If you get high off destruction, prepare to meet your newest addiction.
Brigador is an isometric real-time tactical game created by a four-man indie studio known as Stellar Jockeys. It’s a game best described as a love letter to gamers who love blowing things up. It’s got giant mechas, destructible environments, large explosions, swarms of enemies, and tons of deliciously powerful weaponry to choose from. Practically anything and everything you see can be destroyed, from the walls and buildings to the flowers you see lining the road. It even has a money counter on the top right to keep track of just how much cash you’re burning alongside your destruction. It’s a game that’s simple to learn, but hard to master. And it proves to be deliciously fun for anyone whose had a bad day and just needs to rampage around a city to unwind.
Graphics wise, at face value Brigador doesn’t look like much. Everything looks very flat and there’s a strange reddish tinge to everything you see in front of you. The truth is that if you can get past the strange coloring and stop to smell the roses before you crush them beneath your giant metallic boots, you’ll notice that everything in the environment has had a high level of detail and attention put to it. From the way the rail guns were designed to look large and intimidating, down to the minute details of how many windows are actually on a building, nothing seems to have really escaped the excruciating eye to detail of whoever was behind the design of the game. It almost makes you regret crushing your environment into a giant wasteland of rubble. Almost. I personally wasn’t able to get past the red lighting in order for me to really get into how pretty the game can be, however that doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t there.
Gameplay is incredibly straight forward, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Before you start each mission you get to pick which mecha you want to run with and what weapons it should be outfitted with. Each mecha has its own strengths and weaknesses, as you would imagine, and can suit different play styles. Whether you’re the type of player to pick a slow, powerhouse mecha or a fast but fragile one you’ll find something that appeals to your tastes. The missions are pretty standard and each come with three different ways of winning so you can pick which route looks easier based on how the mission is going thus far. The rest is just a matter of how much you can destroy without getting turned into a pile of metal yourself.
The difficulty is not in the destroying, but the surviving.
Not only is it incredibly easy to die in Brigador, there is also a limited amount of ammo you can feasibly obtain within a mission. While there are towers in which you can easily reload infinitely, the later levels surrounds said towers with enemies. To top it off those same reload stations are capable of being destroyed, as well. This means that one poorly aimed missile or inappropriately timed foot stomp could spell the end of your ammo reserves for that entire mission, leaving you to either stomp your enemies and hope they drop some for you, or start over. While it seems like you could forgo ammo all together and just foot stomp your way to victory, many enemies and buildings act as bombs and can easily damage you/kill you if you decide to destroy them in close combat. There is also the tiny little detail I haven’t mentioned yet, which is that Brigador has to be defeated in one sitting. If you decide to close it out for the day the next time you open it up you’ll be made to start the game over from the very first level. So if you’re in it to win it, make sure you slot out a few hours to really give this game the time it’s due. It’s these small details that add up to make Brigador a much more hardcore experience than what you may expect to find.
Aside from the aforementioned, I found everything else about Brigador to be pretty standard. The controls felt weird at first, but it was pretty easy to get used to them after the first play through. The environments are detailed, but become somewhat repetitive and boring after a while. Really they’re more of an object for the player to feel good blowing up, not so much to ogle at. There doesn’t seem to be much of a story in the game, aside from what can be found on weapons and mech descriptions. While the soundtrack was surprisingly well made it reminded me of music you would hear in arcade games. While managing to add much to the atmosphere with its heavy and dark tones, I just wasn’t into what I was listening. That could just be a fault of my personal tastes, though. Over all Brigador was a game that I had fun playing, but probably won’t revisit in the near future. It seems very much like a one-off deal for those of us who aren’t into mechs and explosions as heavily as other parts of the gaming community. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun while it lasted, though!
This has been Roderick and thank you for taking the time to read this review on BitCultures. Looking forward to writing more for you in the future! Until then stay cool, beautiful people.