City of Brass

A game called City of Brass developed by the creators of bioshock was recently released on the Epic Games store. It’s a sort of dungeon crawler, where you progress through floors while avoiding enemies and traps, collecting items on the way to the exit. The game is/was free from the day it released to the 7th of June, and though I have my issues with Epic Games, I’ve rather enjoyed playing the game. I personally have never played any of the games in the bioshock series, but City of Brass has its own take on combat and gameplay that creates a unique and entertaining experience.

The gameplay itself is a rather basic concept. You progress through floors searching for the exit, all the while avoiding traps, defeating enemies, collecting currency, and gathering new items to help fight your way through the higher levels. Items and potions are randomized every run, and can either be bought from a shopkeeper or collected from chests that can spawn around the level. As you progress to the higher stages, the amount of enemies as well as the types of opponents increases, and at a certain stage you can fight a boss to progress to the next sort of biome or area. The game itself is close to the basic format for a dungeon crawler, but the artstyle and combat help to create a separate experience from other games.

There are a few different characters you can unlock in City of Brass, all sporting their own weapons and allowing for unique playstyles, but every character has access to the whip. The mechanics for the whip have been created rather well, allowing you to fight off enemies in various ways, as well as traverse around the map. For general functionality, it can be used to pick up items at a distance, activate traps without stepping on them, and pull your character towards various hooks on the map. These functions allow for  you to be cautious with your movement and overall playstyles, as well as provide new ways to overcome challenges encountered in the higher levels. The combat functionality for the whip is rather unique, allowing for it to have different effects depending on the area hit. Hitting an enemy in the head will temporarily stun them, whereas hitting them in the hand will disarm them of their weapon and hitting them in the legs will knock them over. You can also use the whip to pull enemies towards you or into traps, and when used correctly, the whip can be more important than your primary weapon, as it can allow you to traverse through traps and fights unharmed. Though I could argue the importance of the whip in the game’s combat, the character unique weapons also account for the way you progress through the game.

The two starting characters in the game only have a basic sword, though as you progress through the game you unlock more characters and various different weapons. The sword is an all around decent weapon, it deals a good amount of damage, has an okay attack rate, and has enough range to attack most enemies without them hitting you first. However, the first character you unlock allows for you to use a spear. Though the damage for the spear is the same, it attack slightly slower and is able to be thrown. The thrown spear can penetrate through multiple enemies, and once thrown can either be collected or recalled to your hand, though recalling the weapon leaves you unable to attack for several seconds.The ability to throw your weapon allows for you to play further away from the enemy, though the slower attacks can put you at a disadvantage if you’re in close range combat, and the recall time can create issues if you use the throw in a bad situation. The different weapons that characters use all have their ups and downs, but the different options can allow for you to find a playstyle that better suits you. Though playing a character more suited to you can help you progress through the levels, there are also various items that change the way you play.

Items are acquired from either the shopkeeper or from chests around the map. Some items add new functionality to your character, and some change functionality of your main equipment. The items that change your equipment tend to add a new function to either your whip or your primary weapon. The effect could be anything from dealing more damage, to knocking down enemies you hit, to even just increasing the range you can use your whip. Some items are definitely more powerful than others, such as the item which makes enemies hit by your whip become temporarily frozen, but all items have their usage and allow for you to play in a different way. The items  are also different on every run, so you have to adapt how you are playing depending on how your luck with items is during that run. The other kind of items typically add another function onto your character. Some can make you deal damage when falling from great heights, while others can temporarily convert enemies on to your side whenever they damage you. These items tend to have stranger descriptions, and it’s not always clear what they do, which can make it a lot more fun to explore the various effects and to discover new gear. Though a large amount of items are unlocked by default, you can add more items to the randomized pool by leveling up.

The progression of the game is based off experience points you gain during your run. Levelling up unlocks new characters with different weapons, as well as new items that can be discovered during your gameplay. You also get further in the game by clearing more stages, as you get through more stages, you will eventually get to a boss, once defeating a boss, you’ll be given access to a new area. If you die during your gameplay, you will have the choice to either restart at the beginning, or use one of your three “wishes” to restart at the level after the boss fight. I can’t currently say what happens when you get past the 12 floors as I have not been able to get that far, but you gain more xp for killing more enemies and collecting more loot, which means the more floors you progress for whichever you start on, the more xp you will generally get. I’d like to see some sort of unlocks that you get by defeating bosses oro by clearing individual floors, but the current system is still paced at a way in which I’m able to unlock more content before I get bored of the game. Though I personally enjoy the game, I do realize that the semi-repetitive setup may be boring for other people.

Though dungeon crawlers tend to have randomized stages, the gameplay at its core is relatively the same for every run. However, with the combat system as well as the different characters and unlocks, I’ve been able to play through many runs without getting bored or encountering the exact same level. I can’t fully recommend the game, as I never paid for it and instead received it for free. If you however are interested in a first person dungeon crawler, I’d highly recommend picking up City of Brass on either Steam or the Epic Games store. Even if you’re not sure that it’s your kind of game, if it’s before June 7th, you can get the game for free, and I recommend picking it up and giving it a try. Though I’m against the Epic Games platform in general, I’m definitely glad they gave away this game for free.

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