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Review: City of Brass

City of Brass is an action-adventure game from Uppercut Games, a team composed of senior Bioshock developers, which will be departing from early access and officially released on May 4th. Players will hack, slash, and whip through procedurally generated rooms and courtyards throughout an Arabian Nights inspired city with the hope of discovering a legendary treasure that was thought to be forgotten. This journey will require the dispersal of enemy spirits and overcoming numerous traps that are concealed throughout the environments while ensuring you reach your destination before time runs out.

An arsenal that consists of a whip and scimitar may at first appear restrictive and shallow, but will quickly become apparent that the whip’s versatility quickly defines the core gameplay mechanics. A whip is a weapon that is rarely given the spotlight as most attribute it alongside the weaker end of a weapon spectrum. City of Brass reverses this mindset and illustrates the creative and strategic importance it unleashes when properly utilized throughout the streets of your journey.

Your trusty whip can break through barricaded passages, trigger traps to pass unhindered, and retrieve objects such as lamps and pots that can then be thrown at enemies to cause them to stumble or burn as they approach. Other explosive objects can also be triggered by a quick lash causing massive damage to enemies within close proximity. Enemies can be stunned, tripped, and disarmed with the appropriate attack location of the whip, giving you an ample amount of time to thwart enemy aggression. Level progression will introduce new foes that will offer new challenges for the whip to overcome. Shield-bearing enemies offer a sturdy defense when attacking with a sword so the shield must first be struck with the whip to pull it aside, giving players an opportune moment to make their strike. Sorcerers will also cast spells in your direction which can be slashed by your whip to send the projectile on a different course.

A more difficult threat that is present in every corridor within the City of Brass is the incorporation of deadly traps. A successful engagement where no health points have been lost against multiple enemies can quickly become worthless if players do not pay attention and concentrate on the finer details of their surroundings or they will find themselves falling into concealed pits filled with spikes, walking into bear traps, or being struck by poisonous darts. Danger lurks around every corner and at times it can feel as if traps are too abundant, but there are two different means of controlling the amount of traps present.

Players will encounter genies throughout the levels who possess the means and goods of making your travels less dangerous. Their wares range from various gear such as armour, swords, and whips to replenishing health, disabling traps, and even summoning the spirits of sellswords to fight at your side. These items are only accessible if you have the correct amount of coin and some items also contain elemental characteristics such as enemies freezing upon being struck with a certain whip. Collecting treasure that is scattered throughout environments will greatly aid you in your travels and no corner should go overlooked in order to attain all the riches possible, but always keep an eye on how much time remains. Some benefits come with a large price point, so if your pockets are a little light you can resort to utilizing one of three wishes to the genie to gain access to the item of choice. These wishes can also be used to turn unfriendly genies who summon enemies or hurl fireballs to hinder your progress to your side who will then do the same when encountering enemies. However, with only three wishes to use, make sure they are not spent foolishly as you never know what awaits around the next corner, or in the next level. Maneuvering through the maze-like corridors can also seem like a daunting task, but thankfully there is an indication marker that leads you in the correct direction towards each level’s exit.

Each district concludes with a gatekeeper that needs to be thwarted in order to unlock the next level. They can initially cause confusion as you might be unsure what to do, but when in doubt rely on your trusty whip. Overcoming these bosses will also grant access to checkpoint portals upon starting the game, giving you the ability to start at a new district level which follows defeating a boss. It is also best suited to gather treasures and purchase any gear, health, and assistance that may be available from nearby genies as it will greatly reduce the stress of each boss encounter. The idea of having to start over from the first level after each death may sound disheartening, but The City of Brass’ experience is about trial and error and the path each player takes as they learn from previous failures.

Learning from previous mistakes is also very important because the levels are procedurally generated meaning that no two playthroughs will offer the exact same experience, giving players an undoubted amount of replayability to become successful and then to compete worldwide with the best time and score in the leaderboards. These generated levels ensure that the core mechanics are in place for players to easily manipulate the environments by running, jumping, and swinging towards the exit while battling spirits that have awoken within a cursed city.

Uppercut Games excels at offering a unique experience with City of Brass as players will rely heavily on the versatility of the whip to traverse environments and dispose of any lingering threats and the ability to select various parameters to individualize and cater the gaming experience and difficulty to their desired preference. Each trial offers new insights into how to approach and overcome obstacles while learning from previous mishaps and making their way to uncover hidden treasure.

You can follow me on Twitter at @DaveMolinski

[A copy of the game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]

City of Brass
9
City of Brass
The Good
  • Versatility of the whip
  • Cater the experience to your liking
  • Every playthrough is different
  • Exciting gameplay
  • Replayability
The Bad
  • Default amount of traps can be overwhelming
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