Blast Brigade Preview: Unloading A Full Clip Of Nostalgia Onto Steam Early Access
The Metroidvania genre seems to be more popular than ever lately, especially among indie developers. With that said, it takes a special twist to stand out from the crowded pack. For example, the recently released ENDER LILLIES: Quietus of the Knights spiced things up by allowing you to amass a ghostly entourage to obtain powerful spirit skills. While Unbound: Worlds Apart instead allowed players to manipulate the very fabric of reality to navigate its rich fantasy world. Blast Brigade vs. The Evil Legion of Dr. Cread takes a more blunt-force approach. Featuring the kind of punchy, trigger-happy gunplay you’d expect from a Metal Slug or Contra title along with a vibrant cartoon art style, it’s an action-packed adventure that makes a strong first impression.
Developed by Allods Team Arcade, Blast Brigade will unload on Steam Early Access sometime this month. However, the developer recently gave me a chance to get a taste of the first hour of gameplay. Now, after blasting a massive war mech to bits and collecting a small arsenal of weapons and abilities, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with what the game has to offer.
Blast Bridgade Is A Metroidvania For The G.I. Joe Generation
Right from the moment Blast Brigade begins, it’s clear the developers have their hearts planted firmly in the 1980s. From the opening shot that focuses on a pair of Ellen Ripley and Snake Plisken bobbleheads on the dash of the Blast Brigade’s flying fortress to protagonist Jeffrey J. Jefferson’s stereotypical action movie star swagger, there’s no question the game has its nostalgia blaster aimed squarely at the hearts of the G.I. Joe generation. As a member of that particular target demo, that’s something I can appreciate wholeheartedly.
The game opens up with the Brigade’s airship being blown to bits above the island of Dr. Cread, a Supervillain with an army of gun-toting henchmen and war machines under his command. While the full game will include multiple playable characters, the demo only allowed us to control Jeffrey, a hard-drinking, gun-toting commando whose appetite for destruction is only outmatched by his bravado. He’s brash, obnoxious, and hopped up on good, old-fashioned American exceptionalism. In other words, he’s exactly the kind of hero you’d expect from an 80s popcorn flick.
The first thing you’ll notice when playing Blast Brigade is just how snappy everything feels. The gunplay and platforming are tight and responsive. And using the right analog stick to aim in 360 degrees freely is precise. So whether you’re jumping perilous spike traps or pumping a giant jellyfish monster full of lead, everything is crisp and effortless.
Thunder In Paradise
The demo allows you to explore two distinct biomes as you search for a way into Dr. Cread’s underground lair. The first area is a sun-soaked lagoon where you’ll master the basics of combat and exploration. It’s in this seaside setting that you’ll learn to trade bullets with dim-witted troops, fight a towering sea creature, and unlock your first sub-weapon: the grenade launcher. This handy tool doesn’t just pack a powerful punch against baddies. You can also use it to blast barricaded doors, giving you access to shortcuts and otherwise inaccessible areas.
The second area is a dense jungle. Here, you’ll face fearsome flora and fauna and get access to a shotgun that can shatter enemies to smithereens, as well as a grappling hook that you can use to get around the environment. I really enjoyed making away both of these locales and exploring every nook and cranny for hidden items and pathways. They’re all really well designed, and treasure chests packed with goodies are scattered everywhere, enticing you to dig just a little further.
In the jungle, you’ll rescue the brigade’s engineer who gives you a watch PDA. This handy tool can be used to equip various modules to augment your playstyle and grant you assorted bonuses. For example, one module essentially turns you into a loot magnet by attracting far-away items dropped from enemies. Other modules do things like increasing your clip size or double the amount of time you’re invulnerable after taking damage. However, each upgrade requires a certain amount of battery power to activate, so you can only use so many of them at once.
Who’s The Boss
When it comes to upgrading your skills and exploring the island, Blast Brigade is…well…a blast. However, the boss fights were hands down my favorite part of the game so far. The demo featured three of them: a heavily-armed war mech, a screen-filling jellyfish, and a mysterious secret agent armed with a laser pistol and a grappling hook. Each of these encounters was an exercise in pattern memorization and timing, so you’ll need to pay close attention and look for brief openings to heal— it takes a few seconds to sip your health tonic—if you want to stay in one piece.
Whether it was rushing to avoid an onslaught of missiles raining from the sky from Dr. Cread’s robot or using my horizontal dash skill to dance around rotating columns of laser beams, these boss fights made great use of the weapons and abilities the game puts at your fingertips. I genuinely can’t wait to see how the rest of these encounters shape up when the full game becomes available.
Blast Brigade Shoots To Thrill
Overall, my early taste of Blast Brigade was short but incredibly sweet. From the moment the demo ended, I found myself eager to dive back in to see just how the game’s three other operatives played. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer for the full release. If you’re looking for a Metroidvania game with punchy gunplay, satisfying boss fights, and a vibrant visual style, look no further. Blast Brigade delivers all of this and more.
Blast Brigade vs. The Evil Legion of Dr. Cread blasts its way onto Steam Early Access later this year. A full release is planned for consoles in 2022. Will you be checking the game out? Sound off in the comments and let us know.