Name: Strange Brigade
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Rebellion Developments
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 & PlayStation 4 Pro
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
Written by Joakim Ulvær and Kim Hansen
Rebellion Developments mostly known in recent times for the Sniper Elite series and the spin-off Zombie Army Trilogy. They have now given us a new co-op shooter, where you can cooperate with up to three other players. Strange Brigade may have many similarities with the Zombie Army Trilogy, but with many new features and somewhat new settings. Kim and I have kicked ass, and taking names, fought some of the worst monsters that this game unleashed.
We’re in the 1930’s Egypt, Seteki the Witch Queen has risen once again to take over the world. Who is brave enough to stop Seteki and her vicious army of mummified monstrosities? The Strange Brigade!
Overall, the main campaign brings us to nine different locations in Egypt. And that is pretty much what I manage to remember from the story. There were tons of funny “lines/comments” from the narrator. But the main plot of the game was easily forgotten while we discovered the mysteries around Seteki. Our main heroes had a few “quick lines” during the cutscenes and during combat, but we didn’t find it that interesting or relative. But the main event and what truly held the story interesting and funny was the narrator. Good written script for the voice actor behind the narrator truly saved the score on this subject.
The gameplay value in Strange Brigade is strong, but more on that below. For now I want to talk to you about the graphics. If you have played the previous titles such as Zombie Army Trilogy, you will find the character design to be pretty similar. Facial animations aren’t something to brag about, but the overall character design is excellent and well detailed. You can, for sure, see what “stereotype” hero they’re trying to image. Strange Brigade struggles a bit to create tons of different objects, enemies, etc. But that is the challenge with a game with this amount of content.
The environmental graphics might be the strongest part within the graphics, besides the level design. We truly had the sense of being in an exotic jungle filled with mysteries and dark secrets to uncover. Even though the game runs “linear” (you move from point A to point B “obviously”, no free roaming/open world) we felt like we had a few alternate paths hidden from our main course. That part is a challenge when you play a linear game. But there is one thing that really annoyed me the entire playthrough, regardless what type of mode we played through, we even had this struggle within the user interface and menus; the text. The text in this game is SMALL, I know I have bad vision, hence the purpose of using glasses. But the text is so small, that I actually had to move my lazy ass from the couch, move myself towards my 60-inch TV to read the text (I was literally sitting two meters away from the TV).
The sound design is brilliant and precise, while in gunplay, different type of scenarios, music themes and so on. Even the small detail of a *pling* when hitting that headshot was a nice touch.
Strange Brigade is a heavily focused co-op shooter, where up to four players can play together. Killing hordes of monsters, and solving puzzles together. At the launch there are five different characters to choose from, all with their own traits and special attacks. Special attacks come in the form of amulets, that you collect spirit orbs from monsters to unleash devastating attacks. Some for defense and some for offense, each character has four amulets to choose from that are unique to that character. These come in really handy when you are surrounded in enemies, in need for some extra punch to survive or just to quickly thin out the crowd. You also scavenge the maps for loot and collectables, to get cash for upgrades to your weapons and equipment. You can also find Gems that you can put on your guns for an extra boost, things like freeze bullets, electric bullets or bullets to make your gun fire faster rounds. You can only use the gem once on each gun, if you want to change gems the old one will be destroyed. So when playing with others, gems can be hard to come by. Since only the one that finds them keeps them, and if you never get the chance to open chests you will never get them.
As mentioned there is also some puzzles scattered around the maps, and if you manage to complete them it will often result in some good loot. There is some variation in difficulty and how they are set up. Some you will have to find hidden symbols, to know in which order you have to press (shoot) the right symbol in correct order. There is also a connect the snake puzzles, and one that kinda reminds you of a rubik’s cube. This one was the most difficult since it was hard to find the logic in how to solve it, especially if more than one person tried to solve it. But the puzzles were a fresh breath of air, after a lot of shooting and surviving. Since my co-op buddy and I were obsessed with collecting everything, we spent a lot of extra time just to make sure we solved all the puzzles and found all the collectibles and relics. There are also two additional modes to play with.
This function in the same way like Zombie Mode in Call of Duty, you defeat waves of different monsters. You get money for killing them, and use that to buy weapons and to unlock doors. You will have to cooperate to survive as many rounds as you possible can, using traps and specials weapons.
This works like classic arcade mode, with the goal being the one with the highest score wins. Special weapons are free to use, and the better and more you kill the higher score you get. The combo meter will be your best friend, since the score gets multiplied and you will have to be quick not to lose it. It also works as a boss mode, since there often will show up many monsters that were used in the story as bosses.
To sum it up:
Story Mode was a fun and exciting experience, working together with my buddy collecting, solving puzzles and kill massive crowds of enemies. The story was easy to understand, and I think the amount of story that was being told matches the gameplay. When playing online it could be an annoyance if you had to be watching tons of cutscenes. The levels didn’t feel too short, it was the perfect amount.
Horde Mode and Score Attack felt familiar, but is fitting to the game. It’s two great modes to play if you feel a bit done with the campaign.
Weapons feel great and it’s fun to experiment with gems and amulets, and thank God for the puzzles. It was a fresh breath playing co-op multiplayer where you have to cooperate to solve them. Unfortunately, some of them got a bit repetitive in the end, so with more variation in the puzzles it would be perfect.
Strange Brigade controls really well, it’s precise and quick and are as good as they can be in a shooter. It is easy to keep track on all the buttons and what they do, the controls are quick and precise.. But there were some moments that I wished this game had emotes, to use to give quick messages to those you play with.
The campaign took us about 12-15 hours to complete, maybe more if we had spent more time on the collecting part. You can replay every level, changing the difficulty and use weapons you have unlocked earlier. And if you missed any of the puzzles or collectables, you can go back and play again to find the rest. So in itself the campaign got a lot of replay value, since you can play with whom you want, wherever you want. When you are done with the campaign, you have two more modes with a huge number of levels and content. So Strange Brigade can give many hours with fun, might be a bit unfair if never played before and are joining other seasoned players. But that’s just how games can be at times.
Replay Value 9
Strange Brigade gave us many hours of fun and exciting gameplay, and truly delivers a good co-op experience. It’s flaws faded in comparison to what it did right and gets praised by us. If you are looking for a game to play alone, then you are out of luck. Since all the fun lays in playing it with others, and it will quickly be difficult alone. But if what you are searching for is a game, you can spend countless hours with others, then we can highly recommend this game.
User Review( votes)
- Funny narrator
- Simple but fun gameplay
- Replay Value
- No “grinding” nor extremely long progression to upgrade weapons/get new equipment
- Forgettable story
- Text size in the user interface, menus and during gameplay (PS4)
- “Not a solo game”