Hello, Nintendo fans, and welcome to a review of another Metroidvania. You'll be thrilled to know that this one is good, and if you enjoy the Metroidvania genre, you'll enjoy playing Blast Brigade. Alright, cheers.
What?? You want more?!? Oh, god. Okay. It's just that there are so many of these games and so little more to say about them. We speak the truth, though, when we deem Blast Brigade to be good. It is a strong effort in all respects and we will endeavour to expand on that forthwith. That means now. Stop looking at this paragraph, it's in the next one.
In Blast Brigade, you initially take control of one Jeff Jefferson, who seems like a non-infringing version of Deadpool, minus the metahumour. Well, most of the metahumour — Jeff is a wisecracker and there's a fun breeziness at play throughout the game which makes the proceedings more enjoyable. The comedy here isn't overplayed, because the focus is resolutely on the gameplay.
Thankfully, said gameplay makes a good impression, with a twin-stick sort of set-up for the shooting, à la Bleed and its sequel. The controls are responsive, the enemies are reactive and, quite frankly, it just feels good to shoot them thanks to the strong feedback and smooth 60fps gameplay. It's all rather reminiscent of the ever-popular Guacamelee in its visuals and animations, though the moment-to-moment gameplay is more like — whisper it — Metroid Dread, though with a faintly methodical pace. It's the free aiming that makes the game so challenging -. you can shoot anywhere, but so can enemies, and they're rather keen to lace the surroundings with dangerous traps and surfaces.
Despite the aforementioned breezy tone, then, Blast Brigade can be rather difficult. Enemies don't let up and they're placed to trip you up — we were somewhat surprised to discover ourselves in an area absolutely littered with spiked floors, walls and ceilings within the first half an hour, also populated by a clutch of explosive-spitting giant flowers. It's rough, especially since death means you drop money and return to the last hammock you rested in (hammocks helpfully acting as save points).
Difficulty is mitigated a touch by the PDA you acquire, allowing you to augment your character with special abilities, such as a coin magnet and additional invincibility time on a hit; that's surprisingly useful. The trick is that the PDA batteries you find can only power one module at a time, so you can't just enable them all and become an unstoppable god.
You rescue more members of the Blast Brigade as you play through the game, who essentially act as keys to 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 latch onto them. It's a little formulaic in that respect, but it's a formula that works.
The hammocks that act as the "bonfires" (yes, we made a Dark Souls comparison) can be quite far away from one another, which is a source of some frustration; the "boss runs" can be rather lengthy, but the bosses themselves are extremely well-designed and fun to fight. Difficult, but not unfair — though you'll probably die at least a couple of times to each one.
Blast Brigade's world delivers what Metroidvania fans want; an expansive, but hostile space full of secrets and collectables. That it does so with more of an identity than most is a good thing, but the fact is that it's effectively an exercise in box-ticking. There's nothing wrong with that; when you tick the "make game fun" box, you're onto a winner. But there's nothing new here whatsoever. And that's fine — what's here may be old, but it's rather 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 it's done well there can be a sense of ennui. We felt that ennui with Blast Brigade at times, which is unfair because it excels at everything it is trying to do. It's just that the framework it's working from is a little tired, which — again — isn't the game's fault per se, but has to 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 terrific fun), and its visuals pop. But it can only go so far.
Blast Brigade is a difficult game to review. It's a lot of fun and we enjoyed our 20 or so hours with it, mopping up secrets and collectables. We can't recommend it enough if you've still got a hankering for Metroidvanias, but those exhausted with the formula aren't going to find any major deviations here. Perhaps we would feel differently had the game come out a couple of years ago, but now? Blast Brigade is still a terrific Metroidvania, and one of the best we've played outside of the very tippy-top tier (Symphony of the Night, et al). Get it straight away if you even slightly think you will enjoy it, because you almost certainly will. It has the same affection packed into it as the likes of Kaze and the Wild Masks, a real love letter to Metroidvanias. Truly exceptional it isn't, but Blast Brigade remains a great time if you're not suffering from genre fatigue.
Huh, didn't even know this was a thing. Now I do and I like what I see.
Sounds like the reviewer needs a break from this genre of game.
My backlog already has a lot of good metroidvanias so I'll add this one to my wishlist because it looks somewhat interesting, but I may or may not get to it anytime soon.
I'm a little less excited than I would be because the art style (although not bad) looks a little dull compared to many other games in this genre; I wish the character design in particular was a little less generic.
The hell is ennui? Why not just say deja vu, which people actually know of.
@SteamEngenius both the authors and the readers on this website are from various countries and regions and some english words are simply more common/well-known some places than others. That said, I feel like the author was grasping for words just a little because he wanted to give the game a positive review but was clearly also a bit frustrated with it. 😆
Ignoring the issue of word choice, I appreciate this type of subtlety in reviews.
@SteamEngenius Not Deja Vu. Ennui is a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. I suppose you could say listlessness or dissatisfaction instead, but ennui has some more context.
@TheShopkeeper Ah okay, I was just assuming it was either like deja vu or weird anime type term. Guess someone just wanted to make use of their word a day calendar then, using it twice like that.
Just bought the game Friday, got about 10 or so hours into it and this review, as they usually are, is spot on. This game so far is fantastic. It’s not “tippy-top tier” (love that description) but it’s way up there. If you dig metroidvanias, you’ll really enjoy this.
Now I just want to play Wild Arms
is "ennui" an uncommon word now? that's...tragic really, especially considering you can just google the word...
sounds on par with something like the Iconoclasts
I personally can't get enough of these non-linear platformers, as long as they have well designed characters and a reasonably lengthy campaign with depth. This one seems to tick all the right boxes for me.
See s like it is awesome unless your burnt out on metroidvania which in case you wouldn't buy anyways. These games are in my top 3 of favorite genres, and I absolutely love exploring new ones!
Blasphemous was one of best games I've ever played and if I can find more that try that hard please give them to me
@somebread no it's fairly common parlance where I am. (The UK, not France)
A 9 at least for me. Cracking Metroidvania. Monster Boy meets Dread!! Challenging bosses (but not "Hollow Knight challenging") with that rewarding feeling of satisfaction after conquering them. Really loved it.
Who cares about formulaic? Things usually become formulaic in the first place simply because they work.
However, it's a shame they had to ruin what otherwise looks like a great game with a stupid twin-stick shooting mechanic.
Playing this now, about 15 or so hours in and it’s amazing. Has a nice challenge to it but you learn from your mistakes quickly. Feels like Dread + Guacamelee with the comedy of a Saturday morning cartoon.
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