Monday 14 February 2022

Chaos Brigade Review (Steam)

Written By Thomas G.J. Sharpe

Finally, a game which demonstrates green in a such a xenomorphic hue as 1994’s defining gaming moment Pickle Wars. Chaos Brigade is a nifty, but clunky, little game that has quite an effective take on the reiterative rogue-lite formula. Dolled up in homey, chunky pixel-art, you control one character at a time from a motley squad of space-mercs aiming to cleanse wayward spaceships of alien infestations. Kill the aliens, don’t damage the ship, and that’s all there is to it. There are five characters, each acting as a “life”, who once dead are dead. They have vaguely different performing stats, but to be honest, they all felt about the same in play.

The levels seem to be procedurally generated, with door lock system “rooms” and heal kit modules, and the like, and interestingly, destructible terrain. Destroy a block, it takes from your money (cringingly called “bitcoin”) and forms a little fire obstacle. This pushes you to not spray your weapon all over the shop. Aliens reproduce or evolve as time goes on, becoming more deadly, so there is a degree of mutability and development that the levels go through. This is reminiscent of the explosive (if repetitive) Broforce, except for the fact that you can way more easily make a level impassable in Chaos Brigade.

I started to think of Chaos Brigade a little like Broforce married with the unbelievably underrated Duskers. I then wished that the solo developer (props, indeed) had taken more of a slant to the latter. In Duskers, a beautifully satisfying strategy to rid the xenomorph presence on a vessel would be to flush the wee buggers into space by opening an exterior hull door. I wondered if the destructible element was the real opportunity in Chaos Brigade, wherein I would like to make holes and then escape the impending vacuum of a corridor, while the aliens are sucked out. Something like that, anyway. I feel this is a response to me feeling that the runnin’ n’ gunnin’ wasn’t that fun… nin’. The weapons lack a heft at this stage, and the character movement is a little slippy on the flat, and a bit hard to judge on the jumps.

In short, the environmental elements and fun enemies in Chaos Brigade (not to mention the pretty cool music), is where it is currently working. The character differentiation (outside of special skill) and general movement feel undercooked. Given some more time in the oven, and some tweaking here and there, you have a nice, characterful action-platform romp. Just not quite yet.

Overall 6/10

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