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City of Brass Review

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The roguelike genre is nothing new in gaming these days and while you may not have heard the actual name before, you have probably played a few games in the genre without even noticing. The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy and more. The idea of the genre is that you repeat the same process over and over in intense dungeon-like gameplay with a permadeath feature. One of my all-time favourite games of the genre is Rogue Legacy. It is probably the only one I ever finished. 

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One of the most important parts of a successful roguelike game has to be the improvement upon death. Be it that you level up, gain more money, or even get a little stronger every time. While it is not a must, it is still important to make sure the challenge does not turn into a chore. Unfortunately, City of Brass lacks this vital feature and the sooner I realized it, the harder the game got to grasp. 

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City of Brass has a cool concept behind it. A randomly-generated city awaits you in the desert and you enter it to get to the end and survive the deadly traps and enemies that wait inside. The game's premise touching on an Aladdin feel with some Arabian Nights delivers a fresh take on the FPS genre. If anything, it is hard to find games set in the era. 

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The game has 12 levels in total and each level is increasingly more challenging than the last. Die and you get sent back to the start but get past one of the four boss fights and you can teleport to that spot in the progression to make things a little easier. There is a cost though. You have three wishes everytime you start a new life. Each skip costs one so by the time you get to the final levels you will need to use all three wishes to just be there. Wishes are also used to change what the genie is selling at the shops and also to help protect you from some specific stage tweaks that increase the challenge of the room you are in. 

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It is hard like many other games in the genre and you will find yourself raging. It also does not help that the steep difficulty spike gets frustrating due to cheap deaths. I often found myself on the third level just to die and start from scratch. Be it a spike trap that I did not see hidden on the edge of a lower platform, or enemies alternating their attacks so you do not get a chance to attack back. You do not take your money with you when you die, rather, the money gets converted into XP which helps you level up and unlock perks that you can enable in the game.

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When you start looking at the perk system which is called Burdens and Blessings things start to feel a bit better in terms of difficulty. Perks range from removing the timer on the stage to even making enemies weaker. All these Blessings are available from the start of the game while the Burdens, things that give you a negative impact on the gameplay such as harder enemies or shorter time limits are unlocked as you level up. You can play the game with as many Blessings and Burdens as you wish equipped and the only downfall for equipping them is a trophy or achievement that you may miss out on. 

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Gameplay in City of Brass is fast-paced with you running through these procedurally generated areas and killing enemies as you try and survive. The game's main attraction to the combat is a whip and it works very well. The whip is used to stun enemies, trigger traps and even grab items in the far distance from you. Best of all is how it works in combat. Whip a skeleton's hand and he will drop his weapon. Whip his head and he will be stunned and whip his legs and he will fall to the ground. You can also pull enemies towards you if you want to pick them out of a group heading your way. 

The whip definitely gives the game an upper hand when it comes to traditional FPS combat and I enjoyed using it. Melee weapons are also important to slice enemies up and there is a handful of them across the game too. Each type of sword you get has a different damage counter and speed to attack. I would often buy a sword from the genie thinking it would benefit me and it did not. I just stuck to the main weapon most of the time as it worked the best. 

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City of Brass lacks reward for completing its toughest challenges. Even its perk system, while being great most of the time, starts to feel as if you are putting yourself through the agony of using a Burden for no reason other than self-accomplishment. Where the game shines is in its combat without a doubt. 

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While I will probably never go back to play the game with negative Burdens equipped, the time I spent with City of Brass was great. Every death came with a lesson. Although there are some cheap ones. If you are a fan of the roguelike genre then this something you will enjoy. 

This review was conducted based on a review code sent to us by Uppercut games

Available On: PC, Xbox One, PS4 | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 4 May 2018 | RRPR319

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