Well, that’s certainly a mouthful. The title does, however, give you a pretty clear idea of what Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread is all about. It’s a classic tale of good vs evil. A band of somewhat stereotyped heroes up against an unhinged supervillain complete with his own island base. To say it doesn’t take itself too seriously is something of an understatement.
The action is packaged in a colourful and idyllic (above ground anyway) visual style which may give off the impression at first that this is a pretty straightforward game. The majority of character interactions are voice acted too, giving a real feeling of personality to them all, even if they are something of a cliche. It can be likened most to an interactive comic book, if that comic book was a greatest hits of 1980’s action movies.
Before long it becomes clear that Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread isn’t all plain sailing. In fact, at times it can be downright tricky. After being shot down whilst hot on the heels of Dr. Cread, you soon discover his island is a maze packed full of dangers. The game world is split into themed zones which are made up of interconnecting biomes.
There are several branching paths, many of which are inaccessible until a later point in the game. This will require lots of backtracking to fully explore each area, a classic hallmark of the Metroidvania genre. There are loads of secrets to find too, often hidden behind some scenery which gives off certain telltale signs. Your map is really handy, marking off areas once you have found all its secrets, as well as clearly outlining the world as you explore it.
The main man, B.L.A.S.T. agent Jeff Jefferson, is the game’s protagonist and the first character you play as. Throughout the game you will recruit others to your cause, and each has their own special skill set too. These include grappling onto hooks, powering movable platforms and even teleporting, which then of course allows you to explore more of Dr. Cread’s island.
There’s plenty of platforming to be done, which gets quite difficult when several different abilities are required to move forward. You can swap between each character seamlessly at any time in order to make use of them. Otherwise you’ll be constantly locked in combat against a variety of enemies with different firing and movement patterns. You can defend yourself with both a primary and secondary weapon (which is more powerful but has limited ammo) and, you guessed it, more can be unlocked later in the game.
Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread has plenty of ideas that are already pretty well established in the genre, but work well regardless. The levels are well designed, and you’ll constantly be making mental notes of areas you’ll need to revisit at a later date armed with the correct ability. You’ll also stumble across hammocks which allow you to save and replenish your stats. This is also where you will snap back to if you die.
Unfortunately this means there is a lot of treading the same path repeatedly, which can become a little repetitive. In certain areas it feels like save points could have been better distributed to avoid this. Your chopper motorcycle will allow you to fast travel between different regions, but it’s hit and miss as to how much battling you will need to do to find your way back to where you were killed.
Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread certainly enabled me to scratch that itch to explore, and collect all sorts of items in the process. There are plenty to find, such as fragments of energy and health cells, skill modules and even mysterious items whose use is not immediately obvious. Some will even require you to solve some pretty advanced puzzles to acquire them too.
You can customise your loadout via your PDA, which houses your map, skill tree, weapons and items collected. Certain items can be purchased from the shop, which is located in your beach settlement that will expand and develop as you play. This is your base of operations for the battle against Dr. Cread and his evil army.
Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread is billed as having 20+ hours of gameplay, which I didn’t believe at first. However, there’s a sprawling labyrinth of a world to explore which when coupled with the numerous secrets to discover, certainly racks up the hours.
What also contributes to the longevity of the game is the fact that you will die. A lot. The often punishing difficulty can feel unfair at times, whilst remaining perfectly manageable at others. Boss battles are a regular occurrence and something of a grind, thanks to big, chunky health bars and the ability for them to soak up bullets like a sponge. You will need to study and learn your opponent’s moves before you succeed, then dodge and shoot your way to victory. On the plus side, you’ll notice a clear improvement on every try until you succeed. Whether it’s boss battles, enemy ambushes or desperately trying to survive until you find the next save point, your timing, reactions and patience are certainly tested in Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread.
Unfortunately there are some issues with the controls which I sometimes found to respond poorly. The gameplay demands precision timing but actions such as wall jumping and grappling are a bit of a nightmare to get right at times, which caused a good few deaths that may or may not have resulted in several expletives being uttered.
In truth, I ended up forming a complex relationship with Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread. At times it becomes incredibly frustrating to play, but I’ve found that I’ve been unable to stop. It feels a bit like a trade-off, such as putting up with a hangover as a result of enjoying the night before.
Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread has plenty of hidden depths, despite the fact the journey is something of a bumpy one. If you can see past the occasional gripe, there’s an engaging adventure here that is difficult to put down.
Blast Brigade Vs the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread is on the Xbox Store