Strange Brigade @ EGX 2017

After the excellent Sniper Elite 4 earlier this year, I was really hyped to play Rebellion’s latest project at EGX this year. Following the entertaining Zombie Army Trilogy, Strange Brigade is a new four-player co-op game that succeeds as a fun, social experience. The tone mimics 30’s adventure serials, keeping things chipper and cheerful as you blast away mummies and monsters.

• Developer: Rebellion
• Publisher: Rebellion
• Previewed on: PlayStation 4
• Also Available On: Xbox One, PC
• Release Date: TBC 2018

The demo began with a selection of four characters; a warrior, soldier, engineer or scholar. Each character has abilities and perks that will help your team as you progress through waves of enemies and puzzles, although I didn’t get to play as multiple characters so I cannot speak to all of these. However, I chose the warrior in the end; a fierce looking woman with the ability to trigger an area-of-effect attack once a recharging meter is filled.

Strange Brigade’s tongue-in-cheek commentary suits the ridiculous premise and helps to keep things light-hearted. The inventive environmental traps that you can trigger, like spinning blades, floor spikes and fire pits, also feed into the fun atmosphere you get when playing. This meant that despite playing with strangers at the booth, we were all still laughing and shouting at the appropriate times as we played, which bodes well for the game’s longevity.

The game also has a sense of urgency, naturally caused by the hordes of monsters you need to take on. The uncomplicated game-play means that it never gets in the way, allowing you to quickly strategise. As I played, I found myself trying to lure groups of enemies nearer to traps in the area. Pairing off as two teams of four to complete different objectives also felt natural and was done without outward comment on our part, leading us to the first boss encounter.

The enemy design in the game is incredible, with each type instantly recognisable and the correct tactic for taking one on immediately obvious. The boss, for instance, was huge and powerful-looking so up close combat was a no-no. However, the same spinning top traps I was using before were still handy in this area. In this case, I held off at a distance and fired continuously.

Once we started to solve puzzles, as a team, without having to actually speak to one another directly, I knew this game was doing things the right way. Unlocking doors by finding glyphs was an obvious task that was easily understandable by everyone on the team so we just got on with it. After recently trying to complete Destiny 2’s raid, it felt good to be able to progress through a game without needing spread sheets!

Each new area had another element to overcome, either an environmental puzzle or enemy type to defeat. As we progressed, more mini-bosses were triggered and fighting as a team felt fulfilling throughout. I will be interested to see how well this works in single-player when the game releases. Based on my time with the game, it feels like playing as a group is the best way to experience the game.

There was a timer for our demo and we failed to achieve the developer time that would have garnered us a prize. Immediately I was re-thinking our game and spotting areas we could have done more quickly. That, to me, is the sign that a game is getting its hooks into me so next year’s release date can’t come soon enough.

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