STAFF REVIEW of Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread (Xbox One)

Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread Box art Have you been craving a light hearted, comedy infused 2D action adventure metroidvania game lately? Do you miss the days of actions movies with the overly macho and overconfident hero that wields a big gun and shoots every bad guy in sight? If you’ve answered yes, then you might want to take a look at Blast Brigade vs. The Evil Legion of Dr. Cread, developed by Allods Team Arcade, a comic inspired platforming twin stick shooter with plenty of challenge and much more length than I was initially expecting as you try and save the world.

You begin your adventure as Jeff Jefferson, a Blast Brigade secret agent that is tasked with stopping the evil Dr. Cread within his secret lair. Jeff has some funny one liners that might make you smirk now and then, and while there is a large attempt to inject some humor into the experience, it never resulted me having to snort laugh. Thankfully the core focus is on its gameplay, which is challenging yet satisfying.

While there is an overarching narrative, which you could probably guess from the game title itself, the campaign actually surprised me for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is fully voice acted when it comes to the cutscenes, and quite decently as well. I thought I would simply be Mr. Jefferson for a quick four or five hour journey, but I was wrong. You can expect to play a few different characters, each with their own special ability that allows you to access new areas or traversing around the section of the map you’re currently in. Lastly, you can expect anywhere from 15-25 hours of gameplay, depending on how much you want to explore for secrets and how challenging you find some of the rooms and bosses.

Jeff can shoot and jump in the beginning, but that’s about it. You’ll unlock some new skills and abilities as you progress, such as dashing, not only for dodging but to traverse gaps as well, throwing grenades and unlocking secondary weapons. Search hard enough and you’ll also be able to upgrade certain skills and add to your total heart pool as well, increasing your maximum health, something you’ll surely want when you face off against Dr. Cread’s challenging bosses.

As you traverse Dr. Cread’s island trying to find a way to get into his lair you’ll explore a number of different biomes, each with their own art style, mood and backgrounds. Jeff isn’t the only hero in this tale though, as you’ll meet a cast of playable characters along the way which will help you explore each area more thoroughly than previous. For example, you can’t reach many areas until you unlock Shura, as she comes with a grapple hook, allowing you to reach whole new areas and will be absolutely needed in certain boss fights. While there’s some banter between the cast, the gameplay will change slightly based on who you’re using, this is also how its Metroidvania roots start to appear as you might need to go back to a very early area to now reach somewhere new for a collectable.

Checkpoints are indicated by hammocks that Jeff and the others can rest in, not only to be used as where you’ll appear when you inevitably die, but also to refill your health and energy completely if needed. You’re going to die, a lot, so using these checkpoint hammocks strategically will be quite helpful. While they aren’t normally too far spread out, there’s a few times where I had to fight through a handful of rooms to get to the next. This meant that when I inevitably died at some point, I’d have to fight my way through the same rooms once again to try and reach the next checkpoint. This was frustrating when a hammock wasn’t beside a boss room, so I would have to traverse a room or two just to reattempt the boss I just died to for the sixth time.

Don’t let the cute and colorful comic book art style fool you, there’s quite a bit of challenge here early on. Some rooms are filled with enemies, some you can’t escape until you kill everything, and others have tons of spikes on the floors and walls. Each enemy will attack you relentlessly once you’ve been spotted or close by, and it can be annoying to have to try and deal with soldiers shooting at you, bats attacking you from above and plants lobbing poison at you from afar. When you die you drop a portion of the money you’ve earned along the way gathered from killing enemies and reappear at your last used hammock. Thankfully if you can reclaim your dropped money, if you can get back to where you died of course.

While Blast Brigade has large and open-like rooms you need to get through, your map will show how each is connected and where the doorways are. While it may seem large and open, it’s generally quite linear, especially in the first half until you start to get the abilities you need like the Grapple Hook to even get to certain portions of rooms. Each area may be made up of a dozen or so rooms, usually having one spot where you can park your motorcycle. This is Blast Brigade’s version of fast travel, allowing you to quickly zip from one area to the next if you’ve unlocked these nodes.

You control your character with the Left Stick and aim with the Right, much like a twin-stick shooter. This is all well and good, but having to jump means you need to take your thumb off the Right Stick to hit the button. This only became an issue a few times in chaotic battles or where I was trying to rapidly progress, but you eventually learn to take things a bit slower instead of rushing.

You have primary and secondary weapons. Your first primary weapon is Jeff’s trusty Assault Rifle, complete with unlimited ammo, but you will need to reload the clip and be in a certain range to hit enemies. Not firing for a few moments will automatically refill your ammo of your primary, as will emptying the clip. Secondary weapons, when unlocked, have limited ammo but are generally much more powerful, best saved for when actually needed like against bosses or annoying enemies. Your first secondary weapon will be Jeff’s shotgun, eventually getting a sniper rifle and more. Ammo for these drop randomly from enemies, so always be on the lookout to refill.

Where Blast Brigade shines best is during its handful of epic boss fights. The first couple aren’t too challenging, but they eventually become much more menacing and involved. Not only will you need to be quick with your reflexes, but you’ll have to study their patterns and find the best times to avoid, dodge and hide from specific attacks before going on the offensive. Some of these boss fights might make you think a bit more, like why are those grapple hooks in specific places, or is that attack actually avoidable? These bosses are usually huge and was easily the most memorable part of the whole experience. Just hope that you don’t die numerous times to these and have to make the trek back to attempt once again.

Manage to explore the rooms enough and you might come across some blueprints and upgrades. You’ll acquire a PDA during your adventure, allowing you to choose from a number of different upgrades you find. A helpful one for me early on was the passive ability to have money and ammo be attracted to me, so I only needed to get close to them to gather instead of having to run over them to pick them up. There’s quite a number of different abilities that can make a huge difference in your gameplay, but you’ll need to choose wisely, as you can’t enable them all.

The world of Blast Brigade is quite colorful and bright, even when deep underground in a lair or jail area. The animation is smooth and I never had any performance hiccups on an Xbox Series X. The writing is cheesy at times with terrible one-liners, but that’s by design, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a few moments of laughter from some stupid jokes Jeff made. Having all of the dialogue voiced was an unexpected but welcome treat as well.

Solid controls, fun gameplay and much longer than I initially expected, Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread certainly has value for those that are looking for a decent Metroidvania to sink their time into. The gameplay can be quite challenging at times, and although I wish there was some more difficulty choices, I still enjoyed my time with Jeff and the others trying to stop the evil Dr. Cread.

**Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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