Some games click with you right away, but, for me at least, Strange Brigade was not one of those games.
The title, which is being developed by the studio behind the Sniper Elite series, is a co-operative third person shooter with all the trappings of a 1930s pulp adventure.
With Gears of War still fresh in my mind from the Xbox One X reveal, I sat down for my play session, and started very slowly and deliberately making my way through the level. In Strange Brigade you fight against all manner of supernatural beasts, from zombies to mummies and sphinxes.
Try and play the game like a cover-based shooter however, and you’ll soon become frustrated by how easy the enemies are to take down, and how twitchy the controls are.
Run and gun
As I played through the demo level, my playstyle was gradually moulded to how the game wanted me to play it. I started throwing caution to the wind and started sprinting through packs of zombies, using a combination of melee attacks, grenades and my two-barrelled shotgun to take down crowds of them in quick succession.
Take down multiple enemies quickly enough and you start to build up special abilities, which vary based on which of the four characters you select. My character, for example, had a move where she could pull individual enemies towards her in order to deliver a knockout punch, but others had area of effect attacks, and homing projectiles.
The game has a pretty generous auto-aim, which, combined with the high damage output of the weapons, made the gunplay very satisfying. Characters can get around the map very quickly, and it’s easy to run rings around your opponents.
The whole game has a very pulpy adventure style to it. A bombastic British voice-over proudly announces various events within the mission, and all of the characters fit into archetypes from the genre.
In my brief time with the game I only had the chance to try out its mission in single-player, but you get the sense that Strange Brigade will come alive in its co-operative mode, when you’ll be able to combine the special abilities of the game’s four characters to devastating effect.
The game’s developer, Rebellion, hasn’t announced a release date for the game yet, but it was great to see a small English developer putting on a good show at the conference, especially when the game itself felt as British as they come.
And, so long as the team manage to walk the fine line between being inspired by the old genre without falling into some of its more problematic tropes, it feels like Strange Brigade could end up being a fun, lighthearted, co-op shooter.
Strange Brigade is coming to PC, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. A release date has not yet been announced.
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