Disclaimer: I purchased my own copy of Brigador and have not regretted it one bit.

There’s something to be said for the 80’s revival movement which is currently seeping into pop culture. The saturated neon colour pallets, the hard synth music and the grimy, futurist aesthetic all elicit very specific emotions in me and when you apply all those things to something like video games with big stompy robots, it has the potential to reach new heights of radical previously unknown to man. Enter Brigador, a game planted firmly in a setting which utilises all of the things I’ve just described quite liberally and is all the better for it.

Earth 21XX, where man has conquered much of the Solar System. “Great leader is dead” and you’re a mercenary who has been hired by a group seeking to gain some control in the chaos that has erupted since his passing. That’s pretty much all you get told up front but there is a lot of lore to read through. You actually can’t even get at most of it unless you’ve been playing well enough to earn good cash from your missions. With that cash you can unlock the lore if you wish or go straight for new pilots, vehicles and missions to play through. They put the reading on the last 2 pages of the Acquisitions menu which I think makes sense. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably just want to make your things more shooty and read about it all later.

I actually feel bad about stomping on cars a lot of the time. But not all the time.

I actually feel bad about stomping on cars a lot of the time. But not all the time.

There are some interesting mechanics at play in this game. Firstly each set of vehicles controls a little differently. The shift between a tank, anti-gravity tank and a walker is noticeable but not unmanageable between missions which is good because there’s a preset list of vehicles to use for each one and they vary quite a bit. I do recommend clearing each mission with all the vehicles available to you in the story mode though because they ease you into the different control styles quite well. Also, do the fucking tutorials. There are things that I didn’t get after playing for a good 5 hours until I went back and played through them again. There is a tute for each vehicle type which also explains their various features, like how the spacebar will cause robots to stomp immediately in front of them but for a tank will initiate a turbo boost that will let you plow through walls and other vehicles alike. Did I mention that everything is destructable? Every tree, bollard, car, streetlight and building is able to be turned into a smokey stain on the earth. You can use this to your advantage too. Lure a bunch of enemies to one side of a building, loop around the other side of it and providing you have a big enough gun, blow a hole in it and assault the enemies on the other side. Or you could bait them into following you near a fuel station. Hit it with a well placed round to take them out in the subsequent explosion. I’d recommend not shooting it until you’re clear yourself of course. Positioning is really valuable in this game and it’s great when you learn how to use it to the fullest.

 

So long, Great Leader!

So long, Great Leader!

Over the course of your play time you’ll be tasked with seemingly rudimentary tasks, raze a specific set of structures, eliminate a particular group of enemies, but don’t let their simplicity fool you. As I mentioned before, each mission has a different set of vehicles available and each vehicle will require a different approach most of the time. I found it best to plough through missions with the biggest thing available just to get the lay of the land, then try out the smaller, more fragile vehicles which require better positioning and use of stealth. There are a couple of ways you can actually be stealthy. There’s a “predator” like camouflage that you can activate which is one of the four defensive measures available. It’s important to consider these measures for each of the story missions because if you don’t have the firepower to kill spotters outright then you’ll need to get out of sight quickly to avoid alarms being raised. If an alarm is raised, you’d better make yourself scarce. Every enemy on the map now knows where you are. Unless you’ve knocked out the comms tower on the level already. It’s also more than likely that heavy barricades have now risen out of the ground to halt your progress towards the objectives. Unless you’ve knocked out the power stations that allow them to rise. Again, if you have a big fuck off mech or tank with big fuck off guns, none of this matters because it only takes an extra stomp or charge to get through the barricades but you’ll need to clear out the enemies who will no doubt be circling you when you’ve tripped an alarm.

See those big orange fences around that yellow thing? Yeah, you aren’t getting in there in a hurry.

See those big orange fences around that yellow thing? Yeah, you aren’t getting in there in a hurry.

Being flanked or attacked from the rear is generally bad news as there is less armour on the rear of most vehicles, so sometimes retreating backwards is the best course of action if you’ve found yourself outgunned. Again, this only highlights the importance of awareness and positioning which feeds into why I like to play big and dumb first to learn the mission then change to a more vulnerable vehicle after that.

This is all well and good until you’ve reached one of the last missions where you only have a choice of small vehicles. And no defensive measures. And not enough firepower to actually take out any of the massive hover tanks with high powered lasers that follow you as soon as the level starts because there is a spotter sitting on your head apparently. I might be making this mission sound bad but it’s actually super fun. There is a lone fuel station in the centre and I foolishly thought I could use that to wipe out the pursuing forces by luring them over it but that didn’t work and I was roasted with microwaves almost immediately after. This is the only mission where you really have to hit and run. You need to drive through the small, in fact smallest, play area hit a single building and get back out again. I haven’t mentioned this before but each mission requires you to make it to an exit point once you’ve cleared one of the available objectives but of course in this particular mission, you have to make it back through the gauntlet you’ve just run. I really enjoyed this mission because it was so different to all of the others and really shows how flexible the game actually is. There is talk of modding support and a map maker being released to players and I’m looking forward to both of those things wholeheartedly.

I only just made it through this one and as you may have guessed, this tower of metallic shit isn’t that easy to hide. Alarms were raised.

I only just made it through this one and as you may have guessed, this tower of metallic shit isn’t that easy to hide. Alarms were raised.

After you’ve finished the story mode there’s a Freelance option where you can run through a whole different set of missions with a completely customised vehicle once you’ve unlocked more than just the defaults by spending your earnings. I honestly don’t know how long it would take to finish all of the mission in here because there are many of them and you have to clear each set of missions in succession using the same vehicle unlike the story mode. That means you need to be a lot more careful with your health because any damage you take in the mission you’ve just cleared will carry over into the next and there’s no way to get repairs. You will need to play smart and use the overcharge feature with your forcefield to soak up as much damage as you can. Dodging also works but good luck with that if you choose something big and slow.

One thing I hope the potential mods don’t screw around with is the overall aesthetic. Which should probably be written as A E S T H E T I C. It’s beautiful. The lighting is fantastic right down to the panicked swing of the torches belonging to yellow coated civilians running away from you. The buildings in the city areas are packed with bright neons reminding me of anime Tokyo. The industrial areas look rustic as fuck but still make sense. The parking lots filled with cars outside of the complexes honestly made me feel bad when I had to wade through them to make an escape or something similar, knowing I had just ruined some guys day by stomping his car into the dirt (it’s more than likely I had already killed him while he was working in one of the buildings I had razed ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). The soundtrack is equally great, performed and written by Makeup and Vanity Set. It comes with the special edition and is well worth a listen if you like artists such as Lazerhawk and Power Glove. It really helps cement the game into the setting they’ve created for it. If you need more lore on top of rad tunes, there’s an audiobook that comes in the same edition and also a regular book on Amazon.

G O L F  C L U B

G O L F  C L U B

I really can’t recommend this game enough. A serious contender for my game of the year and it has completely flown under the radar which saddens me. The devs are really responsive and have even made changes to the control scheme to get more people playing it as the sim style controls seem to be offputting for some (read: casuals). I hope they keep developing this in general because I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Since writing the bulk of this article October rolled around and owners of the game have been given some Halloween content on top of the already lengthy story mode and freelance mission sets. New pilots, new missions and a daylight setting. Not long until the map editor now I hope…


The Good: Pretty much everything. Really solid gameplay mechanics, good customisation, fun missions and heaps of content.

The Bad: I feel like there was a missed opportunity in the level design as they are all on flat planes but I guess there has to be some concessions with a small team and no money.

Final Verdict: My personal game of the year.

  • Gameplay
  • Visual Design
  • Sound
  • Replay
  • Personal Enjoyment
4.8
  • Gameplay
  • Visual Design
  • Sound
  • Replay
  • Personal Enjoyment
4.8