What do you get when you mix Indiana Jones, 1930s serials, and hordes of undead? The answer is “Strange Brigade” a third-person shooter released in 2018 by developer and publisher Rebellion Developments. With an emphasis on co-op teamwork to raid crypts and stop an evil Queen spirit, Strange Brigade was available on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Would Strange Brigade become a hidden gem or would it fall to the depths of the unknown?
If the X-Files existed in the 1930s, Agent Mulder and Agent Scully would be on the “Strange Brigade”. Actually, the better reference would be Indiana Jones as he did exactly what the Strange Brigade does and in their era. Four members make up the Strange Brigade, an investigative team that travels to abandoned tombs or dangerous crypts to hunt for treasure and put the undead to rest.
The members of the team are Nalangu Rushida, an African woman who looks like a member of the undead. She is from a tribe and wears traditional tribal garb, you know red, green, yellow patterns, has the giant earholes, white ash on her face, probably some animal penis skin wrapped around her body, etc..
There’s Gracie Braithwaite, a redhead woman who reminds me of a lot of “Rosie the Riveter”. She has a very annoying accent. Then there’s Archimedes de Quincey, who is a dweeb just like his name suggests. He’s that rich kid that is a little bit of a nerd. Finally, there’s Frank Fairburne who I chose to play as. He was the only character that seemed like a BA and reminded me of the rugged, tough guys that I like to play as, none of that sissy crap for me.
The Strange Brigade’s latest investigation is about an evil spirit who ruled over 4,000 years ago in Africa. This queen is known as Seteki and her tomb has recently been disturbed resulting in her spirit being released and causing havoc around the world. It’s up to the Strange Brigade to travel around the world and destroy the soul cages that grant her power.
They get the job done after traveling around, destroying the soul cages, and taking out her commanding demons. The last mission sees them traveling to the underworld to put down Seteki for good.
Okay, let me get the most annoying factor of Strange Brigade out of the way now. The narrator is so annoying and that’s putting it lightly. The game is presented as a 1930s serial with comic relief. The target audience has to be middle school boys because I don’t know who else would enjoy how awful the narrator is. How is he awful you ask? If you pause the game he will say something immediately usually about “getting the door” or “needing to make tea” but if I just set the controller down for 15 seconds and didn’t move the character he starts chiming in “You know there is a pause button”. He was just as annoying with his attempts at humor in the black-and-white scenes between missions. The characters had no relationships or likable traits with very little dialogue. It was tough to develop a bond with them or begin to like them with so little interaction shown.
Graphics are nothing special and the game could pass as an Xbox 360 or PS3 title. You won’t get the small details like footprints in the sand or wind effects but the overall environment and atmosphere were solid. There’s a lot to look at and explore so it was enjoyable to take in everything as you entered a cave or discovered a new area. My favorite mission was one that takes place at dusk in a small village. It reminded me of Bloodborne, and that’s a great thing! It was spooky with the wooden crosses in the ground and wispy tall grass.
The goal of each mission is to explore the area, solve small puzzles to earn extra treasure and survive hordes of undead zombies, skeletons, and other supernatural spirits as they try and kill you. I played the entire game by myself and at some points, I was almost overwhelmed but there were only two times I was killed. One particular instant was in mission six where I had to fight horde after horde of enemies and they just kept coming. I thought I was doing something wrong at first because it seemed like it would never end but after 20 minutes I did kill everyone and they stopped coming.
You can upgrade your weapons or purchase others with the gold you find in missions. I did this a few times but stuck with my trusty rifle as opposed to shotguns or machine guns. The best part of Strange Brigade is the creative ways to kill the enemies. Sure, you have plenty of guns to do the trick but there are hundreds of traps and explosives to activate. This is where the developers shined. It was fun to run around and search for unique ways to blow up the horde as they slowly chased me. Boss fights were fun too and each had an obvious way to kill them. The final boss was easier than I expected but it was creative enough to satisfy the ending.
My wife has an Xbox One and her cool older brother bought Strange Brigade for it so they could play together. Actually, come to think of it he bought her the Xbox One too, so emphasis on “cool dude”. Anyway, he lives in Virginia Beach and they used to play video games a lot together but aren’t able to play much anymore. With us living in the “future” now, it’s easier for families to play together even if they don’t live in the same state.
I had never heard of Strange Brigade but one day my wife was playing it online with her brother. I watched for a few minutes before returning to whatever I was doing and mentally noted that I’d have to check it out myself sometime. I was happy to find it a solid experience but quickly realized I should have played with another person a.k.a. (use Borat’s voice) my wife. It’s clearly meant to play with others but since I’m antisocial and don’t like people I played it by myself and had to beat the game with just little ‘ole me.
If you have two or three friends and want to team up in a fun third-person shooter for a weekend, Strange Brigade will hold your interest. It’s not a deep game and you won’t like the characters or narrator but just for pure fun purposes, Strange Brigade gets the job done.
Strange Brigade scores a 7.2 out of 10.
Do you remember when Strange Brigade first came out? What character did you choose to play as? Did you hate the narration? What was your favorite mission or favorite gun? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Strange Brigade, you can purchase a brand new copy of it for the Xbox One from eBay for $15.