Trenched, or Iron Brigade as the original title was changed to (it’s still called Trenched in the US until November 30th, when it releases in Europe), is yet another stylized title in the portfolio of developer Double Fine Games. It takes the third person shooter genre and tilts it on its ear, adding in strong tower defense elements as your mechanized mobile armor, called a trench, stands guard against waves of various televised monstrosities, the pawns of two altered geniuses locked in battle with the fate of the world on the line. So is their arcade offering a blast, or is Iron Brigade shooting blanks?
The story is about two WWI veterans, a wheelchair bound soldier named Frank Woodruff and a scientist named Vladimir Farnsworth, receiving incredible intelligence from the mysterious broadcast that killed any other listeners. Frank used his newfound genius to build walking war mechs so that even the crippled can still serve while Vladimir created Monovision – an alternative to television that entertained many until they started brainwashing those watching it. The Monovisions grew into a mechanized army who staged a worldwide invasion, with Fred and his Trenches, of which you are a pilot of, as the Earth’s last defense.
With everything from miniguns and grenade launchers to artillery cannons able to be fitted on your trench and automated shotguns, mine layers and mortars able to be chosen as your turrets, there’s plenty of variation to your mechanical carnage over the different fields of battle you’ll come across.
Before each mission the player is given recommendations on their load out, which prevents falling into a rut and using the same guns each time. The customization options are rich in choice of arsenal but a little lacking when it comes to different Trench models, with the best weapons only available for slow assault models, the best turrets are only for the light engineering ones, andthe middle road standard types able to carry different types of turrets and guns, but lacking the best of each.
In addition, because every game with customization needs it, your character will unlock and collect hats which perform different salutes while on deck, ranging from a pair of cool sunglasses to Raz’s helmet from Psychonauts.
The gameplay itself varies depending on your load out, sometimes seeming more tower defense as you let your automated underlings do all the work while you manage your defenses while other times you’re running around the battlefield frantically lobbing explosives and firing indiscriminately at the flying, crawling and rolling baddies attempting to destroy you and your base.
Offering up to four player online co-op, there’s plenty of fun to be had even if playing alone in this highly stylized shooter. After beating a few missions, that oh-so-good feeling of “just one more” starts showing up, that addiction to fun kicking in keeps enjoyment high even past the end credits.
This game signifies what has made Double Fine a cherished studio in the hearts of many a gamer: Shining bright with creativity and charm, cleverly written and most importantly it’s fun. If you’re into mech games or are a general fan of this developer’s other works, this game’s probably for you.
out of 10
- Writing and art scream 1940’s style and 1950’s sci-fi
- Fast, addictive action that’s a blast to play alone or with friends
- Good customization system with tons of guns
- Not enough customization options when it comes to Trench chassis
- Dialogue feels recycled, only entertaining until about halfway through the campaign