When Strange Brigade arrived back in late August, it’s fair to say we enjoyed it a lot. With clever puzzles, engaging combat and stunning levels, there was more than enough to shout about for Rebellion’s latest adventure. Now though, it’s time to expand on those firm foundations with The Thrice Damned Part 1: Isle of the Dead – the first of the planned DLC adventures for none other than… the Strange Brigade.
Isle of the Dead is the start of a new multi-part campaign that sees 1-4 players step into the shoes of Britain’s finest Secret Service agents, the Strange Brigade, allowing them to venture into new lands on the Isle of the Dead. Having been informed of mysterious going-ons on the isles of a remote island, they are deployed to find out just what’s going on, but upon arrival it doesn’t take long to realise something is seriously awry and that their previous hard work in apprehending and defeating Queen Seteki has only caused further issues. You see, now undead pirates run rampant on the shores – and the only way to defeat them is to find, collect and piece together the scattered remains of a mystical shield.
The first thing to note about the Isle of the Dead DLC is the exciting new location. In this new adventure players are no longer tied to the Egyptian style levels that we’ve become accustomed to, but rather the local beach and jungle of the island that surrounds them. As you would expect, the new locale brings a new, rather refreshing, visual aesthetic to things and although it may just be the one level at present, the visual detail seen throughout is on par with the quality of that in the base game; fine details are carved into each area with bright colours bursting from each new asset.
As for the gameplay and Isle of the Dead does bring a slightly different feel with a more closed-in, linear area than that of the vast and much more open environments found within the rest of the game. This makes it easier for those looking for the usually well-hidden collectibles – minus the rather obvious cats that is – with a much more condensed experience. Combat on the other hand feels a lot like more of the same, so if you’re looking to enjoy more of Strange Brigade, don’t expect much in the way of anything new and exciting in terms of combat.
Should it be the puzzle sections that you enjoy though then you’re in for a treat as a new memory focused puzzle has been included to shake up the otherwise ‘same-old’ feel that starts to permeate through the background.
Whilst the Isle of the Dead level may simply be more of the same with some extra enemies and a new location thrown in to give a little variation, it’s not the only thing that arrives as part of the DLC. Joining the new campaign mission are two new Horde based maps and a new character to jump in with.
The maps are only really an extra option in an otherwise similar experience, but the new character – Tessie Caldwell – brings a new look and something a little different when it comes to character choice. With her Infernal Firestorm amulet allowing for a Dragon Ball Z style fireball attack that burns anything within its radius, and her Colbeck Wildfire SMG and Glacier Bombs also packing a serious punch, it’s fair to say Tessie is easily one of the more powerful characters available within the game. Of course she could be nerfed at any point but at present this is by far one of the easiest characters to run through Strange Brigade with, thanks to her overpowering special attack that will scrape you through several life or death situations without even the slightest struggle. Her pistol works as a pistol should too, but with the special skills brought about by amulets, and the SMG mowing down enemies at every point in between, the pistol simply feels unnecessary in comparison.
If you have enjoyed the overall experience found in Strange Brigade then it’s probably safe to say that you’ll enjoy the Isle of the Dead DLC too. Whilst it may be more of the same, that isn’t necessarily bad and it certainly maintains the high levels of quality found in the base game. Should you be looking for something a bit different then you’d probably want to avoid this one, but those in need of an extra hour or so of gameplay, then there’s no reason not to jump in with what seems to be a strong start to the Season Pass.