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City of Brass – Hands-On at PAX East 2018

Raiders Of The Lost Ark, starring Harrison Ford, gave audiences the image of a dashing young hero, using his wits and smarts, to beat his enemies in the quest for fortune and glory. He was armed with his hat, his sidearm, and of course, his classic whip.

With his strength and skill, he was very capable, but was never invincible, getting beaten and even shot during the film. What was worth all of this was an artifact, worth a fortune. When he finally obtains it, that artifact wields a ferociously deadly power, one that instills caution and fear into the otherwise sturdy hero. It is this sense of mystic wonder and epic excitement that the team of UpperCut Games seeks to accomplish with their highly ambitious title, City of Brass.

City of Brass had the distinctive honor of being chosen for the PAX Rising Booth at PAX EAST 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The booth represents a special highlight of games that are fresh, distinct, and breaking the mold. Having played previous titles from Uppercut interactive, namely the EPOCH games, I approached City of Brass with a degree of excitement. After some time with the game, I came away even more excited, and ambitious, for the upcoming title.

While waiting for a demo, I had the opportunity to talk to a member of the development team behind the game. City of Brass is a procedurally-generated, rouge-like first-person action game that takes place within mythical land greatly inspired by One Thousand And One Nights,or more popularly referred to as Arabian Nights.

The real-life collection stories tell the tales of Middle-Eastern myths and lore, contain popular characters such as Aladdin and Ali-Baba. However, there are no magic carpet rides here as City of Brass is a deadly experience. In the game, a cursed city has emerged from the sands, with the player hopelessly trapped inside. The ultimate objective is to find the great treasures within and get out alive.

Coming from the releases of EPOCH and Submerged, the team behind City of Brass wanted to deliver a different, more immersive action experience that would set itself apart from the competition. The team is comprised of former Bioshock developers, who, in their previous projects, created a mechanical combat experience, where one arm wielded a traditional weapon while the other utilized a bio-mechanical tool. the mutagen.

The key to survival in Bioshock was to experiment with each mutagen to find the best tactics in dealing with enemies. City of Brass will play similarly, as players will only be armed with a whip and a scimitar. The survival of players will depend entirely on how well players use these weapons. With the explanations established, I jumped onto a station and began my work in City of Brass.

My first attempt was an absolute failure. From the moment I began, traps and unseen threats decimated me before I had the opportunity to progress forward. Of course, upon my first death, the only option was to try again. On my second playthrough, I became more familiar with the weapons and controls. This is when City of Brass really began to open up into an engaging experience.

The whip can be used in a variety of ways. Players face down cursed warriors, who will stop at nothing to eliminate the player. Using the whip wisely will allow players to gain an advantage. Players can slap enemies in the face, trip them at their ankles, or set off nearby explosives. If an enemy was stunned by the whip, players can successfully dispatch them with the scimitar. Players must also avoid deadly traps that will impede their progress. Despite the danger, players are encouraged to search every corner for gold so as to purchase perks during the level.

In my playthrough, I purchased a defense perk and managed to fight my way through two levels. City of Brass certainly accomplished the style of feeling like Indiana Jones, as I had a small smile on my face, each time I wisely used the whip. Seeing your enemies fall at the ankle, then smashing their skulls with the scimitar, was nothing short of satisfying.

However, the excitement went further when you are able to trap your enemies as well. Some sections involve deadly spikes erupting from the ground. If players were quick and careful, they could draw an enemy and have them smashed to pieces by the spikes.  It was incredibly satisfying to know that you used your strength and wits to outsmart and defeat your enemies.

Each battle felt intense. Where other rouge-likes gave players a multitude of options to survive, City of Brass really emphasizes environmental awareness and skill. One false step could mean certain death, and even without arms, the enemy will charge at you. I knew I wasn’t going to survive long, but I gave my damnedest effort, dispatching as many foes as I could. I furiously used my whip and scimitar in a last ditch effort for survival. Inevitably, I succumbed to death and my demo was over.

City Of Brass certainly earns its spot as a PAX highlight, as its cinematic, adventurous combat, and unique setting makes it quite an experience to embark on. it is clear that City of Brass will be a highly ambitious and well-built title.  I am curious about the game’s secrets and paths and what I will uncover next. Of course, I won’t be able to find out until the game officially launches.

City Of Brass will launch on Friday, May 4th, 2018,  for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.

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