After giving us several years of Sniper Elite, Rebellion expands its deck with Strange Brigade, an addictive cooperative shooter that invites us to form a team and stand up to the infinite monstrosities and supernatural forces of Seteki, the Witch Queen.
Fun without too many complications: Strange Brigade is a simple and direct shooter, of those that lend themselves to invite some friends and get to play immediately. There are no levels in between, nor too many obstacles to progress and unlock new maps and ways to play. What’s new about Rebellion is completely in action, and the truth is that at that level it works very, very well.
We know that comparisons are often odious, but to give you an idea of the type of game that is we would say that it is closer to Left 4 Dead 2 than to Killing Floor 2 or Warhammer: Vermintide II. But the idea of all of them is basically the same: survive countless hordes of enemies, using weapons, traps, and powers. The parents of Sniper Elite follow the same path with complete ease as if they had worked in this type of game for years. And as a master chef, he also experiments with new ingredients: puzzles, special weapons or even the typical “treasure goblin”. All with good results.
And what kind of content do we have in the Strange Brigade? The appetizer is a campaign of nine missions where we interpret the Strange Brigade that gives a name to the game: a small group of adventurers and investigators willing to take Seteki, the Witch Queen, back to the dark tomb from which it came out. Although it does not lack replayability, the highlight is undoubtedly the horde mode and a fun time trial component that will most likely keep you stuck to the screen for a good few hours. If it does not seem enough, do not worry: its managers have already anticipated that they will update the game with free content in a monthly key, in addition to the season pass.
Crusade against horrors
Technically, you could install the game and start playing directly by the horde mode, but you know how it goes: normally, the starting point is the campaign. And at this point, I have mixed feelings. Everything about the gameplay seems very solid, well worked and in some aspects even outstanding; but to the narrative, I do not even find sense. Moreover, it seems that Rebellion does not take it very seriously and has no problems in an encasquetarnos joke that makes you think if you really wanted to make a story from the beginning.
The fact is that each mission begins in grainy and black and white kinematics to get us into the heart of the matter, which is generally to learn more about Seteki before hunting him down. Then, the Strange Brigade unfolds in the jungle, temple or pyramid to complete the mission. There is an incredibly annoying narrator who accompanies us at all times, putting bad jokes with a shoehorn and commenting on our progress. Even those as foolish as getting an unlockable.
Everything else is frankly well designed and better executed: during the mission, the action is interrupted only with brief cinematic and some other joke, all of the good taste, fortunately, where we are presented with new enemies. We will not find any markedly open map, but all offer us the possibility to deviate a bit to find secrets, unlockables or potions, ammunition, and money. Let me take a moment to underline how well you do here, okay? Because at this point it shines like few others.
It is a simple and direct shooter, of those that lend themselves to invite friends and get to play immediately
When you play, say, Uncharted 4 or Rise of the Tomb Raider, you expect to find totally encrypted puzzles here and there. The action stops, you start to think, you solve the problem and the same thing follows a section of shots or platforms. Strange Brigade does this in a similar way, but with a twist: the puzzles are much more dynamic and allow the player to solve them in their own way. How is that? For example, adding a component of randomness (the puzzle is the same, but the resolution varies each time you enter the mission), giving you the opportunity to organize with your friends to solve it or maintain the shootings during the resolution of the problem.
Let’s go with something more illustrative. In the first mission, there is a puzzle in a door (A) with three engravings, which you have to shoot in a very specific order, but that order is drawn randomly after a more distant door (B). You can not shoot from B to A, so you must memorize the code, take a picture of it or write it down on a piece of paper to play it on the first door. If you are playing with a friend, he may go telling you the code directly, or play a joke on you by telling you wrong. Almost all the puzzles in this game give us a small margin of freedom to solve our own way, and they are often incredibly funny. Even more so when you’re dealing with monsters at the same time you solve them.
This type of emerging and free gameplay is present throughout the game, encouraging us to be creative with the traps, talk to our friends and combine the destructive power of our entire arsenal. Of course, you can play the campaign or the other solo modes, but you will not take advantage of everything that Strange Brigade has to offer until you join one or more friends to play it. It is the kind of game that lends itself to challenging those who take it seriously and make those who do not laugh, and gives the best of it when you participate with people willing to play the way you do it. As we say, it’s not that everything can be taken as a joke, far from it.
Everything about the gameplay seems very solid
The minotaurs do not charge front, but zigzag. Many enemies wear armor. Even a small zombie can hurt you with a scratch if you’re not careful. Some have severed parts, others are slippery and carry treasures and some very occasionally can carry a potion in their hand that they drop when they die. Strange Brigade does not have character levels or a complex progression, but gameplay deep enough to learn and overcome as you invest hours in it. We would have loved to see some sections of plataformeo here and there, perhaps a greater variety of weapons and tools, a more epic story or a component of personalization more interesting to consider it round.
That we say is very general, but we can go into more detail if we talk about the horde or the time trial. In both cases, we sacrifice the narrative, the puzzles and the cinematics of the campaign for even more direct action if possible. In the horde mode, the ammunition and the potions are becoming increasingly scarce, and the game forces us to manage our resources with droppers: do you prefer to improve your weapons or unlock a building full of resources? The key, of course, is to coordinate with our partners and have some special weapon to turn the tortilla over if necessary.
The time trial mode is refreshing and fun, but only for a while. It offers us almost unlimited resources: energy for the talisman, traps, explosives, special weapons … practically everything you want. But if you want to get the highest scores, you will have to perfect your reflexes to the maximum, and understand instantly how to get the most out of each trap. Sometimes, you will have to exploit a container, burn a vine, release a stone, fall on a pedestal … and so on. It’s fun, but it also tires quickly and there are no rewards that motivate you to squeeze the best scores.
Regarding the technical section is worthy of praise, for its part: the scenarios are not very large or open (as noted above) but they are beautiful and varied. We would have loved to have a soundtrack at least of Indiana Jones style to accompany the campaign in its most relaxed moments, but in this sense, it is a very conformist title, which does the homework and little else. If you play on a computer, you will be glad to know that it is a fairly well-optimized game and that a mid-range graphics card will help you maintain the rate of images per second even at times when the number of enemies on the screen seems prohibitive.
Strange Brigade, the new IP of Rebellion, is a pleasant surprise for fans of cooperative shooters: it does not invent the wheel, of course; but it is able to condense the action, rhythm, and fantasy of temples and mythological beasts in a compact and hilarious package. We would have liked to see a more careful campaign, a slightly more varied action, and some more audiovisual personality to find a mandatory title in its genre.
- Simple, direct and fun like few others. He has a great sense of action
- The puzzles are varied, entertain and do not interrupt the rhythm
- It has few modes, but they are all quite replayable
- A more careful narrative would have suited the campaign
- He lacks bosses and more varied and interesting sections
- With only three modes and without clear objectives, you can be repetitive