Released a few short weeks ago, City of Brass is a promising rogue-like first person game based on the Arabian Nights theme.
Armed with a whip and a sword, you’re tasked with traversing twelve levels to escape the city cursed with those who have failed before you. Initially it’s incredibly impressive, the sword feels strong and powerful with the whip functioning with a precise crack and every bit as accurate as you’d hope. Just as you’d expect there’s a slight delay between pressing the button and the whip uncoiling over distance as it strikes the desired mark, but this doesn’t take too much getting used to and serves far more purpose than whipping an unfriendly skeleton into submission.
While the sword is great for finishing off your foe, it’s the whip that will find far more usage, pulling enemies towards you, grabbing objects usually out of reach and pulling yourself across the map on hooks above your surroundings. Together with the various traps found around the city, there’s plenty of opportunity to dispatch your enemies in fashion. Crowds of larger or stronger enemies sometimes take a little thought, but when you string together your whip, sword and various traps you’ll find plenty of moments where everything seems worthwhile.
For the majority of the game the core gameplay mechanics work perfectly and collecting various treasures you’ll find lying around prove an integral part of the game as you discover genies where you can use the acquired funds to purchase weapon upgrades and special modifiers such as turning off traps, or adding a buff to either you or the enemies, There’s even the option to save three of these modifiers to available slots, so they’re automatically active on your next play through, thankfully neither are powerful enough to make the game a breeze, but I would have liked to feel like there was more continual progression. This is sadly tarnished a little due to some dodgy hit detection which unfortunately means you’ll often waste a few swings even though your target is at point-blank range..
The action flows fluently, and while most of the surroundings look great, a few enemies looked like they could have done with a little more polish. The real downfall is in the level design, it changes with each play through, enemy and trap spawns differ each time, but they still start to feel a little too similar. What really hurts City of Brass is that there’s only 4 primary backdrops, which means it’ll feel like your re-treading old ground a little too often.
Progressing through the 13 levels on offer, complete with dozens of enemy types including mini-bosses, as you progress from one level to the next, it feels rewarding, but the later levels soon fade into the backdrop of earlier scenes and the first few levels especially start to feel as familiar as your own back garden, rather than an exciting new mysterious city. Audio goes some way to helping with the overall presentation of the game, but it never really shines enough to stand out, it’s certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t quite hit a memorable level.
City of Brass is still a very good game, the sword and whip play, feel fresh and unique and the treasure collection give you an ongoing challenge choosing between better powers or better scores, those chasing leaderboards will find plenty of appeal as you piece together scenes of actions stringing together one kill after another while grabbing every collectible you can find.
Casual players will find plenty of enjoyment initially, but the often challenging difficulty and repetitive themed areas will tarnish the longevity, thankfully there’s plenty of options to alter the difficulty, but unfortunately there’s no helping the experience of revisiting the same old city backdrop time and time again with very little actual progression to make you think the next hour is going to get you any further.