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The STRANGE BRIGADE is a band of intrepid adventurers playable on the major consoles and via Steam on the PC. You can play it Solo or as an up to 4 player multi-player game. The following review is of the viewpoint of a single player using a created character on the PS4, from the brief (but just enough) creation settings found at the start of the game. You can play the Campaign game (which is what I did) or cooperatively against the Horde.

The PS4 controls are slightly different to what you may think of as regular, such as collecting Gold Coins which you just have to move over and objects and artefacts that you need to hold down the 'square' button until the onscreen circle has completed, though sometimes just a quick press of the button will suffice; it depends on what you are picking up.

The first thing to mention is the narration by Glen McReady  It is just short of gut-bustingly amusing. The comments are so sarcastic, very sarcastic, in fact to the point of ascerbic But at the same time they are hilarious. Just a couple of examples. If you are in the game and your character is just standing around doing nothing it doesn't take long before the narrator's voice comes across "Taking A Break?" and if you continue to do nothing "There Is A Panic Button You Know!" "Well you won't get anything from me" "We'll See Who Breaks First". It's worth just standing around once in a while just to let him butt-in

 

STRANGE BRIGADE is a very visual game with some superb matte backgrounds as well as the usual explodable barrels - nearly always close to where the monsters appear (that's helpful - oops it's got me being sarcastic now) and a few odd tricks also; such as the glass globe which when you shoot at it triggers a set or rotating blades for a few seconds - really handy if you use it at the right time (just as the mobs are closing in - but make sure to stand out of its range, you can become chopped liver too). EGYPT in the 1930's could very well have looked like the way it is depicted here. Lots of sand, scruffy looking but solidly built buildings, British Army camp with tents and contents etc. This is one of the knock-backs, the tents! There is so much stuff and equipment visible but only a few coins or the occasional item can be picked up and used. You cannot even check to see if the radios aren't working, you just assume I guess, and you cannot look at the map pages spread around on the tables and floor, which could be interesting to view even if no use for the game play.

Like most adventure games you can kick open various containers - try not to kick barrels that glow red - and find the odd item, coin or monster - at the beginning most of the monsters are Skeletal Zombie-like creatures that move a lot faster than those on the TV show 'The Walking Dead' - these don't shamble they run! If you get in close combat with a Zombie give it a good kick and then follow up by stamping on its head, the sound effects are bone-breakingly excruciating but somewhat realistic - in fact whenever someone comes round to see us I quite often put the game on just so they can hear the effects. Near the beginning after successfully solving a fairly simple puzzle to open a gate you are attacked by Giant Scorpions, blooming great big Giant Scorpions. These so-and-so's not only move fast they can also roll out the way of your shots and tunnel beneath you to come up almost immediately at your back or flank. You need a powerful rifle to despatch them quickly - your pistol will do it but not before you have taken a whack or three from the stinger in their tail. Three or Four hits from a Zombie or 2-3 hits from a Giant Scorpion and it's curtains for you.

When you die you have options as to where you resurrect, generally you will choose the obvious - at the beginning of the currect section. The problem is that you can play for a long while and accomplish quite a lot without finding another Checkpoint, thus each time you (by 'you' I mean 'me') die you have to go through it all again, so frustrating. The best thing you can do is first off collect as much Gold as you possibly can as you will need it to get the best weapons and ammunition. There are chests that you can find which hold various alternative weapons - guns, rifles, shotguns, grenades etc - which you can just switch whenever you open one of them. There are also special chests that you can open - the lid springs up and a bright explosive light beams forth and amidst this aurora slowly spins a powerful weapon. It will come with limited ammunition (not that you know how much until you buy it - yes I said 'buy it'). It will cost you $500.00 gold to take the weapon. Then the lid will close. You can open it again and another weapon or item of use will be there and again it will cost you $500.00 gold, in fact you can open the chest and spend until you have no money left, or that's how it seems.

I tried four times on one chest and was allowed to carry everything I bought whereas with the 'free' chests you end up swapping weapons over as if you cannot possibly carry two rifles, let alone 3 or 4. To use/fire a weapon you need to use the Left 2 Button to Aim and the Right 2 Button to Fire. Headshots don't seem to have the same effect as they do in other Zombie games. Instead of exploding their skull you just see the health bar above them shrink down a percentage (about 50% I would guess). Some of the weapons found in these chests are prototype experiments with fire-power beyond belief, but you better believe it as some of them literally have 'fire' power.

 

Sitting around (well you can't sit, neither can you jump or climb unless it is automatic or these are only Actions Nalangu has problems with - she can forward roll at speed though) doing nothing will keep the comments coming from the narrator but will not slowly heal you if you are injured, you need Healing Potions for that. Healing Potions are not easy to find, they are in fact quite rare and I only ever seem to find one when I have to drink it immediately to stay alive, trying to hold onto one or even two (not sure if holding more than one is possible) I find difficult. Of course when you are at Death's Door and one featherlite touch away from dying your friendly narrator will say something like "You Better Find A Healing Potion" to use a Healing Potion the North Button is used, the other Buttons, East, South and West also can be used at times so be careful with your fingers on the controller, it is easy to do something you wish you hadn't - such as use a Healing Potion when you already have very close to full health, I don't think you can use a Health Potion if you are actually on full health but just one point away will use your potion up. The Amulet can be upgraded during play 

Each character has a Magic Amulet that collects the essences of Zombies as they die; each character gets different powers from their Amulet. Using the Amulet expels all the collected energy in one use. For example it could cause a pounding thump that looks good but does little except perhaps knock close-by enemies over as if they were hit by an earthquake. Whatever you do don't get into the middle of a Zombie Horde melee, you cannot run or jump out of it, an explosion will hurt you too, and you only have 6, 7 or possible 8 bullets in your pistol - your rifles are usually of ne use close up). If the Horde is coming at you in numbers then before they surround you run away, turn and fire, run some more, turn and fire some more and eventually you will/should have cleared a path through.

 

Like so many Action/Adventure games you can often see what you want to do or where you want to be, but unless you can (find it first) solve the puzzle to trigger the scene that opens the way forward. Some of the puzzles are puzzling, others are pretty straightforward, just requiring an amount of observation before activating the switch. Speaking of switches, there are those that look like switches and others look like some kind of large glowing artefact and once you have recognised them for what they are you have to discover how to activate them - often a bullet will do the trick - and then discover what activating them has triggered, because whatever it is usually can be found in a different location to the switch.

It appears that around 3500-4000 years back (from 1930s) an ancient mythological Goddess/Queen named Seteki rules with an iron fist in a gruesome and brutal fashion, using her Horde of vicious creatures to keep the populace under control. Now Seteki has been awoken and in turn has brought back from the past all of her amazing scary monsters. She now has a Horde creatures loyal to her and she doesn't want anyone interfering with her tomb or the surrounding terrain. Amongst these varmints are the Assassins, Fire-Breathers, Giant Scorpions, Minotaurs in Tough Armour, Mummified Monsters and Skeletal Zombie types, plus  much, much worse! Apart from fighting this Horde and not being able to jump etc there are also nefarious traps to negotiate plus there are in-built barriers to prevent you falling over cliffs, diving into the water, getting on one of the boats in the harbour even though they look perfectly good 3D rendors they are sadly not part of the game - pity as it would have been fun to negotiate around the coast in a small boat - think of all the fish you could catch.? plus getting around would be easier (which is why you cannot use a boat, you have to discover how to get around by yourself).

The choice of Player Characters is limited to one of the four available. Each of the STRANGE BRIGADE has an Amulet with different powers. You might want to select the character you play from the powers they have:

Frank Fairburne: the rough, tough, Soldier of Fortune who likes Gold as much (actually more than) as he likes helping the group


Chariot Charge: A powerful shoulder barge, which sends your foe flying, before exploding.
Call of Seteki: Summons friendly undead for several seconds, forming a very good decoy as enemies are preferentially attracted to them.
Deadly Eye of Horus: Six rapid headshots dispatch nearby enemies.
Soul on Fire: Turns a selected enemy into a walking bomb.

Gracie Braithwaite: The Pugilist (that's 'boxer' in case you were thinking she collected Pugs - the dog variety not PickUpGroups)

Curse of the Mummy's Tomb: Pulls an enemy in then aim and launch them as an explosive.
Daze of Heaven: Grabs an enemy with a tether which lifts and slams them into the ground.
Raging Bull of Apis: Attack with powerful punches, while protected from some damage.
Thoth's Angry Automaton: Automatically targets and destroys enemies within range.

Nalangu Rushida: the Demon Hunter (who I selected)

Blazing Wrath of Ra: Leap into the air and slam down, clearing an area around you.
Deadly Tether: Creates a laser between you and an enemy. Enemies that contact the beam are destroyed.
Heavy Ka Impact: Electrocutes enemies, then creates a blast around them.
Shu's Chilling Touch: Blasts ice in a straight line ahead of you, freezing your enemies.

Prof. Archimedes de Quincey: the upturned-nose Scholarly Gentleman who isn't perturbed by the odd use of a firearm or two

All-Consuming Swarm: Summon a scarab swarm that homes in on enemies.
Desert Mirage: Summons a decoy that stands for several seconds attracting enemies before exploding.
Divine Poultry Punishment: Temporarily turns enemies withing range into chickens.
Set’s Cruel Pleasures: A lightning attack that spreads through a group of enemies. 

There are some minor irritations in this game, such as it not being a 'sandbox style' that lets you roam freely, but these irritants are so rare that the gameplay completely overshadows them. I think I'd like my cake and be able to eat it to though. What I mean is that I'd like the Actions of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones coupled with the fire-power and adventure of the Strange Brigade. In other words neither the characters nor the environment are as flexible as I would have preferred but it's still a good fun game as long as you can stay alive between Checkpoints - oh that reminds me, that's the other thing I think could be revised slightly, the lack of being able to save.

There is a lot of game between Checkpoints and if you are called away from the game for whatever reason or if your character dies then you are back to the beginning of the Chapter and all the hard work (okay it's not particularly hard work as you are playing a game but it is still frustrating and annoying that you have to do it all again) you have done to get so far. This obviously isn't the only game that prefers Checkpoints to Saves, and I feel the same way about all of them. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy playing I just don't enjoy restarting chapters over and over because of one error or because my dinner is ready to go into the dog if I don't leave the game and get to the dining table.

 

Press Release

My giddy aunt! The STRANGE BRIGADE have only gone and added an astonishing new hero to their ranks, three FREE new levels for Score Attack and a new FREE map for Horde Mode - all AVAILABLE NOW!

Season Pass owners can now play as Patrick 'Bash' Conaghan, the ex-rodeo rider with an eye for danger and pots of gold! Bash and his 'shocking' Wrath of Quetzalcoatl amulet attack are also available separately in the Texas Cowboy Character Pack on PS4, Xbox One and PC for £5.59.

All adventurers can try their luck in additional Harbin's Dig Path, Hidden Valley and Tunnels of Wadjet Score Attack levels, and the brand-spanking new Palace map for Horde Mode - all FREE and available NOW!

But those amazing additions are only the beginning for the STRANGE BRIGADE!

Rebellion have released a ruddy exciting road-map for the game's upcoming content, showcasing the substantial supplements players can look forward to in the upcoming months, including the three-part THRICE DAMNED CAMPAIGN!

THRICE DAMNED begins in October with the first two campaign missions due in that month, and the thrilling conclusion arriving in November.

Also incoming for Season Pass owners are three additional character expansion packs, each featuring wondrous new weapons, an astounding amulet power and handsome hero!

And plenty of FREE content is on the way too, including a jolly good helping of new Score Attack levels and Horde maps.

Check out the full DLC roadmap below:

SEPTEMBER 11

SEASON PASS 
Texas Cowboy Character Pack    - Patrick 'Bash' Conaghan playable character      - Wrath of Quetzalcoatl amulet attack

FREE 
Score Attack - Harbin's Dig Path II     Score Attack - Hidden Valley II     Score Attack - Tunnels of Wadjet II 
Horde map - Palace

EARLY OCTOBER

SEASON PASS 
Campaign Mission - The Thrice Damned 1: Isle of the Dead     American Aviatrix Character Expansion Pack 
- Tessie Caldwell playable character     - Internal Firestorm amulet power    - Hyde & Sons compact pistol 
- Colbeck Wildfire submachine gun    - Glacier Bomb special item

FREE 
Score Attack - Stone Church II    Score Attack - Cursed Village II    Horde map - Tunnels

LATE OCTOBER

SEASON PASS 
Campaign Mission - The Thrice Damned 2: The Sunken Kingdom     Japanese Naval Officer Character Expansion Pack 
- Hachiro Shimuzu playable character     - Piercing Pestilence amulet power   - Marchador TT pistol 
- Mikhailov-38 rifle    - Shock Grenade special item

FREE 
Score Attack - Cut-Throat Caverns II   Score Attack - Forsaken City II    Horde map - Chamber

NOVEMBER

SEASON PASS 
Campaign Mission - The Thrice Damned 3: Pyramid of Bes    Maharani Huntress Character Expansion Pack 
- Anjali Khan playable character    - Mosin-Nagant rifle    - MP40 submachine gun 
- Freeze Chain amulet power    - Cluster Grenade special item

FREE 
Score Attack - Great Pyramid II  Score Attack - Afterlife II   Horde map - Void

For more details, please visit StrangeBrigade.com

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015