Dungeon crawler with a twist
Notice: A copy of this game was provided for review purposes. While we are grateful to receive this copy this does not influence our opinion in any shape or form.
gameplay 91 / story 15 / graphics 99 / sound 91
DISCLAIMER: Gamelust was given a copy for City of Brass by developers Uppercut Games. This does not affect our opinion on the game whatsoever.
I first reviewed City of Brass in March last year when it was in its early access phase. Even back then I was impressed by the game’s beautiful graphics and unique gameplay. Over a year later, the game is months out of early access and has been released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One but how does it hold up? Is the experience the same as it was back then? I’ve been playing the game recently to find out, and here’s what I think.
To avoid making this entire review a then vs now situation, i’m going to just say this – City of Brass has transformed, most notably in the progression sector which I for one live for. In typical roguelikes, progression is tossed to the side due to permadeath’s nature but Uppercut Games have managed to buck the trend, locking character classes behind a progression wall, giving something for players to work towards and a reason to keep exploring.
Of course there’s already another reason to keep exploring; the levels, which, for a game that is procedurally generated, are well designed. The game generates a level, adding in sneaky traps that become progressively harder as you traverse each area. Enemies aren’t as challenging, but some types (such as the relentless magus) get all up in your face, making attempting to loot an entire area a living hell.
Levels aren’t perfect though. Like every good algorithm, the level design has some hiccups every now and then, creating sections of the map that are different to say the least, which can be stressful if you have burdens activated too. What are burdens I hear you ask? Simply put, they’re modifiers that spice the game up, close cousin to blessings which aid you in your whip-swinging adventures. Of course these are entirely optional but offer a change of pace for those looking to play at an easier (or harder) difficulty.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the game is the whip; who doesn’t love living out their childhood fantasies of being Indiana Jones? Sure, Indie might not have ventured into a city temple but the whip has been perfectly translated into the video game world. Never have I enjoyed tripping enemies up and shoving a 10 inch spike into their skull as much as I do when barging through doors and stealing ancient relics that definitely belong in a museum.
But the game is no copycat of a timeless film franchise. No, City of Brass dances to its own beat and does it so god damn well they created a DDR spin-off (they didn’t actually, and to be honest I don’t think that’d end well considering the fast paced nature of the game). If you really feel like it, you can blaze through each level, literally dancing from hoop to hoop that are conveniently attached to most buildings around the city. Want to take things slow? That’s cool, you can do that too. Just beware of the fire genies and the time limits (unless you enable the time blessing, in which case take as long as you want).
Genies are your best friends in this cruel, cruel world. They’ll sell you all sorts of wares, even a helping hand that’ll ward off those pesky enemies for you. Armor and weapon upgrades can be purchased too, which, like modifiers, can add some major improvements to your playthrough. Freezing enemies with the lash of your whip is a welcoming move and upgrading your spear to ricochet enemy attacks can be useful. There’s no shortage of weapon modifications in City of Brass and that goes a long way.
Unfortunately the story is a bit iffy. There is a plot in place but it’s hard to piece together, or discover in general. Instead, you’re left to guess using small fragments of information that make zero sense. As much as it didn’t impact my gameplay massively, it would have been nice to have an idea as to why I was attacking a once-dormant city and looting it like there’s no tomorrow
But by the time I had fought the final boss and watched the final cutscene, I had fallen for the game. As a roguelike, City of Brass itches that need to pillage a centuries old city that has magically spawned from the ground but as a game, it’s the temple raiding roguelike I never knew I wanted, or needed.
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