A number of titles have come from the dissolution of BioShock studio Irrational Games. The Deep End Games gave us Perception. The Molasses Flood gave us The Flame in the Flood. And now Uppercut Games has given us City of Brass. While it is a first-person title with a penchant for action like BioShock, there’s more here than meets the eye.
In City of Brass, you pick a character who must explore an Arabian city to find treasure. But be sure to reach the exit before time runs out and the deadly dervish gets you. Seems simple enough, right? Unfortunately, this place you are exploring is chock full of traps and undead enemies who don’t take too kindly to your thieving ways.
There is a rather good diversity of enemies you come across in City of Brass. The beginning areas will have ghoulish creatures who try to ram into you upon first sight, torsos that will crawl in close to blow sand in your face, and more. While not a horror game by any means, these creatures can get rather unnerving especially if they get the drop on you.
Part of that ability for them to get the drop on you can be blamed on the field of view. Your main weapon and whip take up a fairly good chunk of real estate. This isn’t a game-breaker, but it may take some time to adjust your eyes away from them as you try to concentrate on the perils around you.
Speaking of perils, there are traps galore to watch out for! Whether it be spikes on the floor, sandblasting from walls, or evil genies summoning nonstop enemies. Luckily, these traps are deadly to everyone. Leading a persistent ghoul to their death is one of the more satisfying moments in City of Brass. And since each run is procedurally generated, you will consistently find new ways to do so.
Whip It Good
Despite the tough challenges you will face, your character is no slouch either. There are two thief-like choices at the beginning who are equipped with a sword and whip. You will also unlock more characters as you play the game and earn ranks. The Soldier and Brigand are pretty useful for their long-range damage potential.
Since City of Brass is a rogue-lite, the gameplay loop revolves around dying, learning, and getting closer to unlocking that next character. You will also upgrade the various items you come across in each playthrough. These range from weapons, armor, passive abilities, and more, found either naturally in a level or through purchasing them from the friendly genies you come across.
There are also three wishes you can use to have a genie give you a better selection of wares, or even turn a hostile genie on your side (highly recommended). The wish effects last for the entire run, so you’re encouraged to apply them to whatever you might find useful and figure out the best way you like to play.
The real star of the show, however, is your whip. This is used in a variety of ways. When used on enemies, you generally have the options to stun, disarm, or trip them up. You can also whip an enemy towards you to start a combo using your main weapon. That last move is especially useful to move enemies into traps for an easy kill. Outside of combat, the whip can also be used to launch yourself off hooks to get to otherwise out-of-reach areas. It honestly made me wish there was a first-person Castlevania game with these mechanics.
Kick Some Brass
City of Brass is an admittedly tough game. Despite that, it makes you want to keep trying over and over again because of what you learn. The trial-and-error aspect is mitigated also by the procedurally generated levels. Plus it feels great when you have a good run going and make it just a bit further than you did before. Pick yourself back up, wipe off that sand, and crack that whip. You won’t regret it.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast – Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.