As our lone wanderer approaches the desolate gate in the middle of the desert, his medallion begins to glow. When he reaches the top of the stairs, he discovers a magic lamp that produces the fiery genie that dwells within. As the genie lays eyes on the ruby medallion, he enacts the wanderers wish without a word spoken, lifting the ruined city from beneath the sand. A city filled with riches and jewels beyond belief guarded by the souls of the damned that now guard the forgotten fortune.
City of Brass is a desert themed first-person rogue-lite developed and published by Uppercut Games. There are 15 levels that increase in difficulty with boss battles sprinkled in along the way, along with a literal horde of bestiary that require the use of the games various mechanics to subvert. The goal of the game is to reach and defeat the final boss while grabbing as much treasure as possible along the way. In typical rogue-lite fashion, death is permanent. The only thing that carries over is rank, which is like a levelling system that persists across playthroughs. Each rank gained gives the player a piece of upgraded gear. The experience gained towards ranks is based on the amount of gold you have in possession when you die.
Our character is in possession of a sword and a whip, as well as three wishes that can be used, but more on that later. The whip has two functions, both of which are useful. The first is the stun, where a crack with the whip will incapacitate foes with a smack to the face or plant them on their behind and seeing stars, allowing us to close in for the kill or give us ample time to scramble away. The other use of the whip is the grab function that allows you to pull enemies towards you, but more importantly, into the traps that litter the levels. It can also be used to grab loot and throwable objects. The sword is very straightforward in use, put the sharp end onto enemies. Its only other use is destroying boarded up entryways that can also be destroyed by the whip and throwables. The last useful action by the player is push, which helps tremendously when being chased by a horde of skeletons (very common).
The currency in the game comes in the form or gold and wishes. Gold is gained by picking up treasure that litters the city. The gold can be spent at genies who offer various things ranging from increased health and equipment, to insurance in case you die (redeemable in the next playthrough). Each genie also accepts wishes that can do various things to enhance what the genie offers. For example, one genie can be paid to disable the traps for that level; if you use the wish on that genie, he will disable traps for the rest of the playthrough (extremely helpful!) Remember to use the wishes wisely, as you only get three per playthrough.
Another thing that wishes can be spent on, are portals. Portals offer a fast track to the later levels, only available after you have beaten the boss that corresponds with the portal. The cost of the portal is based on how far the portal takes you. Example, the portal that travels you to level ten, costs all three of your wishes and puts you in level 10 with no more wishes and penny-less with starting gear.
Another layer of flavor is added through the Blessings and Burdens system, a way to handicap the game for either a less stressful, more casual experience, or a much harder masochistic nightmare. When using the blessings, leaderboard progress is not recorded but achievements are still earned as normal. This game is quite difficult. I only managed to get to level 4 with no handicaps on. When playing with all blessings turned on, I managed to get to the final boss but was thwarted as the last moment. The entire experience taking me about 2 hours.
Gameplay: The gameplay and controls are everything you’d expect from a game made in 2018. The controls are fluid and responsive, also allowing for adjustment in the options menu to cater to user preferences. The game is hard but fun and makes for some intense, fast paced gameplay.
Graphics: The visuals are very pleasing, offering a dark and eerie experience as well as a bright and beautiful palate in a cartoonish container that feels like the perfect amount of realism and make-believe.
The music is typical of what you would expect from a story told about a sandy oasis of the damned. Light and mysterious with an Arabian flair. The maniacal laughter and coughing of the bestiary creates a layer of anxiety and suspense.
The nature of a roguelite is to be played numerous times. With this one, you will actually want to play it several times. For those that enjoy a challenge, this game with be an excellent addition.
Overall Score: 8/10
Developer: Uppercut Games
Publisher: Uppercut Games
Release Date: 4th May 2018
File Size: 3.45GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & Steam