Man, what do I even say about Strange Brigade. Or more accurately, where do I even start? I. Love. This. Game. I do. And I'm not a fan of the genre, really.
Strange Brigade is a third person shooter with lots of action, puzzle solving, and plenty of mummies and monsters to blast into pieces. Honestly, it could get lost in the shuffle if not for the flavor, the aesthetics, the love that went into this piece.
Let's start with the aesthetics. I mean, look at that picture up there. You're part of the Strange Brigade, a group of adventurers who go on expeditions for King and Crown to recover priceless artifacts and occasionally save the world from undead, occult baddies. From the narrator's just-shy-of-annoying jokes (that's a compliment) to the 1930s dime novel settings (like their airship filled with trinkets that Lara Croft would envy) the settings and feel are just fantastic. Immersive. Fun!
It's your standard third-person shooter affair, at it's heart, giving you choices of a few different main weapons, side arms, explosives, and gem powers. Along with this you can choose from any of the four members of the Brigade, such as the demon hunter, the factory lass, the professor, or the soldier. They're all enjoyable characters with neat perks, but my favorite is the Lancashire Lass Gracie Braithwaite. She's better at melee combat and her explosives recharge faster, which fits my style. Plus, she has the best dialogue.
The game is aimed at multiplayer, but has a rich and fun single player campaign that in no way leaves you feeling left out. There are reminders throughout the game that you could have a friend with you, and certainly some bosses would be all the easier for it, but at no point was I ever made to feel like I was missing out for playing offline.
There are tons of collectibles throughout the game, which means you'll be replaying the levels over and over to find them all and earn more cash to upgrade your weapons. Normally, I'd find this annoying, but I actually looked forward to replaying levels with different characters and trying different strategies.
At no point does the game ever take itself too seriously. It's like The Mummy (the good Brendan Frasier one) but cheesier. The narrator will question who keeps lighting all the candles in the crypts and pointing out that health potions probably taste bad. Most amusingly, there are cat statues you need to shoot to collect, and the narrator has no end of anti-cat quips ("I had a cat once. ONCE!" "Pity it was just a statue.")
The story is engaging and the locations are beautiful. From most locations on the map you'll be able to see spots you'll be exploring later. If you can snipe zombies from there, the game encourages it! Take them out the easy way whenever possible. Use explosive barrels, trap spikes, spinning blades, fire, and other tools at your disposal.
This isn't all to say the game is perfect. It has faults. Some of the bosses are a tad overpowered and figuring out what to do to fight them sometimes gets frustrating. Some of the hidden cats only appear if you stand in JUST the right spot, meaning it's easy to miss them if you don't know precisely where they are. Despite that, the game is still charming. More importantly, it's fun!
I played it solo, but I think I would have a ball playing it co-op. It almost makes me want to spring for Xbox live. Almost. In the end, I gave it a very high score and you should head over to Geek Night to see the official review I gave it there.
Until next time, Brigade. Be excellent to each other.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.