Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread Review (Switch eShop)
Hello, Nintendo fans, and welcome to a review of another Metroidvania. You’ll be glad to know that this one is Well, and if you love the Metroidvania genre, you’ll love playing Blast Brigade. Alright, well done.
What?? You want After?!? Oh my God. OK. It’s just that there are so many of these games and so little to say about them. We’re telling the truth, though, when we consider Blast Brigade good. This is a major effort in every way and we will work to expand it immediately. It means now. Stop looking at this paragraph, it’s in the next one.
In Blast Brigade, you first take control of a certain Jeff Jefferson, who appears to be a non-infringing version of Deadpool, minus the metahumor. Well, more metahumor – Jeff is a wisecracker and there is a fun breeze in play throughout the game that makes the proceedings more enjoyable. The comedy is not overplayed here, as the focus is firmly on the gameplay.
Luckily, this gameplay makes a good impression, with a kind of twin-stick setup for shooting, to the Bleed and its sequel. Controls are responsive, enemies are responsive, and frankly, it feels good to shoot them thanks to the powerful feedback and smooth 60fps gameplay. It’s all rather reminiscent of the ever-popular Guacamelee in its visuals and animations, though the instant gameplay is more – whisper it – Metroid Dread, albeit with a slightly methodical pacing. It’s the free aiming that makes the game so difficult -. you can shoot anywhere, but so can enemies, and they’re pretty eager to drown out the surroundings with dangerous traps and surfaces.
Despite the aforementioned airy tone, Blast Brigade can therefore be quite challenging. Enemies don’t let go and they’re placed to trip you up – we were somewhat surprised to find ourselves in an area absolutely littered with spiked floors, walls and ceilings in the first half hour, also populated by ‘a clutch of explosive- spitting giant flowers. It’s difficult, especially since dying means you drop money and return to the last hammock you slept in (the hammocks usefully serving as save points).
The difficulty is mitigated by the PDA you acquire, allowing you to augment your character with special abilities, such as a coin magnet and extra invincibility time on one hit; it’s surprisingly helpful. The trick is that the PDA batteries you find can only power one module at a time, so you can’t activate them all and become an unstoppable god.
You save more Blast Brigade members as you play through the game, which essentially act as keys for various gimmick locks you’ll discover, such as the extremely prominent gold hooks that you can’t interact with until you unlock Shura, who is able to use her grappling hook to cling to it. It’s a bit formulaic in that regard, but it’s a formula that works.
Hammocks that act as “bonfires” (yes, we did a Dark Souls comparison) can be quite far apart, which is frustrating; the “boss runs” can be quite long, but the bosses themselves are extremely well designed and fun to fight. Difficult, but not unfair – although you will probably die at least twice each.
The world of Blast Brigade offers what Metroidvania fans want; a vast but hostile space full of secrets and collectibles. That he does it with more identity than most is a good thing, but the thing is, it’s actually a ticking exercise. There’s nothing wrong with that; when you check the “make the game fun” box, you’re onto a winner. But there is nothing new here. And that’s fine – what’s here may be old, but it’s pretty brilliantly executed.
There’s the conundrum with games like Blast Brigade and Metroidvanias in general; the pieces of the puzzle are so often the same that even when done right, there can be a sense of boredom. We’ve felt this boredom at times with Blast Brigade, which is unfair because it excels at everything it tries to do. It’s just that the framework he works from is a bit tiredness, which – again – is not the game’s fault per se, but should be noted. Blast Brigade does what it can to make its gameplay fresh, its story and dialogue enjoyable to listen to (the voice acting is great fun), and its visuals pop. But it can only go so far.
Blast Brigade is a tough game to review. It’s great fun and we enjoyed our 20 or so hours with it, mopping up secrets and collectibles. We can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re still craving Metroidvanias, but those who are formula-worn won’t find any major deviations here. Maybe we would feel differently if the game was released a few years ago, but now? Blast Brigade is still a terrific Metroidvania, and one of the best we’ve played outside of the top tier (symphony of the night, et al). Get it right away if you even slightly think you’ll enjoy it, because you almost certainly will. It contains the same affection as Kaze and the Wild Masks, a true love letter to Metroidvanias. Truly exceptional it’s not, but Blast Brigade sticks around for a good while if you don’t suffer from genre fatigue.