It shouldn’t come as some strange coincidence (pun intended) that Strange Brigade spoke to me on so many levels. Growing up, I would watch adventure movies like Romancing the Stone, Raider’s of the Lost Ark, and The Mummy. These movies took me to exotic locations that I couldn’t dream of seeing. The heroes were charming, funny, and relentless in the face of danger. The enemies were evil and in need of vanquishing. And most importantly, the movies were entertaining as hell.
My first glimpse of Strange Brigade came in 2017 at E3. I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia as I played as Professor Archemedies De Quincey. The location brought me fond memories of Brendan Frasier taking on hordes of mummies. And the narrator was absolutely the icing on the cake! Since that day, I hoped that the full game would bring more exciting moments and fun gameplay. And let me tell you – Strange Brigade does not disappoint.
Strange Brigade is an adventure game set in the 1930’s. The Brigade consists of 4 men and women from different walks of life. Their goal? To take out an ancient evil that is yearning to take over the world. Of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure unless you find loads of treasure on your journey! A single player can playthrough Strange Brigade, but it’s truly meant to be played in co-op mode.
Each player can play each of the members of the Brigade. Or, if you wish, you can all play the same character. Each character’s loadout consists of a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and throwable object. Weapons can be switched out if you wish, and there are plenty of weapons to buy with your gold. Plus, workbenches throughout the game will let you switch your gun if needed.
The guns can be upgraded by finding special artifacts. Some of the guns can only hold one tablet, while others can hold up to 4. The artifacts will give bonus damage to headshots, give fire damage, and other useful upgrades. If that isn’t enough, then special chests can be unlocked for a certain amount of gold. These weapons have a limited amount of ammo but are very useful in dealing lots of damage to high powered enemies.
Since we are dealing with the unnatural here, you will obviously need more than your typical weapons. Each member of the Brigade has an amulet that is powered by the souls of the vanquished enemies. When you amulet is filled, you will unleash an area attack that can clear out multiple enemies. Each Brigadier has a starter amulet ability, and others can be unlocked as you play. Make sure you use your amulet power often because the enemies are relentless.
Throughout the game, mummies and a few other enemy types will come at you. Strange Brigade has a lot of variety when it comes to enemy classes, but lacks a variety of enemies. You will face standard mummies, mummies with armor, mummies with spears, magical projectiles, and bombs…do you see where I’m going with this? You will fight a ton of mummies. The bigger bosses are minotaurs that are different shapes and sizes, but that’s about it. There are a few big bosses that are not mummies or minotaurs, but that doesn’t take away my wish for different enemies to fight. The enemy classes are well thought out and are fun to beat, but I would have loved a few different creature types.
Any grand adventure needs lush jungles, ancient temples, and sandy deserts to explore. And Strange Brigade has that in spades. The level design blew me away because of a large amount of content and space to explore. Each map looks and feels very different. It never felt like I was in a small contained area. But rather, I had multiple pathways to explore, rooms to discover, and secrets to find. Yes, some of the game beats are similar (you’ll know when you are about to reach a horde mode situation or when a big boss is coming). But the levels looked and played so damn well.
Each level also features traps and puzzles. The traps are used during horde situations and can be very useful when clearing out enemies. Spinning blades and fire traps fill each level, and they not only take out mummies but hurt you as well if you get caught in them. The puzzles are a really nice bonus to the level design. There are a few puzzles that will open up new areas. But the majority will open rooms with loot and artifacts. Puzzles are fairly simple, but one false move can permanently close access to the treasure. It’s worth finding all the artifacts so you can unlock new amulet powers and earn enough money for guns. Keep in mind that it pays to be greedy in Strange Brigade. You won’t share some of the loot, so if you see a chest, then raid it first!
The layout of the levels are incredible, and they look fantastic. The graphics quality is impressive on the Xbox One X, with lots of detail to be found in the plant life and environments. On top of that, the sound design is also amazing, especially with the inclusion of the narrator. He’s absolutely perfect in Strange Brigade. His puns are top notch and he has a charming and sarcastic tone to his voice. I can’t imagine the game without him.
Strange Brigade has everything I could ask for in a co-op shooter. Smart level design, tons of action, humor, and hordes of enemies to destroy. Despite some minor grievances with enemy design, I can’t recommend it enough. And there is plenty to do in the campaign, horde mode, and score attack mode. The game is fun, plain and simple. If you are looking for solid fun with your friends, then pick up Strange Brigade. You won’t be disappointed.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Humor and plenty of action
Smart level design
A blast to play with friends
Lack of variety in enemies