Developer: Rebellion Publisher: Rebellion Platform(s): PS4, XB1, PC Season Pass provided for review purposes
Strange Brigade was one of our surprise hits of the summer, earning a commendable 9/10 and giving us another game to pester our friends to buy so we can play together. Shockingly, it worked, but now we’re going to have to convince them to get the season pass too, if Isle of the Dead is anything to go by.
Isle of the Dead is the first level in the Thrice Damned campaign that’s being added to Strange Brigade, bringing with it a mixture of the old and new. After playing through the level, Isle of the Dead feels like more of the same as opposed to a grand revolution of the game’s core tenets, which is fine. More of the same sounds good to us.
This new level also launched alongside the American Aviatrix Pack, which adds a new character in the form of Tessie Caldwell and some brand new weapons and amulet abilities. We’ll get around to those later, but let’s talk about the level first.
The Strange Brigade receive word of some mystic shenanigans occurring on a remote island in the middle of nowhere, despite locking away Seteki at the end of the main game. Turns out, the Brigade actually messed things up even worse, and they’ll have to reform the Shield of Bes if they want to stop the world from being overrun by the undead.
The island and jungle environments of Isle of the Dead do make a nice change from the Egyptian levels. There’s only so much sand a man can see in one lifetime. The pirates also make a return here, and we even see the return of a certain pirate legend that just can’t quite live up to the legend in a cameo that got a few laughs.
There’s a few new puzzle types introduced that, while nothing taxing, do make the level stand out from the main game. One puzzle in particular, which tasks you with matching symbols together to open the way forward, does require good communication between the entire Brigade, or just a half decent memory if you’re playing solo.
That said, the level feels more linear than some of the levels in the main campaign. Though there’s plenty of collectibles and secret puzzles to be found, very few of them seem to be out of the way. Still, the canopic jars should still give players a run for their money. Rebellion did a good job of hiding those little bastards.
As for the American Aviatrix pack, Tessie is perhaps one of the best characters on the roster. Her increased health is always handy, but being able to regenerate grenades faster makes her infinitely handy in a fight, especially when she’s using the Glacier Bombs that are also introduced in her pack. Those bombs can stun most enemies, even bosses, making them a vital part of any loadout.
It is a bit concerning that the best weapons available in the game come from DLC, including the Glacier Bombs and the guns that came with this pack and the previous pack, but they don’t affect the game too much. It might make things easier, sure, but it’s not like you’ve been given an instant win tool. Plus, it’s PvE. That AI always has it coming.
So it’s a successful launch for the Strange Brigade Season Pass then, with the Thrice Damned Campaign off to a great start and new character Tessie Caldwell becoming a fantastic addition to the Brigade’s ranks. Fingers crossed that Rebellion can continue this run of form with the next few content drops.