Reverence for Retro: Brigador Early Access Look

I must confess that Brigador is a game I’ve had my eye on for quite some time now, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to do the Early Access sneak peek for Comics Gaming Magazine. From the first time I stumbled upon what was then known as Matador, I knew it would be something special.

And special it is.

There has been no shortage of games attempting to cash in on the nostalgia-rich market of 80’s and early 90’s sci-fi. There’s a whole generation of us now with disposable income and a great fondness for the post-Terminator era of sci-fi. You know the stuff I’m talking about: Universal Soldier, Cyborg, Soldier. I’m sure some of you have already fabricated a token story of genetically engineered super soldiers in action sequences set to a neon laser lightshow and an epic, brooding Synthwave soundtrack. Right? Right.

brigador insert 1Blood Dragon, the standalone DLC for Far Cry 3, was the first game I really remember testing these waters- bringing equal measures of stark parody and great affection— but the floodgates have since opened. So why bring all this up? Simple: Brigador isn’t a cash-in on nostalgia. It doesn’t feel like a game that’s been made to latch on to a fleeting market. It’s the real deal, like it was sent forward in time, without any attempt at irony or pandering—and it’s f*@$#ng awesome.

We’re a jaded bunch, games journalists, and we often focus far too much on the technical merits of games, seeing them as disposable achievements rather than items of value and desire. Brigador is fun in a way that I’ve lost the words to describe. It makes me happy; giddy even. It makes me pine for my childhood, and at the same time it transports me right back to that four-year-old boy sitting on the floor in front of his NES playing Jackal or Contra. It is to action games what Axiom Verge is to Metroidvanias; not a copy, but the purest expression of the source material, tailor-made for this moment, right now.

And that’s to say nothing of the gameplay, which is a wonderful blend of action and strategy, with each mission being a puzzle unto itself that must be approached with the tools at hand. It’s very reminiscent of Doom in this regard, whereby the action is just a test of skill on top of the underlying strategy and problem solving required to find an effective route through a map. When I first started playing, only Free Play mode was available, allowing players to choose a chassis and armaments to bring into various maps. Playing around with the various vehicles, crafts, and walkers, as well as the different weapon systems and their behaviours and shot arcs makes for some very interesting gameplay, but it did leave me craving a campaign in place of the sandbox.

SEE ALSO:  Cosmic DJ Goes Into Early Access, Features Corgis in Space

The frequent updates have recently introduced the first campaign mission featuring a specific walker and weapon loadout on a particular map. It’s here where Brigador really shines. Instead of brute forcing a mission by selecting a favourable loadout, you’re now burdened with a sub-optimal loadout and an overwhelming number of enemies. Now, instead of running around blapping vehicles and stomping on infantry, everything becomes a challenge—and every victory becomes rewarding.

While it’s too early to deduce what the value and purpose of things like earned currency in missions will be, it leads me to suspect the game will take an approach to progression similar to that of Armored Core, and that’s just fine by me. Between the Battletech meets Mad Max vehicle design and the iconic Infantry-style gameplay, I have high hopes for Brigador—particularly if it sees a story of the same calibre as those incredible visuals. And damn would it be cool if it ever got multiplayer.

From the pixelated 2.5/3D renderings, the isometric camera angle and the oranges, reds and purples accenting the high-contrast colour palette, to the Battletech inspired aesthetics and the bewitchingly immersive soundtrack, Brigador is a game that I love like no other. Unlike most games, which I quantify by how satisfying they are, Brigador is F-U-N, and even in its current state of development, I can’t recommend it highly enough.