Rebellion is without a doubt a brand name to always keep an eye out for. As a top-tier European developer they have carved quite a niche in the market with their third-person shooters. Most notably they are the ones who created the Sniper Elite series; insane sniper rifle shooting with slow motion bone crushing, organ bursting, cinematic gameplay. They even dabbled in zombie horde variations of their Sniper Elite games with a unique series known as Zombie Army Trilogy. This time Rebellion is looking to start something new with a small-team shooter taking place in 1930s Egypt. It offers chaotic shooting, horde gameplay, puzzles and obstacles, and a progression system that is simple yet effective.
There has been an evil power released upon the world. Seteki, an ancient female pharaoh who practiced witchcraft, has been resurrected in an effort to carry out her ones foiled plot for complete world domination. The only thing standing in her way is the Strange Brigade who are as much treasure hunters as they are heroes. As players progress through the several hour long campaign, they will run into a large variety of enemies, including horrifying bosses. They will even cross into another realm in pursuit of Seteki in hopes of saving the day, but it comes down to the skills of the player to complete each of the acts along the way.
Strange Brigade can be played single-player, or with up to 3 friends. Rarely is a co-op game more fun single player, and this is no different. The best experience is with friends due to laughs, puzzle solving, and feeling of pace. There is a downside though but I’ll elaborate momentarily. Players can select from a small handful of characters (four to be exact). One of them is a hunting rifle expert named Frank who specializes in headshots. He is for players who enjoy precise ranged shooting but don’t expect aim assist to do anything with him; he really comes down to skill. The second character is Archimedes, and scholar who specializes in sub machine guns and shotguns. The third is Rushida, an African tribal woman who is equipped with an automatic rifle and Molotov cocktails that will literally burn up entire hordes. The fourth is Gracie, a shotgun enthusiast who excels in close range combat.
You can play as any character you want, even if your entire squad plays as the same one. Weapons are also not locked to any one person, but they will need to be purchased. Each one has stronger and overall better weapons available after purchase. To purchase new equipment players must save up in-game money from the levels. This is where the bad part happens. It’s every player for themselves as the spoils of looting and raiding are not shared. If one player collects all of the piles of gold and all of the chests, they will get a larger amount of money than the rest (of course). Luckily my friends and I were very friendly to make sure everyone was getting their share, but it won’t be this fair for everyone. It would be nice to see the developers patch this and allow a shared reward for everything in an effort to eliminate an awkward competitiveness.
Each player also has a little Egyptian contraption that collects souls and ultimately builds a special ability. Enemies drop souls on the ground and it’s up to the players to manually pull out the contraption and vacuum them all up. The vacuum has range though so it’s not the most time consuming thing to do. Specials are unique to each character but for the most part they are all areas of attack that can punish several enemies at once. The special abilities are not hard to power up which is nice. Outside of the basic builds of characters, players will have a vast array of upgrades available. Guns, depending on the tier of them, have 1 to 3 slots for upgrades.these upgrades are slowly found in the levels at random and will power the weapon up to do various things. The mods include better armour piercing, fire bullets, larger magazines, etc. While most of the enemies will be variations of mummies, the occasional minotaur or heavely armored warriors will require a little extra strength and time to bring down.
Graphics and Design
The levels are surprisingly amazing in regards to design and structure. Granted they have their short comings with stretches of very linear paths, they all have something unique that breaks up the repetition from said linear pathways. Every now and then players will run into tombs that are calling for exploration. Occasionally these tombs are required for the base map progression, but some are special and can even be locked away for the whole level run. When encountering the tomb areas (and dozens of outside areas), puzzles will need to be solved iorder to proceed to the next area. They are far from impossible but they will be thought provoking and even difficult to some.
My friends played through the introduction level without me, so when we all played it again together they quizzes me with solving all of the puzzles. Some of them such as sequence shooting was very easy for me to grasp yet they said it was 15 minutes of torture for them to solve (they were overthinking it). A few moments later we encountered another puzzle that required a sequence of hieroglyphs to be input and I failed pretty bad. This puzzle was easy for them as they found the code hidden across the ruins (I was overthinking it and trying to solve it based on my best guess).
It’s hilarious how simple yet mind breaking some of them can be, especially when you work together as a team to solve them. They almost always make you feel dumb whether you solve it first try or fail several times. Fail a puzzle though and the game will punish you with a horde or two of enemies before you can try again. Occasionally the puzzles will require players to spread out in order to shoot various targets from various spots in the area. Between the puzzles, the hordes of enemies, and the boss fights, every level feels like a raid of some kind.
Strange Brigade is absolutely awesome. It’s well worth a play through with friends, and one could make the argument that it’s a pretty good game single player too. The only issues I found included the competitive looting which took away some of the excitement of being in a lobby with other players as the comradery dwindled when instead it should be heightened. I really enjoyed the Egyptian setting and a sense of almost nostalgia due to its vibes of movie classics Indiana Jones and The Mummy. The progression system is great and the puzzles add a beautiful dimension to the gameplay. Shooting is as good as the time you commit to adjusting to it, or as horrible as you feel when playing it initially.
|+ Immersive Egyptian setting||– Shooting takes awhile to adjust to|
|+ Diverse classes and setups||– Competitive loot grabbing|
|+ Exciting co-op action|
|+ Challenging puzzles with raid vibes|
|+ Horde modes for extra content|