on you while you are aiming. Secondly, there’s no run button, so you must hold down one of the movement keys until your character starts running. More alarming is the fact that the “throw grenade” button is tied to the “Shift” key, which most players associate with running. We had to remap this key to prevent us from accidentally lobbing a grenade while trying to sprint away from enemies. Finally, players can perform a dodge roll with a quick tap of the spacebar, which is handy for evading enemies.

Overall, Strange Brigade is a great game, but to get the most out of it, you really need to team up with some friends for the co-op action. There’s still fun to be had in single-player, but it can’t really compare to the co-op, provided you play with people who cooperate instead of grabbing all the gold and health potions. Even after completing the campaign, the “Horde” and “Score Attack” modes still provide additional fun. We also recommend getting the game’s Deluxe Edition, as the additional DLC maps are worth it. There’s nothing revolutionary about the game, but it does provide plenty of action-packed fun.

System Requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7, 64-bit Windows 10
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G or Intel CPU Core i3-2100
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 7870 (2GB) or NVIDIA GeForce 750 Ti (2GB)
  • Storage: 35 GB available space
  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7, 64-bit Windows 10
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or Intel CPU Core i7-3770
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX570 or Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 1070
  • Storage: 35 GB available space

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1 Comment

  1. bionoid April 25, 2020
    Reply

    That was smashingly good fun, would gun down hordes of horrific horrors with you all again anytime.

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