Arabian nights.

City of Brass is a dungeon-crawling roguelike set to an Arabian backdrop. There is a lot to unpack there, but just think of it as an FPS with procedural areas and a whip. While I am not the biggest fan of games that change up with every playthrough, I can appreciate what they offer to some gamers. City of Brass executes its ideas well and the layout of the levels don’t always feel poorly designed. Also the theme is just too good to pass up.

The structure feels much like any other of its genre. There are 12 levels set across four areas and each run generates a new layout. Treasures can be obtained which transform into currency to upgrade weapons and abilities. None of this carries over between runs though, so don’t get attached to any one upgrade.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: XB1, PC, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $14.99

At the outset a genie will grant three wishes, which range from simple buffs to skipping completed sections entirely. There is also the ability to have an AI companion hurling fireballs, which is rad. I hate that I have to use wishes to skip already completed areas though. This means if I want to skip the first three and head straight to the final boss, it required all three wishes, meaning I got no perks to help in the fight. City of Brass once again feels like a title that would have actually benefited from a more traditional style.

It also doesn’t help that everything in the game repeats quickly. Making multiple runs through these levels the enemy and level design start to wear thin. I felt like I was going through the motions while also not actually making any progress, because, well I wasn’t. Games like Rogue Legacy and Swords of Ditto justify their repetition with small triggers of reward. City of Brass feels like a middle finger everytime I died.

The combat in the game is at least entertaining. City of Brass was built by developers that have previously worked on the BioShock series and it shows. The two-handed combat feels good. Using the whip to stun enemies, or toss them over ledges is extremely satisfying. I did have issues with the camera speed initially until I made some tweaks. It felt stiff and not as responsive as I would have liked.

One saving grace to City of Brass though is its customization for difficulty. Throughout the game I would unlock different burdens and blessings. These are modifiers that change the various elements of the game. From taking less damage to making enemies more difficult, these tweaks allowed me to enjoy the game how I wanted. Want a more challenging run? That is entirely possible. Still, it feels like a bandaid on the overall problems it has.

City of Brass has a great theme and aesthetic, but falls victim to the same issues most roguelikes have. I feel like a broken record every time I review one saying this would have been a better traditional game as opposed to a run-based one. Still, there are neat ideas and the theme of it is hard not to love.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Great theme
  • The whip adds a great dynamic
  • Repetitive level templates
  • Stiff combat at times
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.