Co-op games have allowed friends to get together and experience fantastical worlds over the years. Sometimes this is side by side on the couch, other times it’s through online play. Strange Brigade lets friends hop online and take on Egyptian monsters, puzzles, and obstacles as a team.
The story of Strange Brigade follows a team of fortune hunters as they embark on a quest to hunt down and defeat Seteki the Witch Queen, who has recently been released from her tomb. Our heroes travel across a variety of locales, including ruins, tombs, and camp sites. These landscapes are beautifully designed, offer plenty of room to fight within, and make you more immersed in the story as a whole.
There are currently four playable characters, each with their own unique loadouts. My personal favorite, Frank, uses a Westminster 1895 Rifle, a Marley .45 Automatic, and dynamite. My friend Jeff chose Archimedes, who uses a Kingsley Special Repeater, a Marley .45 Automatic, and sticky grenades. We had a great combination of slower, powerful shots from me, and rapid-fire shots from him. You are also able to customize each character’s loadout if you want to switch anything out. This is a nice touch, but your only other options are the starting weapons of the other characters; this expands as you buy more weapons later.
If you want to unlock more weapons, you’ll need to buy them with gold that you collect from the levels. Once a weapon is purchased, any of your characters will have it available for use. The same thing applies to secondary weapons and explosives. There are some pretty good weapons to buy, including more powerful rifles, shotguns, and even a decoy grenade. You can swap your loadout before a mission or at the workbenches that are scattered around the levels. It’s great to be able to change your weapons in the middle of a mission if your current setup isn’t cutting it. There are also special weapon chests you’ll occasionally find sitting around. These cost gold to open, but provide a random powerful weapon. They have a limited amount of ammo, disappearing when you run out. This special weapon is added to your loadout temporarily and doesn’t take the place of any of your current weapons. You can save it for a tough fight down the line if you feel inclined.
One of the most interesting tools at your disposal are the amulets. These amulets allow the player to unleash a devastating special move once their amulet is filled with energy. For example, Frank’s default amulet lets him do a shoulder charge that launches an enemy and causes them to explode. Archimedes unleashes a swarm of scarabs that target enemies and damage them. Every character has a few other amulets that they can unlock and swap with their default later. In order to unlock them, you must acquire skill points, which are earned from finding sets of relics throughout the levels. There’s a good challenge to discovering the relics and you feel a sense of pride from finishing a set. The amulet energy is obtained from defeated enemies, either by running over it or holding down R2 to pull the energy to you.
The missions also have blue cat statues that you can find and destroy. Destroying all cat statues in a level unlocks access to a special room near the end of the mission. You can collect a golden cat, along with plenty of extra gold. This is an amazing way to boost your gold reserves and buy more weapons.
Besides the campaign mode, where you follow the story of the Strange Brigade hunting down Seteki, you also have horde and score attack mode. Horde mode lets you choose one of four locations, and you must survive against waves of enemies. You start with a pistol, an empty amulet, and no gold. As you defeat enemies, you’ll collect gold that you can use to purchase better weapons from the workbench. This helps you become more powerful and gives you ways to survive longer. In between waves, you can alter your loadout and purchase new tools. There are also doors that you can open by paying gold to the demon that controls that door. Doing so can open a room with useful items or even a path to other areas of that map. The door costs vary greatly, so be ready to spend a lot if you want to get around more. Score attack mode lets you play through levels with the goal of attaining the highest score that you can.
Strange Brigade backs up its fun gameplay with a goofy charm, especially from its characters and narrator. The characters can talk during combat, although you have the option to tone that down if you want. I left it at max and I didn’t regret it. The game captures the 1930s tone that it was aiming for incredibly well. The narrator will say things like “what sort of malicious mummified monstrosity is this?” or “march on fortune hunters, for glory awaits!” Hearing the classic dramatic narrator voice from years ago adds so much charm and makes the game more endearing.
You can play solo or with up to four friends, although playing with friends is easily the better option. The game is fun by yourself, but something about decimating hordes of enemies with a partner is even better. Plus, if a friend dies, they will appear in a sarcophagus, waiting for you to open it up and let them out. This is Strange Brigade’s unique and clever way of handling reviving. I appreciate that it’s not the typical “hold down a button while near your downed ally” method that many games have. That’s not a bad method, but it’s refreshing to see the development team decided to switch things up. That being said, if you’re a fan of third person shooters, quirky characters and stories, and taking on obstacles with a few friends, then Strange Brigade is the game for you.
Strange Brigade is a fantastic third person shooter that is best enjoyed with friends. The 1930s tone and quirky charm are wonderfully crafted, adding more of a light-hearted tone to the experience. The variety of weapons and abilities are nice and offer something for every type of player.