The time has come for us to take on the world with the Strange Brigade. Not only the name of the organization we will be playing a part of but also the latest title to come from Rebellion in the way of a Co-Op third-person shooter. It has had a rather fast turnaround time from announcement to launch and that has cast some weirdness on Strange Brigade since. At least from some of the gaming community. Thankfully, I have been able to sit down and give the game a solid play to see if it lived up to my expectations as well as yours. Here is our review of the game that is out as of right meow.
The year is 1930 and archaeologist Edgar Harbin has come across a new tomb in the northern part of Africa. You know, around the Egypt area. It looks like something that has been lost to time but truly holds the spirit of a horrible queen named Seteki. Wouldn't you know it, this tomb also happened to house her imprisoned soul and the Harbin has let it loose. Now it is up to our adventurous adventurers to head out as part of a secret service from the British government to put an end to it all. Also to find any and all kinds of treasure along the way. No point in leaving it all behind if the work has already been done.
When I first played Strange Brigade as part of a demo at E3, I was shown that there was a vast world to explore and it should require multiple plays to a level to find all of the hidden out coves and treasures within. It felt that way as it looked like part of the world would be locked off based on the paths selected. This did not seem to make it into the final version of Strange Brigade. It seems like a weird thing to not like, but given how I play games I explore everything when it looks like I will not be able to make it back to a section. That is when I found that it was never the case and I was able to see everything in one walkthrough. This could just be how I play my games, but I never found a real reason to go back and replay as I was able to find things fairly easily in the world. It is a weird thing to be upset about in the game, but it did lead to me wondering if I needed to play the campaign again at all. At least for my sake.
Again this one is going to seem a little weird to have an issue with, but it also felt like the aiming and shooting was a bit off for Strange Brigade and even a veteran video game shooter would find issue with this. Many times I found enemies in my sights and the trigger pulled but nothing happened to them. Sometimes it was up close and sometimes it was at a far distance. It felt like it was more on the game's side of thing than anything on mine. I am not sure how that would be beside hitboxes being off, but it persisted in Strange Brigade and led to a lot of running and diving to set up a new shot. This was even the case when aim assist was turned on. Something that did not seem to do a single thing even though. I would give it all a pass if it was something on my side of the screen, but it persisted even when the game was supposed to be helping out. Strange things indeed…
Lastly, Strange Brigade has all kinds of hidden puzzles and traps mixed about the game. This is something that has been a huge selling point from day one from Rebellion. I was excited to see them in there for the first time as they always seemed glossed over for time reasons in the demos and videos. Once I was able to actually confront them, I think I know why. They did not seem to be much of a challenge at all. At least not to me. Sure, they offered up a bit of a distraction to keep me engaged in other ways with the Strange Brigade, but they did not seem to do more than fill the world. Maybe if it was explained as they were set up and designed by a more primitive being I could have let it slide, but it was part of the gameplay mechanics and system so I am sure this was not the intended case.
I am going to start off by saying that Rebellion nailed the feel of the Pulp Comic style of story and adventure here with Strange Brigade. I had heard people in the past talk about how it felt like a basic gimmick and would not add anything to the overall game. I can say that they are completely wrong. From the way the story was told to the little quips of the narrator, they nailed how I always envision stories like this to play out and feel. I was quickly whisked back to the glory days of franchises like Indian Jones as everything unfolded. They used this style in one of the best ways any of us could have hoped for and it only looks to get better with the plans to expand the game further; as we already know is coming. My only fear for it is that they nailed it too well that others will try to poorly copy it and no one wants to see that happen.
While I did find issue with the replay value of the mission areas in Strange Brigade, I did find the level layouts to be thought out and laid out rather well. They did give the feeling of not being able to return to a location or that triggering one thing would cause something to close off elsewhere. They brought that sense of wonder and exploration into the game that focused just on that so it all played well together. It is a hard task to do and the team did it well even though I did find issue with it in one way. It was hard to expect what was truly around the corner and where you would truly end up until you took the steps. Due to this, I would say Strange Brigade would be worth the price of admission just to explore the world and environments that they put together for us.
One last thing, even with the faults I found in Strange Brigade, that did not take away from how fun the game is at the end of the day. Playing solo or with a Co-Op team, the game always seemed to be fun and never just a grind. That is another thing I find difficult to find done well in video games and it was done here. I started playing my way through Strange Brigade with a group of colleagues, but quickly found that I wanted to keep going, even on my own, once that was no longer an option. It scaled and felt at the same level of fun no matter how I was playing it and that is becoming rarer in video games as of late. That is why I am calling it out specifically here under the "Loved" section as it made me love the game that much more.
Strange Brigade does have some faults, most of which I found could be patched out, but that does not stop me from recommending the game to you here. It set out to do something and it did it well. All to the point to where I want to go back and keep playing and not because of any other obligation. I would have liked to see a few tougher puzzles mixed in or a true reason to need to replay levels, but even with one solid play through Strange Brigade caught my eye and kept it locked in. I know it will only get better from here with all of the updates already announced for the game. I would say go pick it up and join me and the Brigade right meow.
I give Strange Brigade 9 Ancient Relics on the Ancient Relic scale.
Strange Brigade — Launch Trailer