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Strange Brigade takes on mummies in demo footage

Strange Brigade

Real talk: the only opinions I’m capable of having right now are related to ice creams that will see me through the UK’s unfamiliar hot weather. That’s why my emotions towards Rebellion’s next game, Strange Brigade [official site] are pretty much just “WHY ARE YOU NOT AN ICE CREAM?” Instead of being a delicious Twister, Strange Brigade is determined to be a third-person adventure thingy for 1-4 players set in a 1930s explorer kind of world. It’s all ancient evil and dirigibles and Egyptology and British Empire this and that. Aesthetically it reminds me of films like The Mummy – the one with Brendan Fraser, not the reboot with Tom Cruise which is confusing me every time I pass the local cinema – or the Tintin comics from around the 1930s. Maybe even a ’50s rendition of the ’30s?

“Embark on an exotic safari into DANGER where few dare go and fewer return! Encounter FANTASTIC and forgotten civilizations shrouded in MYSTERY! Uncover TREACHEROUS tombs and unfathomable EVIL, never-before-seen by any human now living!”

In terms of how it plays it doesn’t seem particularly interesting. At least, not yet. The footage above is alpha so it might just be that the team are focused on getting the combat to feel right and will then turn to other aspects. At the moment it feels like it’s relying on that era of derring-do to make it stand out from the crowd and yet as soon as the gameplay starts that fades away and it’s just about clearing themed mobs and exploring. For that kind of experience you only really know if it’s fun to play when you get your hands on it.

Thing is, although the theming seems pretty basic at the minute I’m not sure how I’d feel about Rebellion going heavier on it. Leaning into the trappings of the British Empire for larks is not my natural inclination. It’s usually problematic as all get-out and enjoyment depends on how much you can/want to switch off from the accompanying issues or at least how well the developers can isolate the elements they like from the elements which would cast a pall over the jollity and just do period-piece set dressing and so on.

Strange Brigade

While idly reading around articles on tomb archaeology when I should have been writing this news story, I found this one from Matthias Schultz of Der Spiegel about whether Howard Carter stole from the tomb of Tutankhamun. There was also a piece in the Guardian a couple of years ago about nostalgia for the British Raj. It starts out oddly and commenters have noted that the references to the Dishoom restaurant chain seem misplaced given those restaurants are about evoking Irani cafes which existed in colonial Bombay but weren’t a direct product of British rule in India, rather they were about Iranian immigration which produced a particular cafe culture. ANYWAY, the second half of that article had some interesting reading and addresses one or two theories about nostalgia for colonial rule.

Strange Brigade is set for a 2018 launch.

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Philippa Warr

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