Pray Brother! For we battle not against normal men, but against monsters shaped by darkness, trying to capture our souls and destroy our wills!
The Light Brigade has balls. It has great big balls. Its balls are so big that developers Funktronic have set the review embargo to one week before launch! It’s a gutsy move, for sure, and definitely shows their confidence in the game. Well, they were right to feel confident, because The Light Brigade is fantastic.
Okay. So now, let’s see how much I can tell you about it without spoiling any of it for you.
Into the Valley of Death
Like its now only rival on Quest, In Death: Unchained, The Light Brigade is a roguelike game offering a great atmosphere, solid graphics, and great sound design. Unlike In Death: Unchained – you don’t have a bow and arrow, you have guns. Several kinds of guns. Fun guns. Great sounding guns. Guns that go bam, guns that go kabam, and guns that go thwoop! Did I mention that the guns are fun? They are. The guns are fun, they handle really well, and they sound great.
So here’s the thing, humanity has been brought down into the darkness by the forces of evil! You are humanity’s only hope, Connor, and you have to travel through the battlegrounds, killing the bad guys, defeating their bosses, freeing other Light Brigadiers, and unlocking upgrades and perks as you play, because upgrades and perks are COOL.
You’re not named Connor, by the way, that was just a joke, Sarah.
Flashed all their Sabres Bare
The Light Brigade does a lot of things right. A whole bunch of things. There’s rightness galore here, and I’ll tell you about it right now. It’s not without a couple of small faults, but more on those later. None of them are showstoppers. Anyway, on to the good stuff:
The gameplay in The Light Brigade is superb. The weapon handling is excellent, and the reloading is streamlined and satisfying. The game provides both smooth locomotion and teleport locomotion for quicker traversal, and, unlike in In Death Unchained, you have six different character classes to play. Each character class is equipped with its own main weapon, dramatically changing how you go about taking them down, what kind of range you’re shooting from, and how much you need to resort to using cover.
Along the way, you’ll find containers to open and jars to break, usually rewarding you with souls, coins, ammo, grenades, or weapon attachments. You’ll also find glowing chests that give you a choice of tarot cards, each unlocking certain stackable perks. These tarot perks can be remarkably effective.
With some good weapons attachments and some clever tarot perks, you can become a nigh-unstoppable killing machine.
All the World Wondered
There’s a good variety of environments on display here, and the levels themselves and the enemy variety and their starting locations are procedurally generated, so you always get a somewhat different playthrough every time you play. So far, so roguelike.
I must commend the game on the atmospheric art design. Sure, some of it, the fogginess, for example, is there to help ye poor Quest handle the draw distances without too much popup, etc. – but it works well with the mood of the game, enhancing the ominous tone that the game sets in place from the very start when you approach the mysterious Last Temple and are beckoned by the figure known only as ‘Mother’ to pray with her before setting off to save the world from the baddies.
The art direction is generally top-notch. It plays to the Quest’s strengths, looks good, and creates excellent immersion.
One of the first things that impressed me about The Light Brigade was the sound design. Everything you do makes a satisfying sound that makes everything in the game feel palpable.
The game is also rich in little graphical flourishes that show off the care and attention put into it, from the tarot cards with their 2.5D holographic presentation to the particle effects that explode when you shatter a soul container to heal yourself and increase your maximum health.
The Jaws of Death
In case you haven’t realized by now, I was blown away by The Light Brigade, right from the get-go, and have only been stepping away from it lately to play co-op sessions of Drop Dead: The Cabin with Pete while he prepares his review of that game.
Overall, I’ve played around 12 hours of the game so far, during that time, I’ve managed to unlock all the classes, complete two full runs, and unlocked quite a few upgrades. You’ll be glad to know that throughout that time, the game still managed to surprise me on occasion, throwing a few new enemy types and variants into the mix, and a couple of GASP! moments just to keep me on my toes.
I was also pleased that the bosses all required different strategies to beat. One of the few disappointments in In Death: Unchained was that all the bosses could be defeated with spam attacks. This is not the case in The Light Brigade.
One extra nice feature and sometimes absent in roguelike games is that you can continue a run across different gaming sessions. It’ll autosave between levels, and you can quit the game at any time and come back to start whichever level you were on, mid-run.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, and to add some value to the mix, there is an endless run mode, but I won’t tell you where to find it.
Horse and Hero Fell
There’s not much to complain about with The Light Brigade, but there are a couple of niggles. The load times between levels could be improved, they usually load up in 7–11 seconds, but a confirmed glitch sometimes caused this time to double, leading to potentially frustrating pauses between levels. Having said that, I’ve experienced this far less often lately, so for all I know, it’s already been fixed.
Another minor complaint is that sometimes you need your controllers to be so physically close to reload your pistols that they end up bumping against each other. There’s also a minor graphical glitch in one of the later levels where the floor isn’t quite set perfectly and, if you’re in the wrong spot, ends up aligned with your chest.
But these are minor issues and did not at all detract from my enjoyment of the game. I’m just noting them so that you’re aware of them, and to inform Funktronic about them so that they can patch them up as soon as possible.
I almost forgot my biggest complaint, although the game isn’t small, I wanted more of it!
Back from the Mouth of Hell
The Light Brigade is easily one of the best games I’ve played on Quest, and an easy game to recommend to fans of roguelike games and shooters alike. With atmospheric visuals and excellent sound design, a good variety of levels, and boss battles that are engaging, it quickly raises itself to the higher echelons of Quest games. Color me impressed.