My demo at E3 2017 began with a class select screen, allowing me to choose from the four different characters, each with unique personalities and weapons. I picked Gracie, a Rosie the Riviter-esque bruiser rocking a double-barreled shotgun and a heavy-hitting pistol for a sidearm. While every member of the brigade plays different, the demo starts in the same place for all of them—the middle of the Egyptian mountains, crumbling ruins, and hidden treasure teeming on all sides.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, because almost as soon as the demo starts, zombies rise from the earth and make a beeline right for Gracie. It’s then that I get a chance to put her shotgun to the test, and while the game’s in early development, shooting still feels fun. The shotgun has the perfect amount of kick to make it enjoyable to shoot, and at close range, it’s more than enough to tear zombies to shreds.

It isn’t long until my breezy, easy plan of blasting away gets a wrench thrown into it by a new enemy – a massive, semi-mummified minotaur who looks like he could’ve walked straight out of a Ray Harryhausen creature feature. In fact, all of the beasties look like they could’ve been plucked from horror and fantasy pop culture staples, from Jason and the Argonauts-like undead warriors and evil mummies that call to mind Boris Karloff more than anything else.

And they’re all good fun to tear apart. Besides the shotgun and pistol, you can also use your urn-of-the-mill splash damage grenades, as well as special pickup weapons found throughout the level (I got a nice, pump-action shotgun). If that’s not enough, arenas are even packed with traps that you can activate with a well-placed gunshot, using them to decimate your opponents while saving on ammunition.

By the time the demo was at its end, everything was complete chaos. Armored zombies cleared the arena in a matter of seconds, mummies dealt heavy damage, and the zombies just wouldn’t stop coming. It’s here where the combat of Strange Brigade really shines, forcing hapless adventurers like myself to sprint and roll all across the map, desperately activating traps in my wake and chucking grenades like there’s no tomorrow. It’s pure, unbridled, chaotic bliss, and it only got even crazier when, without warning, a giant statue of Anubis began to descend upon me and the demo came to a close.

My time with Strange Brigade may have been brief, but it was a blast while it lasted, and I’ve got my eyes peeled for the finished product.

Strange Brigade was previewed at E3 2017.

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Perry Ruhland

Staff Writer

Filmmaker. Entertainment critic. Genre film aficionado. Has bad taste and hot takes.