Borrowing heavily from the 1930s adventure serials, Strange Brigade is a four-player cooperative shooter that is best described as Left 4 Dead meets The Mummy. And I mean the light-hearted Brendan Fraser version, not that Tom Cruise rubbish. The game puts you in control of a member of a secret team of adventurers who work for the British government, investigating paranormal activity around the world.
Its tongue-in-cheek nature shines through in nearly every aspect, but is perhaps best showcased by the terribly English narrator who calls the action in real-time, though often with a twinge of hyperbole and some very distinct British-isms. “It’s challenging to capture something that will [work] not just in the United Kingdom, but in other parts of the world too,” said Zoltan Fejes, Lead Producer of Strange Brigade, “but we’re fortunate to have a great writer on board.”
Players can choose from one of four characters, each with their own special abilities. I chose Professor Archimedes De Quincy, an Oxford scholar and rifleman. Also in the Brigade is marksman named Frank Fairburne, a Maasai warrior called Natangu Rushia, and a northerner named Gracie Braithwaite.
“My favourite character is Gracie, the engineer girl,” said Fejes, “I like her special the most, it’s like a game within a game. Her special is she can pull an enemy in towards her and then direct them where you want to punch them. So if you’re skilled enough, you can take our enemies in the air, or direct them into a group and create a bowling ball like effect.”
Fejes said that you’ll have to use each character to uncover all the hidden areas and access different routes. If you’re playing as just one character, you won’t see everything. He also hinted at the desire to add new characters down the line, but wants to focus on getting the game done first.
My time with Strange Brigade was spent entirely by myself, and I had a blast, but as mentioned before, the game can be played with up to four players. There’s no split-screen, but you can play online, or even play over a LAN, if you can manage that sort of setup.
In order to keep the action moving, the penalty for death is merely waiting a few seconds to respawn in a nearby unearthed coffin, and the loss of some gold coins used for upgrades. Fejes said the team is still working out exactly how to penalise death in a way that feels impactful but not too harsh.
Speaking of death, each map comes riddled with deadly traps for you to lure enemies into, or become a victim of yourself. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was watching a horde of undead bastards meet their doom in a giant spinning blade trap.
When my session was over I can honestly say I wanted to play more. I went into Strange Brigade knowing basically nothing about it, and walked out ready to prepare myself for some late nights when it releases.