The Great Leader is dead, and your home planet of Solo Nobre is in chaos. You have decided to join and fight for the Solo Nobre Concern (SNC), which means your legal citizenship has been revoked. You must bring three factions into submission: The Loyalists, Corvid, and Spacers. As the fighting intensifies, you will acquire vast sums of cash, which must be used to purchase new combat vehicles and weapons. Do you have what it takes to liberate Solo Nobre from tyranny once and for all?
When I was a young lad, back when the dinosaurs still ruled the earth, I loved me some Battletech. The premise of large robots stomping around and blowing stuff up really tickled my fancy, and I still have a soft spot for that kind of mayhem to this day.
Flash to the present with my first assignment: an eXcursion on the game Brigador. I am a little worried: new kid on the block, being given a game I have never heard of – this is most likely not going to be good. When I quickly looked the game up, however, I breathed a sigh of relief, “It’s a mech game, I get to stomp around and blow stuff up!” This might not be so bad after all, right?
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s an adage I try to live by. Don’t believe me? Go try out Planets Nu, the game I’ve reviewed previously and love to death. It is a textbook example of a game that is easy to bounce off of the first few tries.
I bounced off Brigador hard. Now mind you, action games are not my area of interest these days (every so often I will load up a Mega Man game to get my fix, but it gets rarer with each passing year). In this day and age where we have dozens, if not hundreds, of games in our Steam libraries (I am one game away from hitting a hundred), a game had better grab my interest quickly, especially now with the refund policy that allows us to return the game if we have played less than two hours. If I wasn’t writing this article, I would have refunded Brigador. Why?
When first loading up the game, I was greeted with a garish nightmare of an intro screen (seen above). “Not unexpected, it’s an indie game,” I said to myself. Beyond the intro, I was dumped into the main menu, where a catchy techno tune began to play. “The music is well done” I noted, nodding in time to it as I clicked on the campaign selection and loaded up my first mission.
Darkness consumed my monitor screen. Is that little guy at the bottom left of the screen MY mech? Any illusions of piloting a walking behemoth of death and destruction dissipated, “Not unexpected, it’s an indie game,” I said to myself again, but my enthusiasm was waning.
One hand on my keyboard and the other on my mouse, I began to play.
Brigador, summed up, is an action-stealth game where you pilot a large, noisy mechanized vehicle. Yeah, I haven’t really seen that done before, either. Let’s try to not think about that too hard, shall we? The stealth part comes into play when you are spotted by an enemy and don’t destroy them quickly enough; they alert all nearby enemy units, ensuring you a quick death. And believe me, death does come quickly. Many times I didn’t even have time to register what was going on before I went BOOM! When you die, you blow up in a puff of smoke and are presented with a screen showing your limited earnings. And then, just like the good ol’ days, you get to start that mission from scratch again with no progress saved.
Controls take a bit of getting used to. You move your mech around using the standard WASD. The mouse controls your facing, with the left and right buttons firing your weapons and the middle scroll button as your special attack. I quickly found out that the E key moves your mech in the direction you are facing, and that became my favoured mode of movement. Bashing the space bar causes your mech to stomp on whatever is in front of it or makes your tank charge ahead.
Combat is where things get wonky. You have to get the enemy units into your line of fire without clicking exactly on them. Instead, you have to aim short of the target with projectile weapons, for example, to hit them dead on. It takes awhile to figure out but, once you get used to it, the combat flows nicely. Enemy units move very fast once engaged with you, though, so it’s not like you can just sit back and shoot. Also, specials such as smoke grenades can obscure enemy sight, increasing your tactical options. Buildings and structures can be destroyed, allowing you new routes to victory, but at the same time they cause “noise” which can attract enemy units, so you will need to exercise caution.
The graphics are in a pixel art style, and – when lit up – are impressively detailed with a lot of variety. Sounds are retro, with music done by Makeup and Vanity Set, which, if you enjoy electronica, you should definitely check out.
But the main problem is that this just isn’t the type of game I enjoy. It’s a fast-paced, twitch game whenever combat commences. I prefer having time to think out what I am going to do instead of snap-reacting to whatever the game throws at me. The only way to pause the game during a mission is to hit escape, which brings up a menu where you are unable to see the map and plan out your next move.
The freelance mode outside of the campaign doesn’t grab me either: all these things to buy and no clear explanation of what they do. In freelance mode you can purchase vehicles and upgrades, including the pilot, primary weapon, secondary weapon, and a special ability to load it with. Freelance is the main thrust of the developer’s attempt to lengthen the player’s time with the game – multiplayer doesn’t exist here. You also play throughout the game controlling only the one unit – squadron tactics are not to be found. In the campaign mode you unlock scenarios as you go with a selection of 4 pre-loaded vehicles to choose from – your selection determines the overall difficulty of the mission.
I can see that it’s a good action game that many will enjoy, but it isn’t for me. Even the lore was unappealing to me, and – what’s this? – I have to pay in-game currency to unlock it? At 90 minutes in, I had seen enough and would have moved on at that point. But, this time was different. I needed to tell others about the game and whether they would like it or not. I was filled with despair. How was I going to deal with this dilemma?
Sunlight pours in through the large picture window above my couch. My face burns. I roll off and hit the floor. Empty Baby Duck bottles clink and roll away from my body, as if terrified of my past abuses. Blurry eyes make out half-empty bags of cheetos and chips strewn about the room. “How long have I been out? How long have I cherished the sweet caress of the black void?”
Weeks, as it turns out. As my shaking hands reach for a half-empty bottle. Reality hits: I must finish this article before it kills me; I must come to terms with that which is Brigador.
Alright, so you are a big fan of action games. What does this title bring to the table? What makes it worth your hard earned money? Approaching the game for a second time I dug deeper and did some research. I found this article which immensely increased my understanding of what the game expected of me. Other players must have complained about the speed of play also, as I quickly found an option to slow the game down, allowing my middle-aged fingers to keep up with the flow of combat.
Brigador reminds me of Desert Strike, a game released back in the 90s, where you control a gunship and are free to wander each map as you see fit. Brigador isn’t quite as free roaming. You are not flying above the terrain but are immersed in it. You need to think strategically about the vehicle you choose for each mission and how to find the best route through the map. The controls, once you get used to them, are quite responsive, with an option to use a controller for a twin-stick shooter experience. Once again I must mention the music as it is very well done. The game is bug free, I experienced no crashes or any technical glitches during my eight hours of playtime.
For an action game you could do far worse. However, with all the titles available in this genre, I cannot recommend the game for its full price unless you wish to help support the developers. There is ample evidence of their blood, sweat and tears in this game and I applaud them for creating a fine entry in the “stomp around and blow stuff up” genre.
TL;DR: Retro in design and appearance, Brigador is an action game requiring fast reflexes and a strategic mind to carefully navigate your path to victory. The asking price seems a little high when compared to other options, but on sale it would offer a good scratch for that mech-stomping itch.
You might like this game if:
- You just need a break from trying to conquer the world/galaxy/universe
- Blowing up buildings and stomping on little people brings sweet release to your frustrations
- 90s-era game design and mechanics are your nostalgia sweet spot
You might NOT like this game if:
- You require interactive and involving storylines with your action
- Quick reaction times are just a fading memory to your aging physical vessel
- You need a deep and rewarding strategic metagame to give the action-based missions enough meaning
Holden has played 8+ hours of Brigador on his Windows 10 Alienware Desktop with Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-4460 CPU @ 3.20GHz, 8 GB Ram, 64-bit Operating system, x64 processor, and 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 745 graphics card.
A copy of the game was provided to eXplorminate by the developers at no cost for review purposes.