'By jingo': Strange Brigade gamers hunt treasure, mummies
WHAT could be better than searching for lost treasure and fighting re-animated mummies? Doing it in a 1930s British "ripping yarn"-inspired setting with hilarious narration and lots of action, of course!
Developed by Rebellion for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Strange Brigade is a loving homage and pastiche of inter-war Saturday matinee films of the kind which inspired Indiana Jones and manages to hit itself for six in the process.
Mechanically, it's a solo or co-op horde shooter, where you take control of one of the titular Brigade's members (A warrior, an engineer, an academic and a soldier, with more expected post-launch) and battle your way through a series of Egyptian ruins on the trail of a missing expedition which has raised a demon pharaoh from her eternal slumber.
Queen Seteki has summoned literal hordes of ghouls, mummies, revenants and other cadaverous creatures as part of her quest to take over the world, and it's up to the Strange Brigade to stop them - and her - by shooting everything in sight - and lining their pockets with every shiny object they can find that isn't nailed down. After all, it's not theft if you put it in a museum!
The four main members of the Strange Brigade - and yes, you can play co-op with four friends - aren't much different from each other capability wise; the main difference is the type of amulet power they have - and although they come with a pre-set weapons loadout, you can change it around as you unlock more guns, meaning which one you play is really down to personal preference.
The star of the show is easily the narrator, however, who perfectly blends wry cynicism and fourth-wall breaking commentary with that over-enthusiastic "by jingo!" narrative style found in old newsreels.
The humour in Strange Brigade is very well done and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions - it's clear everyone involved had a lot of fun making the game and that comes across very strongly as you play.
Despite being a rip-roaring adventure of the kind they simply don't make any more, Strange Brigade does have a few issues, though.
Besides the relative gameplay similarity of the main characters, you can't really wander off the main path too far either - disappointing for a game about adventure and treasure-hunting.
The checkpoints aren't always in the best locations either, meaning you might get killed in the last wave of an intense boss fight and have to do the whole thumb-wracking thing over again, or find you got taken down by a horde of horrors at an inopportune time and have to start from much further back in the level.
I couldn't notice an auto-aim function in the PS4 version game which I reviewed (despite what the settings said), which caused a lot of frustration in some of the boss battles as I was trying to precisely hit a small, glowing orb on a mobile, angry target that was trying to cleave me apart with a giant axe as hordes of horrifying mummies and ghouls swarmed me at the same time.
Ultimately however, Strange Brigade is jolly good fun, a ripping yarn adventure of the best kind, and absolutely worth seeking out and adding to your collection as soon as you can.