Ross is a writer, educator, and performer who lives and works in NYC. When he's not doing any of the aforementioned activities, he's playing video games.
This first-person, Nights-themed roguelike will give you a run for your money.
Do you love everything about Disney’s animated film Aladdin except its G rating? Then you need to check out City of Brass. This first-person procedurally generated dungeon-crawler by Uppercut Games is a thrilling romp through a treacherous, One Thousand and One Nights-inspired city full of evil genies and undead soldiers. While it’s based on the famous fairy tale, this game’s unique spin focuses less on the life-saving power of storytelling and more on the joy of slaying your enemies and looting to your greedy heart’s content.
A make-it-out-alive-no-matter-the-costs mentality is at the heart of City of Brass’ design. The objective is simple: make it through a cursed city by avoiding pitfalls and cutting down anything that gets in your way. Made by several developers who previously worked on BioShock and BioShock 2, City of Brass’ gameplay is unsurprisingly its best feature. Its action and setting are both immersive and entertaining. You get to run, slash, stab, crack your whip, jump, slide, pick up treasure, and — most importantly — blow shit up. It’s basically like controlling a brown Indiana Jones in a mad dash past traps and through thickets of baddies. All of this fun gameplay more than makes up for the relatively sparse lore.
The game, despite its lack of narrative elements, is still full of memorable moments. It’s got a wonderfully cinematic opening scene in which the lovechild of Will Smith’s newly unveiled Genie and Hellboy conjures the haunted metropolis out of the desert. The diversity of foes encountered through each playthrough and the procedurally generated levels keep the game fresh and exciting regardless of its repetitive nature. Each of the bosses that you face are remarkable in their own way and pose a considerable challenge, too. The closing sequence is a particularly well-earned reward for clearing all of this diverse and difficult gameplay to boot.
Another appealing feature of City of Brass is that players are rewarded for their skill. You can use the loot you collect through the levels to upgrade your abilities, customizing your character to your liking. You can also unlock and choose from a variety of different classes with different weapons and special moves. They include the Fool, a basic sword-fighter class; a female version of him known as the Traveller; the Soldier, who uses a spear to lay foes low; a ranged assassin, the Brigand; and even a playable Genie bruiser, the Hellion. You can also see how your high scores with each class compare to other players, perfect for the more competitive gamers out there. Even more characters will supposedly be available soon!
There are really only two drawbacks to the game. First, working with such rich source material, the developers could have put more into making it engaging in terms of storytelling. Not capitalizing on the Arabian Nights theme beyond just the setting is a real missed opportunity, one that could’ve made the game more dynamic and interesting. The other con of City of Brass is the number of traps. There’s hardly anything more frustrating than making it through a labyrinth of corridors filled with deadly reanimated skeletons, narrowly avoiding their blows, only to have what little is left of your already limited life taken by a set of stupid punji sticks. You have to start over all the way from the beginning without the right upgrades by the way. Fans of such extreme adversity, however, will most likely find this to be a welcoming addition to the game.
Pretty topnotch first-person plundering, all things considered. Not to mention it’s a steal, price-wise, for what it’s worth. Be sure to check out the trailer to see if you think you’ve got what it takes to take on the City of Brass.