Strange Brigade is a brand new PS4, Xbox One and PC shooter from Sniper Elite studio Rebellion.
Swapping the WW2 setting for something far more fantastical, Strange Brigade sees a band of adventurers explore ancient tombs, sunken shipwrecks and archeological dig sites in search of the evil sorceress Seteki.
Left 4 Dead meets The Mummy, players battle hordes of undead soldiers, mythical monsters and colossal creepy-crawlies in third-person action for 1-4 people.
With the Strange Brigade release date upon us, here’s what we think of Rebellion’s rip-roaring new third-person shooter.
As simple and uncomplicated as it gets, Strange Brigade gives you a couple of guns, bags of ammo and a ton of monsters for target practice.
Beyond individual special attacks and weapons that can be imbued with elemental powers, there’s nothing from a gameplay perspective that you won’t have seen before.
This isn’t a criticism, however, because Strange Brigade’s lack of complexity is actually part of its appeal, especially in an era where games are considered a service and microtransactions a must.
There’s something oddly refreshing about playing a game as straightforward and instantly gratifying as Strange Brigade, which lets you switch off and take aim, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Strange Brigade on PS4, Xbox One and PC
That’s not to say that Strange Brigade is solely about the shooting, and inquisitive players will be rewarded by veering off the beaten path.
Strange Brigade’s expansive levels are littered with hidden paths and secret rooms, many of which can only be accessed by solving moderately taxing brain teasers.
Other rooms can only be accessed by discovering and shooting hidden artefacts scattered through levels, while boss battles are oftentimes preceded by elaborate puzzles involving light beams, floor switches and concealed symbols.
Hunting for secrets and solving puzzles effectively breaks up the action, although it can be frustrating when you’re keen to move forward while your teammate is off exploring.
Strange Brigade on PS4, Xbox One and PC
But Strange Brigade’s true appeal lies within its pulpy presentation.
Paying homage to classic adventure serials and pulp fiction magazines, Strange Brigade has a clear identity and very distinct style.
Grainy black and white movies precede each level, amusing narration accompanies your every action, and there’s more alliteration than you can shake a strapping splintered stick at.
Sadly, however, while individual levels are rich, vibrant and full of personality, the same can’t be said for the cast of characters.
Strange Brigade review for PS4 and Xbox One
It’s surprising given that the diversity of Strange Brigade’s cast, which consists of a female Maasai warrior from Kenya, an Oxford educated scholar and a marksman related to the Sniper Elite protagonist.
Northern lass Gracie Braithwaite is the pick of the bunch, coming out with some corking one-liners delivered in a thick Lancashire accent.
Unfortunately, despite the obvious aesthetic differences, there’s little reason to choose one character over another. None has any particular strength or weakness and you can freely select your weapons from the start, so you’re not tied to one specific playstyle.
Special moves are unique to each character, but they’re not different enough to warrant seprate playthroughs.
It’s something that will limit your desire to replay the campaign in single-player, although that’s where Horde and Score Attack comes in.
Horde mode is a particularly good fit, limiting weapons, ammo and traps in such a way that you have to plan further ahead and really together work as a team.
Score Attack – which tasks players with stringing together kills as speedily and stylishly as possible – is the lesser of the two bonus modes, relying on a full quota of players to enhance the competitiveness.
Indeed, Strange Brigade’s uncomplicated action and throwaway narrative lends itself to drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, which is where the game really excels.
Strange Brigade review
Strange Brigade verdict…
In an era of microtransactions, loot boxes, pay-to-win and “games as a service”, Strange Brigade feels refreshingly uncomplicated.
Rebellion’s new release won’t win any awards for innovation and doesn’t move the genre forward, but then it really doesn’t need to.
Charming, amusing and consistently entertaining, Strange Brigade is a throwback to a simpler time when games were all about having fun.