Video Game / Iron Brigade
aka: Trenched

Turn No Man's Land into Real Man's Land!

Iron Brigade (formerly known as Trenched) is Double Fine's fourth downloadable game as part of their Amnesia Fortnights venture, changing the studio from making one large title every few years to making multiple small games in one year.

The year is 1926, and the world is being invaded by monsters made completely out of primitive television sets known as Monovisions or Tubes, which no conventional military has been able to defeat. The only force capable of facing them is the Mobile Trench Brigade, an elite squad of soldiers trained to use Mobile Trenches, which are quite literally World War One trenches slapped on a pair of robot legs, with a human soldier operating the whole thing from inside the trench.

It all began during World War One, when American soldier Frank Woodruff survives getting his legs crushed by a tank and is reassigned to a radio listening post in the Pacific to listen in on enemy radio transmissions. While there, he befriends Vladimir Farnsworth, another crippled soldier. While working, they listen in on an unknown signal, later dubbed the "Broadcast", that killed all who heard it except for Woodruff and Vlad. Instead, they gained supernatural genius.

Woodruff used his newly found genius to invent mobile robotic legs to help his fellow disabled veterans. Vlad used his gifts to invent the "Monovision", in an attempt to bring the world to the comfort of your home. Unfortunately, the end result was the horrors of the world coming straight to him (along with really crappy programming), which drove him to insanity. Vlad then created a race of mechanical monsters made entirely of television sets, which shared the name of Vlad's invention. Colonel Woodruff equips the mobile robotic legs he developed with weapons, and forms the Mobile Trench Brigade to fight his former friend's creations.

The game is a Spiritual Successor to Brutal Legend, with a slant towards Monday Night Combat. Rather than commanding free roaming units like a Real-Time Strategy game, the game combines action with Tower Defense. Each player has the ability to customize their Mobile Trench with over 200 different parts. The Trenches are divided into three types, Standard Trenches balancing weapons and turrets, Engineering Trenches with lighter weapons but more turret emplacements, or Assault Trenches with limited turrets but the greatest weapons capacity.

The game was originally published by Microsoft and released in 2011 for Xbox 360, then in 2012 for Microsoft Windows, bundled with Games for Windows Live in the latter case. On May 28, 2015, Double Fine got the IP rights the PC version of the game was switched from Games for Windows Live to Steamworks for matchmaking, squashing several Game Breaking Bugs in the process.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alternate History: Television is invented several decades early and it's evil.
  • A Commander Is You: The player can deploy defensive towers, like in a Tower Defense game.
  • Ambiguous Robots: The Tubes, which are built out of machine parts but have an otherwise very organic looking structure.
  • Artistic License Engineering: While the Trenches' schematics aren't available, one could guess that punching or kicking the controls shouldn't revive your Trench if it broke down.
  • Artistic License History: Not like anyone minds, though.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Trenches, before they were re-purposed as weapons, would appear to have been very ungainly as a prosthetic, being very bulky and adding at least 5 feet to the operator's height.
    • Gameplay-wise, Artillery Cannons. Single shot, arcing projectile, long reload, big explosion and high damage. Also, the Gungnir Sniper Cannon, which is single shot and takes much longer to reload than other Sniper Cannons, but has some of the highest damage in the game. Both can be made Simple Yet Awesome when combined with the Quickload ability and some aiming skill on the part of the player, or in the case of the "Mr. Pancakes", a MIRV launcher that not only drops a line of grenades along its arc, but a line of MAGNETIC grenades, which can be a bit of a Game Breaker when combined with the Quickload ability.
  • Beard of Evil: Vlad.
    • On the cover of the in-universe Mad Scientist magazine, one article is titled "Which Sinister Beard is Right for Me?"
    • In the DLC even the Bear has one.
  • Badass Mustache: Several.
  • Barrier Warrior: Jacobs, which project a shield on any nearby Tubes. Although, not on themselves or each other...
  • BFG: Any Artillery Cannon qualifies (especially "The King" and "Mr. Pancakes"), and even some Sniper Cannons too.
  • Big Bad Friend: Vladimir Farnsworth. The entire story revolves around him and the Big Good.
  • Brown Note: The "Broadcast". It killed everyone who heard it except for Vlad and Woodruff, who gained superhuman intellect instead.
  • Big Good: Commander Woodruff.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Blue enemies focus on attacking defense objectives. Teal enemies focus on attacking emplacements. Red enemies focus on attacking the Trench Marines.
    • Trench weapons also have this treatment, from White (regular), to Green (uncommon, is stronger and/or has a basic ability), to Blue (rare, is even stronger and/or has even better abilities), to Purple (very rare, but is also very powerful and/or has top-grade abilities). Red weapons are also available in the Rise of the Martian Bear campaign, which are even stronger.
  • Comes Great Responsibility
  • Cool Boat: The USS McKinley, a re-purposed aircraft carrier with a crapton of extra guns and legs!
  • Death Ray: Broadcasters, weaponized broadcasters which also have some gameplay elements reminiscent of flamethrowers.
  • Diesel Punk: Swimming in it. Everything is made of steel, consumes vast quantities on plentiful gasoline, belches smoke, and is incredibly overbuilt.
  • Downloadable Content: Rise of the Martian Bear, which provides a new campaign (set on Mars!) with new, stronger enemies and Trench equipment. Is included for free with the PC version.
  • Easy Logistics: The Trenches burn through five-thousand gallons of gasoline perk Trench per week. Good thing your supply is uninterrupted.
  • The Engineer: The player characters, all of whom can place turrets almost anywhere. Different trench chassis play the trope slightly differently, being able to deploy different turrets.
    • Engineering Trenches trade firepower for the ability to place a wider variety of turrets. They are also Fragile Speedsters, as they lack armor but move quickly.
  • Fighting Your Friend
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: Subtle, but while on the deck of the McKinnley, players can see vast number of bombers flying air cover above the ship in perfect formation.
  • Funny Foreigner: Josef Kowalski, a Polish trench marine, is sometimes played like that, complaining about his equipment and taunting Monovisions in a cheesy accent. Ditto for Claude Stanley, except his accent is that of a stereotypical Brit.
    Kowalski: "Polish gun would be ready by now!"
  • Genre-Busting
  • Giant Squid: A mechanical one serves as the Pacific campaign's boss battle.
  • Handicapped Badass: Both Colonel Woodruff and Vlad Farnsworth. Bonus points go to Woodruff, who commands the Mobile Trench Brigade from the comfort of an Iron Lung with robot arms for both typing and holding his cigar. Vlad's handicap? Prolonged exposure to the raw, unfiltered Broadcast has turned him into an infant with an adult's head (somehow without damaging his superhuman intellect).
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Breakers. Changes once they're hit with an explosive weapon, though they can be killed without using them.
  • Hold the Line: Every level, except the ones against bosses.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Mobile Trenches.
  • Indecisive Parody: It's not completely clear whether the game falls under Rated M for Manly or Testosterone Poisoning, at times obviously parodical in its extreme "manliness", but other times seeming to play it straight.
  • Mad Scientist: Vlad.
  • Mechanical Monster: The Monovisions are as much machine as creature, and more disturbing to look at than either would be alone.
  • Mission Control: Woodruff serves as this from his iron lung on-board the USS McKinley.
  • Mook Maker: Big Bertha.
  • More Dakka: A single Assault Trench can be outfitted with up to six machine guns, some of which have multiple barrels.
    • On top of that, it can be assisted by even more machine gun turrets.
  • Nice Hat: Not to Team Fortress 2 levels, but your character can wear many nice hats, including a sombrero, a fez, a welding mask, and Razputin's famous PSI-helmet and goggles.
  • No Export for You: The European version of the game was taken down within hours of its release due to copyright issues regarding the game's title in Portugal, which prompted an unusually radical solution (see Orwellian Retcon)
  • Old Media Are Evil: Taken to extremes, and played for laughs. Vlad invented television decades before it was invented in real life. Because of this early development, the horrors of the world coming to him, combined with the resulting programming being so primitive and crappy, drove him insane.
  • Orwellian Retcon: Due to EU copyright issues with the name Trenched, the game's name was changed in all territories to Iron Brigade.
    • There is a technical reason for the change affecting all regions: If the EU was the only region going by Iron Brigade and everywhere else was Trenched, EU players would be limited to multiplayer with only other EU players (an issue with games with two different names connecting over Xbox Live).
  • Pinball Projectile Sniper Cannons with the RICOCHET and RICOCHET+ can act like this.
    • The "Rise of the Martian Bear" DLC adds all sorts of oddball weapons, including RICOCHET Machine Guns (the "80-UNC 3 Indirect MG"), of which the flavor text says, "One would think that years of technological advances were involved in the creation of this weapon. In actuality, we just filled it with spring-loaded bullets, and somehow it worked."
  • Rated M for Manly: Double Fine was inspired by silly "manly man" magazines from The Forties and The Fifties. They use the magazine shown in this trope's page as source material!
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Woodruff and Farnsworth's inventions are spiritual opposites of each other. Woodruff's Humongous Mecha are intended to let disabled veterans walk again. Farnsworth's Monovision was intended to being the world to you instead.
  • Real Is Brown: Defied Trope.
  • Sand Worm: The Africa and Europe bosses.
  • Schizo Tech: Monsters made out of TV sets, trenches slapped on mech legs, and a gigantic aircraft carrier with legs that gets turned into a spaceship.
  • Sentry Gun: The player-deployed turrets.
  • Sequel Hook: Even after defeating Vlad, Woodruff states that the source and purpose of the "Broadcast" is unknown and that it may return.
    Woodruff: "I do know one thing, that we'll be ready for it."
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: In addition to shotguns for your Trench, your most basic turrets have shotguns.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Showrunner: Brad Muir.
  • Simple Yet Awesome: Purple quality weapons usually have incredibly useful effects as well as high damage, such as a fully automatic shotgun or a machine gun with exploding rounds. Good luck finding one, though.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Woodruff, hilariously, has an attachment on his iron lung meant specifically to hold his cigar.
    • The Marine also dons a cigar before repairing his trench, should it be downed.
    • Heck, the Mobile Trenches themselves have a built-in cigar humidor, just to make sure the pilot always has a supply in good condition.
  • Spiritual Successor: Double Fine likes to call the game "Trench Hounds."
  • Stealth Pun: "This one's for you, tube!"
  • Suicide Attack: The Blitzers' and Knobs' only form of attack, consisting of running/rolling to your location and blowing up in your face.
  • Taunt Button: While on the ship, the fire buttons (LT/RT for Xbox, L2/R2 for PS3) instead let your marine "salute". Depending on what kind of hat you're wearing, it can range from an actual military salute to various silly gestures, up to and including the hand gesture for Bobby Zilch's dance should you be wearing a specific helmet.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: They were shooting for this at least some of the time, but how often as opposed to straight Rated M for Manly can be hard to tell — see Indecisive Parody above.
  • Voice of the Legion: Vlad.
  • War Has Never Been So Much Fun
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Woodruff Jr.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Vlad.
  • Zerg Rush: The Blitzers and Knobs, who suicide rush players and turret emplacements respectively.

Alternative Title(s): Trenched