Great entertainment for a short time.
Uppercut games certainly have produced one hell of a beat down in their recently released City of Brass, an Arabian night’s style survival game that keeps you coming back for more, no matter how many times you swear it’s the last round. The main reason to play is not to unfold any story but to figure out how to pass the levels, you will probably just keep playing because you’re laughing at your own stupid mistakes and trying to beat your last attempt.
For a moment imagine Aladdin crossed with Crash Bandicoot only with far more frustration and very fast skeletons. The story of The City of Brass in folklore is known relatively well as one of the many Arabian Nights tales. The game has clearly used the tale as inspiration, keeping the elements of genies, the undead and a city of traps and confusion, but the story line is fairly irrelevant for the actual game, there isn’t much progression other than to get to the end and beat all the bosses. This first person roguelite is quite honestly one of the most frustrating games I have ever had the pleasure to play. However, many, many rage quits later, I am still in for the ride.
It is an interesting concept, but the game itself has very little depth to it, and as far as I can tell the story line is more to set the scene than anything else. This does not take away from the enjoyment of the game itself, which is honestly brilliant. Each level tasks you with finding the exit, which will take you through a series of randomly generated areas where the undead await to protect their city, and ensure their riches aren’t stolen by you. No two runs are the same, which obviously means that you cannot predict what is to come, giving it continuous originality, but none the less each level only has a certain set of options, so it still becomes quite repetitive.
Now the best feature of this game in my opinion is the completely customizable difficulty level, you can add blessings and burdens in the main menu to improve your chances of survival or make it nearly impossible to complete even one level. There are plenty of options for weapons and skills also, meaning you can buy yourself a better chance of survival if you have the patience to collect as much treasure as possible, this is a difficult task as the countdown is on, with only a few minutes to complete each level before you are bumped back to the beginning of the game.
There is the option within the blessings to remove the timer, which gives the chance of a more fulfilling experience and you can try out plenty of weapons, different routes and really thoroughly scour the levels to collect treasure and collectibles. You are also given the option on occasion to put some of your weapons and collectible abilities into storage ready for when you die, so that you can re-build quickly. I would recommend doing as much of this as possible because surviving is anything but easy! The endless string of enemies ready to kill you, genies who have turned against you, and relentless boss fights every three levels mean that dying is at some point inevitable.
The game is challenging for sure, but has genuinely fun moments. The visuals are interesting, the enemies are original and have massive variety in their attack styles and abilities. There has to be a special mention here for my appreciation of the boss fights, which require lots of attempts to figure out the best tactical approach, and obviously leads to death more often than not. Don’t forget obviously with every death comes a restart – not just from the beginning of that level but it takes you back to the beginning of the game. There is not a second chance at any of the levels, the game must be played in one run, however, as previously mentioned, you do have the capability to store your weapons, usually these points can be found close to a boss or a big death point. The pressure is so high in this game, that at times it becomes unmanageable. As you only start with 4 health points, and there isn’t health regeneration without collecting coins and buying some new health, even passing through the early levels is a big struggle. Death is everywhere!
That having been said the blessings allow you to make the game far more playable, simply by increasing your maximum health and taking away the timer you can begin to really invest in each level, rather than rushing and making mistakes which quickly kill you off. If the enemies weren’t hard enough all by themselves, the game is littered with traps, which can be used to your advantage in the correct situations, however they are also lethal to you so watch out for the trap doors, sand blowers, fire bombs and many more, not to mention the Genies which are only good to you when you make a wish, their fire balls will chase you through the entire level, and there is no escape.
Personally, although the game was enjoyable for its actual game play and challenging enemies and scenery, it was in all honesty infuriatingly difficult, even with the blessings in place it was a tough game. The first few hours of play were acceptable, but it just became repetitive and a little slow, even with the random generation of the map, it was limited and wore thin quickly. As a laugh with friends, it works to pass the control and watch to see who kills themselves in the funniest ways, but as a solo game it was flawed. This is just the beginning of the range of problems this game has. As a huge fan of a great in depth storyline, I felt a bit let down that the amazing classic story that this game was based on didn’t contribute a great deal to the quest. The game also lacks replay-ability, once you have done it, there isn’t any reason to retry the game; there are leader-boards to try and top, but once you add blessings your score wont go forward.
A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Uppercut Games