City of Brass REVIEW
Thanks to Stride PR for providing GWW with a review code on PC.
City of Brass released on May 4th for $19.99 on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. A team of senior BioShock developers came together to make a game only indies (and Nintendo) seem to make: a passion project. These projects are identified by their attention to detail, unique worlds, and often unique gameplay. City of Brass is a fun FPS that is full of life. It draws inspiration from The Arabian Nights – City of Brass is a location in those tales. I see that as well some elements of the original BioShock, the 2003 reboot of Prince of Persia, and Dark Messiah: Might & Magic. These are all games that I view positively, so City of Brass is set up for a similar path right out of the gate. I was surprised to see City of Brass is actually a roguelike. After a brief tutorial that teaches you how to swing and climb around the world, you’re thrust into the first level on the brass island. These are procedurally generated worlds full of loot…and skeletons. Lots of skeletons, actually. Runes allow you to modify each run, but in doing so you lose the ability to participate in posting to the leaderboard, which tracks the total score for each run. There are 12 total levels, with a boss at the end of each. Although the game is fun, inspired, and reminiscent of several great games, I feel a dedicated single-player campaign would take it to the next level.
During the tutorial, you learn the setting of this world. You’re a thief seeking treasure on an island filled with cursed pirates (skeletons). Your initial goal is to find the center of the city, where genies have been imprisoned, which is how the curse began. The City of Brass is from The Arabian Nights, which I am familiar with as someone with Syrian heritage. Effectively, the City of Brass is where the power to capture genies is held. But on their journey, ad group of men fight skeletons – former soldiers that were turned to brass because of their greed for treasure. The entire city was lost to famine – this is the world you fight in. There are deadly traps, combustible braziers, and hooks to swing around.
Presentation and Gameplay
The game’s installed files total fewer than 5 GB. And within that package are beautiful textures and a fun aesthetic. On my dual-core Razer Blade Stealth with a GTX 1080 running through an eGPU, I’m getting 120+ FPS at 1440p with all settings on maximum. I think most gamers won’t have an issue running the PC (Steam) build on GPUs going back a generation or two. The visuals themselves are sort of cartoonish – think of The Might Quest for Epic Loot or Paladins. Underneath it all is Unreal Engine 4.
Regardless of the platform, the gameplay loop is straightforward: equip blessings (optional), avoid traps, leverage wishes, and traps, kill skeletons, reach the city center. This is a really satisfying loop. Although, the foundation is there for a campaign, which I think would be a blast. Uppercut can do something special with the assets in a fixed environment and the Arabian Nights story to support them. Perhaps an FPS with RPG elements. My imagination takes me to Dark Messiah: Might & Magic. A game that was ahead of it’s time.
Combat could use some work. I’d love to see timed dodging and some crowd control capabilities. For now, in version 1.0, you’re equipped with a sword and whip. The tandem are fun to use. The whip can stun some enemies and also grab distant loot.
Pro tip: use the whip to activate traps so you can avoid them.
Who is this For?
City of Brass is for any roguelike fan. I’d love to say it’s for fans of Arabian Nights or fantasy games. But those are components that haven’t been fully utilized for the game, at this point.