Strange Brigade gameplay preview: Undead onslaught is oodles of fun
Ah, the Brits. Cups of tea. Stiff upper lips. Crumpets with jam. Undead zombie hordes. We have it all.
UK studio Rebellion’s latest title, Strange Brigade, is a 1930s-style adventure which throws you into an adventure in forgotten civilisations. Track down treasure, decimate hordes of mythological menaces, laugh at the sheer insanity as dozens of undead nasties are taken out by triggering traps. It’s quite the detour from the studio’s Sniper Elite series, for which it is best known.
What makes Strange Brigade particularly special is the way in which it’s delivered: with British panache. The narrator sounds so spiffingly English, like a classic 1930s announcer, that it transports you into this other world with a nod and a wink; it’s not the ultra-serious shoot ’em up that are becoming ten a penny in the games industry these days.
The game features four characters, each with differing abilities to suit different play styles or tactical co-operative play: there’s Professor Archimedes De Quincy, an archaeologist and Oxford scholar, whose special weapon in a Kingsley Special; Frank Fairburne, described as “the man with the coldest eyes in the Empire”, a marksman whose special weapon is a Huntsman rifle; Gracie Braithwaite, a Northern lass from the textile towns of Lancashire, whose special weapon in a Double-Barrel shotgun; and Natangu Rushia, a female Massai warrior from Kenya, whose special weapon in a Chamberlain Automatic.
We weren’t totally sure what to expect from Strange Brigade, but the game gives no time to overthink things. Scores of undead enemies raise from the ground, leaving you to shoot, shoot, run and shoot some more. It’s a hectic third-person shooter, with additional traps, puzzles and detours from it being just non-stop shooting mayhem.
Far from a single shot taking out any given foe, the game also throws in trickier enemies. There are mummies, fast-moving Pharaoh-like warriors and, as was introduced within mere moments of starting to play the game, an armoured Minotaur. The last of these beasties, in particular, takes a lot of damage before he’s down – plus he can surprise with special fast attacks.
A level-up power bar increases with each foe you take down, which eventually fills your character’s special attack for use. This differs depending on character choice, but is ultimately similar in delivering a rush attack with a greater spread of devastation. It doesn’t take too long to fill up either, which is handy given the relentless onslaught of enemies.
All of this is peppered with narration shtick between stages of the game, which helps the title stand out as and can even tickle out the odd laugh.
There’s nothing strange about Strange Brigade. If you like non-stop third-person shooters – whether solo or up to four player – then this British treat will be as satisfying as a chocolate Hobnob dunked in a cup of char. One to keep an eye out for when it launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC. There’s no release date set as yet, but we’re hoping it’ll make it out before the end of 2018.