Strange Brigade Review

Richard Walker

Contrary to popular belief, not every British person subsists on a diet of tea and crumpets, although Strange Brigade plays up to all of the finest stereotypes that this fair isle I call home is known for. Brilliantly tongue-in-cheek, Rebellion's rollicking third-person shooter is full to bursting with personality, its spiffing 1930s radio-style narrator proving constantly entertaining from beginning to end. It's a unique touch that could have been irritating, but amazingly, somehow isn't.

It helps that the game's core mechanics are pretty sound, and its blend of mummy blasting and puzzles keeps things interesting throughout its 8-12 hour campaign. There are mysteries aplenty in Strange Brigade's rendition of Egypt, with myriad cobweb-strewn tombs and hidden catacombs to find and secret treasure to unearth. Were Strange Brigade simply a straight-up shooter, it'd probably get a bit dull quite quickly, but the occasional conundrums offer a welcome respite to the bullets and (mummy) bandages.

Enemies are quite varied too, with new types introduced on a regular basis to keep you on your toes, so standard shambling mummies give way to armoured foes, explosive hurling grenadiers, charging bull champions, reanimated skeletons and the more resilient, classic Karloff-esque bandaged mummy.

Happily, ammunition is plentiful in Strange Brigade, so you're seldom scrabbling around for lead to plug the undead with, and there's always your infinite ammo pistol to fall back on if things get desperate. Your accumulated gold can also be spent on opening cases bearing special single-use prototype weapons like a flamethrower, grenade launcher, trusty blunderbuss or a powerful sniper rifle that are perfect for tearing through groups like a hot knife through butter, or for knocking bosses down a peg or two.

Collecting blue souls from vanquished enemies charges up your chosen character's amulet too, for a devastating crowd-controlling blast, whether it's Gracie Braithwaite's explosive punch, Frank Fairburne's (related to Sniper Elite's Karl, surely?) quick-fire takedown, Nalangu Rashida's fiery ground pound or, erm, Prof. Archimedes de Quincey's swarm of homing beetles. Each character has a total of four special amulet abilities, the others available to unlock when you complete a set of collectible relics and earn a skill point for your efforts.

This means that tracking down collectibles and solving puzzles to excavate relics actually serves a purpose beyond simply finding the stuff for the hell of it, and some treasure chests contain gold and gems used to purchase and upgrade weapons, respectively. Your loadout can be tailored to your preferences too, so you can switch out Gracie's double-barrel shotgun for a repeater, if you'd rather, or ditch Frank's Huntsman rifle for a machine gun. You can switch out your sidearm and throwables too if you want, or change characters between missions. This flexibility helps keep things fresh. That said, I stuck with factory girl Gracie throughout, her blunt, no-nonsense northern charm and one-liners winning out over the rest of the brigade.

As you battle the undead armies of witch queen Seteki, you'll be able to add greater potency to your chosen guns with helpful gems that can be slotted into certain weapons, granting ammo that ricochets off walls, leeches health from enemies, sets foes alight, freezes them, inflicts increased headshot damage and more. And as the action escalates, Strange Brigade throws you into walled-off areas filled with traps and shambling corpses in greater numbers, making for some satisfying, destructive combos with a well-placed explosive (which replenish on a cooldown timer) or a timely trap activation.

Initially, Strange Brigade's core shooter mechanics – the nuts and bolts of the thing – can feel a little bit woolly. Collision detection feels slightly wonky and projectiles sometimes don't have the sort of impact you'd expect, but the more you play Strange Brigade, the more you forgive the minor foibles, and the more you realise that it's not actually as janky as it may seem. Strange Brigade is actually remarkably robust, each weapon imbued with its own characteristics, and every puzzle neatly composed to ensure you feel nice and smug when you figure out the solution.

While the campaign eventually proves to be a blast, despite a couple of shoddy, fairly interminable boss battles at the end, Score Attack and Horde modes extend the fun, and you can play the lot with up to three others to get even more out of what Strange Brigade has to offer.

Score Attack pits you against the clock to see how fast you can run through a level while keeping a combat counter active in order to boost the number of points you can rack up, whereas Horde does exactly what its says on the tin. Battle waves of increasingly tough foes and survive for as long as you can. Standard. Both feature online leaderboards and full co-op support too, so you could conceivably play these two modes indefinitely, although only by completing the campaign can you unlock all of the levels.

There's no denying that Strange Brigade is mighty enjoyable, a none-more British, cheekily humorous romp that provides raucous good fun from beginning to end. At face value, Rebellion's latest entry into the shooter genre might appear fairly generic, but it's a game boasting bags of personality to spare, some genuinely awesome environments, pirate skeletons, cool puzzles, and far more variety than is initially apparent. Stick with it, and Strange Brigade proves to be a treasure worth digging up, and a jolly spiffing time at that, old chap.

Strange Brigade

A wondrous shiny, if slightly flawed, treasure that's deserving of your time, Strange Brigade is enormously entertaining when played solo, even better when you bring a troupe of fellow adventurers along for the ride. Strange Brigade is indeed rather strange, but it's also ripping good fun, best played with a nice cup of tea. Preferably Earl Grey.

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The plummy narrator is completely brilliant, the voice acting for the brigade themselves is top notch, and the music communicates the game's sense of fun and adventure.


A lot of sand, but it's very lovely sand across a range of fairly distinct Egyptian vistas and subterranean regions. There's even a pirate cove in the mix there too, which looks very nice indeed.


A very solid and intuitive shooter, much as you'd expect from the house of Sniper Elite. There are slight flaws and niggles, but overall, Strange Brigade plays very well and is enjoyable solo or with comrades.


Campaign, Score Attack and Horde, as well as an eclectic cast of characters, weapons and abilities ensure that there's plenty to do in Strange Brigade, but there's a sense that the shooting mechanics aren't quite as tight as they could have been. Occasionally, it'll look like you've shot something, but nothing registers, making the gunplay feel slightly 'baggy' at times.


A decent, varied list that encourages repeat visits to uncover everything Strange Brigade has hidden away. Perhaps a little more invention could have been injected into this list, but it's a good, solid one with decent spread that complements the action nicely.

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