Slated to arrive on all major VR headsets later this month, The Light Brigade is well positioned to make a name among the top VR roguelikes, as it follows most visibly in the footsteps of bowshooter In Death (2018) in all the right ways. In our hands-on, we got to see just how Light Brigade is setting itself apart though with a strong focus on an array of realistic WWII-era weapons and magical upgrades galore.
Coming February 22nd, The Light Brigade is the latest VR title from Funktronic Labs, the team behind Fujii (2019) and Cosmic Trip (2017). With a few hours of Quest 2 gameplay under my belt, I can say that The Light Brigade is certainly something to watch out for when it lands on PSVR 2, PSVR, Quest 2, and SteamVR headsets in the next two weeks.
Although The Light Brigade isn’t related to the award-winning roguelike bowshooter—In Death was developed by Sólfar Studios and Superbright—there are more than a few comparisons here to make. The Light Brigade similarly features a high degree of visual polish, well-realized enemy classes, and a fun array of weapons that make you really second guess stepping out from behind cover.
It’s also culty as all hell, as you battle it out as an acolyte warrior of light on a quest to pry the world from the grasps of the (totally not Nazi-inspired) Obsidian Forces.
What the hell does that all mean? I can’t say just yet, but it all ends up feeling like a cool mix of World War-inspired trench warfare mixed in with a heaping dose of medieval-style religious quackery and magic.
The Light Brigade tosses a smorgasbord of realistic weapons your way, all of which require a deft hand at manually reloading in the middle of a firefight. You’ll get your hands on rifles and pistols, all of which are upgradeable. Besides the Mauser C96 (aka ‘Broomhandle Mauser’), most everything is what you’d consider WWII standard stuff, including Gewehr 43, Sturmgewehr 44, Colt 1911, M3 submachine gun (aka ‘grease gun’), and Nambu Pistol Model 14. Guns have a virtual weight to them too, so you won’t be waggling around a 10-pound rifle or running too fast either when you’re supporting the gun with your non-dominant hand.
Each gun has three upgradeable power levels, which also let you tack on things like red dot scopes and powerful trinkets that allow you to charge and execute special shots. There are also so mini potato masher-style grenades, health kits, and interesting tools like deployable decoys which draw enemy fire away from you.
You’ll have to grind it out to level up each gun, which usually means sticking with the corresponding class long enough to generate points to sink into upgrades. The game’s actual difficulty seems to scale relative to your weapon’s current upgrade level, giving you more and different baddies to encounter as you head back in after your inevitable death—although that’s a bit of speculation on my side. There are two user-selectable difficulty levels though should things get too tough, ‘Arcade’ and ‘Realistic’.
Levels start out fairly small in size, although all of them encourage exploration thanks to the important items that can be found around every corner, such as the game’s tarot card upgrades that you’ll find in glittering chests. These buffs stay in effect for your entire run, and are automatically applied when you choose one of the three presented to you from each chest.
My typical level run goes more or less like this: kill every enemy in the level, comb the entire level again for lootable chests and other goodies, and then summarily step into a trap, like the sort of couter-weighted log traps Arnold Schwarzenegger tangoed with in the original Predator (1987), or even a simple bear trap.
Once I’ve dusted off my stupidity, it’s time to head to the level gate, which requires you to bring your hands together in prayer to activate—a really cool and immersive touch. There are level bosses, although I only ever made it to the first, which I won’t spoil for your here.
Meanwhile, I’ll be playing a lot more of The Light Brigade’s and reserving my thoughts on game mechanics and immersion for the full review later this month. Still, it’s safe to say I really enjoyed the entire vibe.
One thing to note is that Funktronic Labs included a good number of comfort modes, including smooth turn, variable snap-turn, smooth locomotion, and teleportation. Currently, the game’s inventory system includes a hip-mounted holster, which can be difficult to access whilst seated, making standing gameplay recommended at the time of this writing. We’ll have more info in our deep dive review when the game launches on February 22nd.
In the meantime, you can wishlist the game on Steam (PC VR), pre-order on PSVR 2 and PSVR, and pre-order on Quest 2—priced at $25. Also, in case you missed out on the announce trailer, take a gander below: