What?? You want than?!? Oh my God. Okay. It’s just that there are so many of these games and so little to say about them. However, we speak the truth when we think Blast Brigade is good. It’s a strong effort in every way, and we’ll try to expand it even further in every way. That means now. Don’t watch this anymore, it’s on the next one.
In Blast Brigade, you’ll initially take control of a Jeff Jefferson, who seems like a no-frills version of Deadpool, minus the metahumour. Good, most of of metahumour – Jeff is a wise player and has a good amount of fun playing throughout the game, which makes the process all the more enjoyable. The humor here is not overdone, because the focus is on the gameplay.
Thankfully, the game says to make a good impression, with a parallel setup for shooting, ah Bleed and its sequel. The controls are responsive, enemies are responsive, and it’s quite fun to shoot them thanks to the strong feedback and smooth 60fps gameplay. All quite reminiscent of what was once popular Guacamelee in its visuals and animations, although the moment-to-moment gameplay is more like – whisper it – Metroid Dread, albeit at a methodically faint pace. It’s the free aim that makes the game so challenging -. you can shoot anywhere, but so do the enemies, and they’re pretty much like tearing up their surroundings with traps and dangerous surfaces.
Despite the aforementioned soothing tone, Blast Brigade can be quite challenging. Enemies don’t give up and they’re set to attack you – we were a bit surprised to find ourselves in an area completely littered with spiky floors, walls and ceilings within the first half hour, also covered with a barrage of dynamite – spit the huge flowers. It’s tough, especially since death means you drop the money and head back to the last hammock you rested in (the hammocks act as savings points).
Difficulty is slightly reduced by the PDA you get, which allows you to enhance your character’s special abilities, such as coin magnets, and add invincibility on hit; that’s surprisingly helpful. The trick is that the PDA battery you find can only power one module at a time, so you can’t just turn on all of them and be an unstoppable god.
You rescue more members of Blast Brigade as you play through the game, who essentially serve as keys to many of the gimmicky locks you’ll discover, such as the extreme golden hooks Highlights that you can’t interact with until you unlock the Shura, which can use your grappling hook to latch onto them. In that respect, it’s a bit formulaic, but it’s an effective one.
The hammocks act like a ‘fire pit’ (yes, we made a Dark souls comparison) can be quite far apart, which is a source of some frustration; The “running boss” can be quite lengthy, but the bosses themselves are extremely well designed and fun to fight. Hard, but not unfair – though you’ll probably die at least a few times for each.
The world of Blast Brigade delivers what Metroidvania fans want; a vast, but hostile, space full of secrets and collectibles. That it does so with more identities than most is a good thing, but the fact that it’s effective is an exercise in ticking the box. There’s nothing wrong with that; when you tick the box “make the game fun”, you became the winner. But there’s nothing new here. And that’s fine – what’s here may be old, but it’s pretty brilliantly executed.
There’s a conundrum with games like Blast Brigade and Metroidvanias in general; The pieces of a puzzle are often so similar that even when it’s done well can still feel the same. We felt it with Blast Brigade at times, which is unfair because it’s superior at everything it’s trying to do. It’s just the framework it works since it’s a bit tired, which – again – is not the game’s fault, but must be noted. Blast Brigade does what it can to make its gameplay fresh, its story and dialogue fun to listen to (the dubbing is fun), and its visuals stand out. But it can only go so far.
Blast Brigade is a difficult game to judge. It was fun and we enjoyed about 20 hours with it, uncovering secrets and collectibles. We couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re still hungry for Metroidvanias, but recipe exhausted people won’t find any major deviations here. Perhaps we would have felt differently if the game had come out a few years ago, but now? Blast Brigade is still a great Metroidvania and one of the best we’ve played outside of the very engaging level (Symphony of the Night, et al). Get it right away if you even slightly think you’ll like it, because you almost certainly will. It has the same sentiment packed into it as things like Kaze and the Wild MaskA real love letter to Metroidvanias. Really special it’s not, but Blast Brigade is still a great time if you’re not tired of the genre.