City of Brass Hands-On: If Bioshock Met Prince of Persia In a Bar...
When a development team decides to provide a fresh take on a familiar genre, it can be a thing of beauty -- especially when it's something that completely takes you by surprise. That's exactly what happened with City of Brass, a new first-person adventure that made an appearance at last week's PAX East event, on the way to a release early next month on consoles and PC.
The game has a lot of components working for it. It's got the first-person style of the Bioshock games (but without the fancy guns); but also throws in some classic Prince of Persia action with it, arming you with a whip and a sword as you make your way through a doomed city.
The team at Uppercut Games have pulled off something pretty sharp here, creating a game with a lot of ambience, along with an original combat style and challenges galore. In fact, if you aren't careful, you'll need to start your journey all over again, doomed until you manage to save the city from whatever's bleeding it dry.
Your quest isn't easy. First off, you're cursed -- and you'll have to do the whole Groundhog Day thing over and over again until your mission is complete. But that isn't easy, as you have to face off against a number of undead soldiers and statues that will stop at nothing to come after you. This includes swordsmen (well, sword-skeletons), along with those without arms that come charging at you.
Getting Into the Gameplay
Then there are the traps -- oh, boy, are there traps. You'll have spikes coming out of the ground, as well as other dangerous obstacles that you need to traverse in order to stay in one piece. And that's easier said than done, especially when you've got enemies coming at you from all sides.
Fortunately, the gameplay is modified to give you a few advantages. You're not only armed with a sword, but also a whip. The sword is a lethal tool that slices through most foes with ease, while the whip works more as a secondary tactic. You can utilize it to grab objects, including explosive urns and treasure, along with being able to temporarily stun an opponent long enough to deliver a finishing blow. Combining these techniques really opens the gameplay up, along with the ability to run, jump, slide and perform other moves in an effort to get to the end of the level in one piece.
But the whip can also be used to swing you across dangerous areas and lift you up to higher levels. Not that you're entirely safe -- some enemies will chase you to the higher ground, and there will also be other traps, like sand funnels, that can chip away at your health. No rewinding time here either -- this ain't Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, after all. And you can also use the whip to grab enemies and drag them in the way of others, or even put them into a trap to activate it, allowing you to time your escape and make your way to the next skirmish.
What's great about City of Brass is its roguelike build. No two levels are the same, and once you die, you need to explore and find things all over again, though there are opportunities galore to put the hurt on foes and discover neat little treasures up high and low.prevnext
This Adventure Has Something To Offer
The graphics are very well polished for an indie game, with a smooth frame rate, extraordinary level design (even as it changes) and beautiful enemy animations. I was also a fan of the hand movements and aiming techniques, as it's a cinch to target enemies, pick up treasures and more. I didn't struggle once with the controls, despite the fact that the odds were clearly stacked against me. Damn deadites.
The game doesn't have too much dialogue to speak of, so it's hard to really get an idea of what your character is like. Fortunately, the enemies sound great, growling out at you as they charge towards you. The music isn't bad either, with some tunes that really play greatly with the theme.
Even though a new Bioshock is likely to come our way down the road, City of Brass will more than easily fill the void when it drops on May 4 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. You can try it out on Steam Early Access now if you're curious, and you'll find a great adventure that lies ahead -- even if some foes have, ahem, a bone to pick with you.
Check out the trailer below to see it in action!prev