Ex BioShock devs announce FPS roguelite City Of Brass

When a collection of former Irrational devs, who worked on BioShock, Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance and more, tell you they’ve got a first-person roguelite for you to play, it’s well worth paying attention. City Of Brass [official site] is an Arabian Nights-themed procedurally generated FPS, arming you with a whip and a scimitar, and challenging you to see just how far you can get through its permadeath streets. The first footage and more details lie below.

Let’s dive straight into the footage:

Uppercut describe the game’s setting, saying,

“Players assume the role of a cunning thief, battling to reach a fabled treasure at the city’s heart, wielding a blade and whip that can be used to disarm, trip or stun enemies, to swing to safety, grab inaccessible objects or even break through flimsy barricades. But the city itself also has teeth. Players have to leap across pits, slide under blades, dodge spears or arrows, evade or employ sprung paving slabs, and sidestep poison gas traps – all the while manipulating these hazards to their advantage against diverse supernatural foes.”

And, crucially, die a great deal. Permadeath means the game is designed to provide a unique city each time you start over, about which Uppercut tell us (in an interview appearing later today), “the scripts that generate them are careful to make it feel like a realistic city, not a random collection of chambers, corridors and courtyards stitched together.”

Uppercut’s previous game was Submerged, a gentle exploration and climbing game – City Of Brass looks to be just about the opposite. This is a game, we’re told, about mastering its systems, and most of all, learning to use your whip and blade, along with the game’s traps, in ways that allow for experimental approaches to combat. Project lead Ed Orman tells us a bit more about that, too.

“We’ve taken particular inspiration from the potential of games like BioShock to generate combinative combat situations. For example, you can use the whip to stun an enemy before slicing them with your scimitar; or you can run, slide and push them into a trap; or bait one enemy such that in its rabid desire to kill you, it actually destroys other enemies nearby. We think City of Brass will generate a ton of cool combat moments.”

Oh, and genies grant wishes.

There’s not long to wait, either – the release is set for this autumn, via Steam.

Check in later today when we’ve got an interview with Uppercut finding out a bunch more about the game.

44 Comments

  1. JustAchaP says:

    Why do they always have to be a rougelike -w-

    • Viral Frog says:

      I can’t believe the number of people that complain every time a roguelike/lite is announced. As if there aren’t any other games coming out geared towards other types of players. What is the point in complaining that one game isn’t being developed specifically for you when there’s countless others that are specifically geared towards you? You’re not changing any developer’s mind.

      Roguelikes/lite genre does have a problem with being oversaturated by sub par, crap titles. But there are also tons of great titles in the genre as well. If you don’t like the genre, don’t buy the games. If you do like the genre, do some reading up and wait for reviews before you take the plunge and buy the game.

      I think there’s a few good reasons this genre is so popular for consumers and developers. First, they’re easy to jump in and out of at a moment’s notice. Tons of people love to play games but can no longer commit the time required. If a game offers you the option to leave at a moment’s notice while losing nothing, that’s a good game to play on limited time. Second, they offer a solid challenge. A lot of single player games are just too easy and for a lot of gamers, myself included, that equates to less enjoyment. I don’t want to breeze through a game, I want to be challenged by it. There are a lot of others that feel the same. Third, they’re probably quite a bit cheaper to develop. This leads to some terrible, generic procgen a lot of the time. But when it’s done well, it’s absolutely fantastic. (Unexplored has some of the best procgen ever.)

      Don’t try to rain on other peoples’ parades just because there’s a game being marketed towards them. There are hundreds and thousands of other games that are catered towards you. How often do you hear us complain every time we hear of a story driven game being announced? Or open world? Or multiplayer?

      • Viral Frog says:

        I have no idea how my comment ended up as a response to yours. Mine was supposed to be as a response to the general article, not any one specific comment.

      • Touchstone says:

        First two can be done in any game. Autosave and quick save exist and difficulty can be tuned to be challenging with ease. Also, I’d say those looking for a challenge aren’t the ones without the ability to invest the time into gaming. It’s the third one that is clearly the primary reason so many of these exist. It’s cheap since you don’t have to carefully hand-make an experience. And the “replayability” comes with it instead of having varied approaches built into the gameplay that make you actually want to play it again instead of merely being forced to.

        Of course good ones can be made, but this isn’t really a genre in the way that an RPG is a genre. Being roguelike/lite merely means it contains a particular mechanic. Otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing it applied to the entire breadth of actual genres games have.

  2. karnak says:

    I don’t want to sound like a nagging old bastard. But this “rogue-like” crap is really starting to get old.
    Honestly it’s already unoriginal and it’s becoming an excuse for artificially extending a game’s lifespan.

    I wouldn’t mind “permadeath-rogue-whatever” mechanics if they were implemented in a way that’d make some sense in terms of game mechanics and that would entice the player to keep playing instead of making the player feel like he’s being punished for playing the game.

    I think the “rogue” mechanics made sense in the 80’s, because – at the time – most videogames were centered around the Arcade mechanics. The player had to die – A LOT – so that the more coins would fall on the machine. Only the best (or richest) would win. Nowadays videogame players have kids, jobs and a lot of other stuff to do. Not much time availabe to spend in front of a TV or a monitor.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Obviously none of us have played this game so don’t know either way, but what an odd outburst you give there. You say you “wouldn’t mind if…” but obviously don’t know if this game meets those criteria!

      As it happens, I put the point that every other game labels itself “roguelike” these days in my interview, which goes up at 7pm today. As they point out in their reply, they’ve opted for “rogue-lite”, as this article uses too.

      • karnak says:

        I admit my comment was indeed a rant.

        Procedurally generated. Rogue this. Rogue that.

        It could be interesting. But it’s a fad. Like Zombiezzzz, or VR, or crafting (everything has crafting too nowadays).
        Yes, I’m being bigoted and opinionated. I know there’s a customer base for this kind of thing.

        But it’s a fad. Sooner or later a new fad will appear and we’ll have a 5-6 year drought without a single crafting/rogue/proc-dev game :(

        End of rant.

        • Unclepauly says:

          And the world keeps turning. Why’s the world have to keep turning? One day this world’s gonna stop turning, then it’s just inky black nothing of space…

    • tangoliber says:

      IMO, all games should be Procedural Death games by default, and “Save Scum” games should be the niche. I just think it is a better format for games in general….
      Also, as someone who usually only has a few minutes a day to play games, procedural death games suit my schedule better. I can jump into something like Nuclear Throne and play for 15 minutes before I will probably die. No time wasted wading through tutorials, narrative, scripted sequences with illusory challenge, which the save scum format seems to encourage….just 15 straight minutes of gameplay.
      The only problem comes when you get on a good run, but it takes a couple of hours to get through to the end. (Such as with the recent Strafe.) For those kinds of games, it’s ideal to have a bookmark system to save your game but delete it upon reloading. (Ziggurat is a good example).

      • Premium User Badge

        Captain Narol says:

        Absolutely Not !

        All games should at least have “save scumming” as an option, not everyone has the time nor the mood to replay the same game an hundred times to get a chance to reach the end someday.

        Gaming should stay fun and accessible to all, not become a challenge just for the challenge’s sake and elitist pride.

        • tangoliber says:

          I don’t think permadeath is a time problem. The games are typically either short enough to play in one sitting…or they have a bookmarking feature, so that you can pick up where you left off…but not save scum.

          IMO, save scumming ruins the fun for a lot of games. It works in some games. Permadeath isn’t about elitism…it’s about fun. I don’t think there is anything inaccessible about it. Unless Pac-Man is inaccessible.

        • April March says:

          I’m the opposite of a prideful elitist, I openly admit at being bad at most if not all games that I play, and I love riguelike games, exactly because I’m rubbish.

          If I’m rubbish at a regular game, I have to be continously rubbish at the same spot until I get lucky or brute-force my way through that section. Then I can continue until I reach another section I’m too rubbish to get past only using my meagre skills.

          If I’m rubbish on a roguelike, I play it a little and I die. And then I start again, on a new level, with new things. I can try again, doing different stuff, and enjoying myself again. I sometimes even manage to get good (“good”) at the game simply because I play it so much.

          “Oh, but only a best few will get to see the end of the game!” Who gives a fuck? If I die 50 times on the first level of a regular game, I know its first level. If I die 50 times on the first level of a roguelike, I’ve played 50 different levels. That’s more than most games have. I don’t need to reach the point where the game says “congratulations, you won!” to enjoy myself. To be frank, I don’t even know why roguelikes are so entwined with the ‘git gud’ crowd; they are the perfect game for rubbish gamers like me.

          • Touchstone says:

            50 “different” levels. You have to have your particular, individual, unique perspective to not consider game completion as part of playing. In many cases, there are entire methods of playing that are not available till later in games. Sounds like missing out if you never get to use them.

    • Menthalion says:

      A gross simplification. Program resources in the 80’s/early 90’s were small and asset creation slow and expensive, so having to restart was essential to the longevity for a game as well.

      Almost the same for games now created by small independent teams that don’t have the resources for creating lots of art assets and levels, resorting to procedural generation.

      It’s less of a problem if your motivation for a game is trying to improve your skill in a game’s interesting new mechanics than wanting to be told a sprawling story with tired gameplay that has to evade all risks to not endanger the investments.

      Good there’s AAA titles for that, then.

      • tangoliber says:

        @Menthalion,
        I honestly don’t see procedural generation as an art asset issue. I think smaller developers are using procedural generation simply because they are more open to experimentation.
        I prefer procedural generation simply because I don’t want to memorize the layout of a game that I want to replay. If the gameplay is highly replayable, then I don’t want to be stuck going through the same exact levels again and again. It’s great if you can have a massive level editing community to create 20 years worth of levels like Doom has, but procedural generation is the next best thing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      I don’t think you understand what “roguelike” is. Classic arcade games are 100% not roguelikes. The core of the genre is several decades of turn-based PC games.

  3. zeep says:

    This video is unavailable.

    In my country i guess.

    Well, i’ll see it some other time. Have a nice day.

  4. AbyssUK says:

    With all this procedural generation in games… much like truck drivers, chefs, brick layers and sex workers; how many level designers are on the brink of being replaced by robots/algorithms?

    • tangoliber says:

      Someone still has to tailor the algorithm to their design philosophy. I think that good procedural generation would take much longer than just designing 25 static levels….but not all procedural generation has been good.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      This doesn’t replace level designers completely. Mostly this allows a smaller studio that can’t afford the time or money to have level designers hand-craft every part of every level of a full length game. Instead, typically in games like these level designers craft smaller modules (or rule sets) that can be used over and over in different variations, saving them time that they would otherwise spend meticulously creating the same structures over and over to populate a world. There’s trade-offs. Notably, a level generator will not create the best set-pieces or detail work, but it will sometimes create the unexpected. Sometimes developers will use a combination, using a generator to populate trees or the branches in a tree, but hand crafting important parts of the world.

    • April March says:

      Procedural level generation cannot replace a level designer. In fact, it necessitates a much better one.

  5. CalvinCoolidge says:

    I was thrilled when I read, “Ex Bioshock devs…” and then completely sans thrilled as I read, “roguelite.”

    • tangoliber says:

      I’m always happy to get a new procedural death FPS. There are a lot of them now, but I could still use more.

      However, my interest was deflated when I saw how slow the movement speed was. Looks frustrating. I will still give it a shot though.

  6. rondertaker says:

    haha the roguelite shade in this thread is cracking me up. this game sounds like ziggurat + bulletstorm and im SO FUCKING READY.

  7. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    “the scripts that generate them are careful to make it feel like a realistic city, not a random collection of chambers, corridors and courtyards stitched together.”

    Every game with procedural generation promises this exact thing, and later every review would seem to point that they fail at precisely that.

    Is there any of these games that actually managed to *not* feel like a bunch of rooms strung together randomly? I’m seriously asking, because at least in the ones I’ve been following this still would seem to be a major issue.

    • Catterbatter says:

      Actual roguelikes tend to be pretty good in that respect. RPS has published entire articles about the procgen in Brogue and roguelike-adjacent Unexplored. In fact the very first sentence in Adam’s review of Unexplored praises its dungeons.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        In addition to these excellent examples, I’d also offer Cogmind. Its levels are a little abstract in that you don’t really know or understand the full function of everything you’re seeing, but they very much feel like populated (by robots), functional, living places, laid out in ways that make sense, or at least made sense to SOMETHING.

        I get a little bit upset everytime somebody calls procedural generation the lazy or uninspired solution, because I’ve been watching the gradual development of Cogmind and others like it, and even then I know that the effort and heart I’m SEEING is probably only a small part of what’s actually being expended.

  8. jeremyalexander says:

    I’m so over the roguelike thing. It seems like every company is coming out with a game or two in this genre and I haven’t seen one yet that peaks my interest. Conceptually, a modern roguelike could be great, but everyone just wants to make a procedurally generated Doom instead of a role playing game with some depth.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      TOME, Caves of Qud, ADOM, Cogmind, Cataclysm: DDA, the list goes on. If you want a modern roguelike that focuses on roleplaying rather than just being “procedurally generated Doom” (which actually exists and which is a lot of fun, fwiw), then you’ve got lots of options.

      Of course, if “modern” for you simply means “shiny 3D graphics” then you’re most likely out of luck, I’m sorry to say.

  9. Stevostin says:

    If it’s gameplay based, it’s better to have a rogue like than a single player game bloated with quicksave/quickload.

    I have to say the game looks not AAA (by a long shot) but it does look very gamey. The whip is an exciting thing, especially in a rogue like context. But of course, as ever, rogue like comes down at how well adjusted the gameplay is. Glitches and killing bugs can fly when there’s a save or if the opposition is equally suffering from it (aka multiplayer) but in a roguelike, it’s not acceptable. To that regard, the release date seems worryingly close to me.

  10. tslog says:

    I was slightly interested in the game with the Dev’s involved, but then the terms, rogue like, procedurally generated and permadeath came along to ruin all interest. This cult won’t quit.

    Placing difficulty tension above all other aspects of game design is totally out of control, and frankly I’m sick of it.

    So many games rely on difficulty tension above all, but that is also form of exclusion that barely ever gets mentioned. Excessive difficulty is a form of exclusion is a fact. I guess when someone likes a game that excluding players in that way it doesn’t matter does it, because you like it ? Is that why that exclusion aspect gets a little mention ? There is a whole range of players of different skill levels and all your doing is cutting them out. But Oh that’s right, game as a “service” actually means fixing the games bullshit later on, or adding new difficulty levels months later. Pats on the head for average players later on. good boys and girls.
    What happened to inclusion st the start ? What happened to gameplay fundamentals as more important than difficulty tension ?
    Why not include a variety of difficulties first off like halo has been doing for over 10 years for example.

    And the fact that difficulty tension/ procedurally generated and permadeath are also meta aspects for ways to increase the perception of value for money by endlessly repeating similar or the same levels so to reduce an amount of more varied content also gets never mentioned. And obvious way for devs to charge more for a game for the perception of value for money using difficulty forced repetition.

    I’ve yet to experience personally a generation where generally they’ve got the balance right.

    • Catterbatter says:

      You seem upset.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      If you aren’t good at roguelikes (or hard games), don’t try to like them. Stop buying them, stop playing them. Go and find other things to play, things you enjoy, things that bring you happiness and brighten your day. There are, I promise you, an enormous number of games past and present that have nothing to do with these concepts, and there will be plenty more.

      What you should NOT do is whinge and rant and crusade. What you should not do is tell devs they shouldn’t be making these games, or players they shouldn’t be playing them. What you should not do is compare a fundamentally different game to something like Halo as if it somehow supports the (inherently false) argument that every dev should be expected to cater to everybody with their game. What you should not do is throw around words like “cult” when they don’t.

      You CAN, but you shouldn’t.

      Asking that these games conform to the standards and ideals of completely different genres is like asking that a puzzle game include rocket launchers, bullet-time and a car-chase (I wonder if such a thing exists, now I think of it…). It makes no sense. And getting upset when they don’t, taking it out on the devs and the fans when your entire problem is simply that you’re playing games you don’t like, that’s not only unfair on them, it’s also a terrible way to live for you, yourself.

      I don’t get along well with puzzle games. I figured that out, after some trial and error, and that realisation has enriched my life. Now I go and play 4Xs, or scrolling shooters, or RPGs. Now and again I’ll take a gamble on an unusual game in a genre I wouldn’t normally touch (or which defies genre altogether). Sometimes I have fun. Sometimes I don’t, and I move on. And generally speaking, I’m pretty happy.

      In closing, as Catterbatter says, you seem upset.

    • Menthalion says:

      Git gud

    • Unclepauly says:

      /Brings a hot tea and a blanket then slowly guides OP to his room…

      Phew! That was tense. Who wants cake?

  11. BathroomCitizen says:

    Yeah, I’m quite tired of rogue-likes/lites too. Apart from Conquest of Elysium 4, which is an interesting blend.

    Anyway, there’s one thing that really picked my attention: it’s an arabian nights setting! WOAH.

    I’m often seen lamenting the scarcity of games that are made in this particular setting. Do you guys know any other games?

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Wait I’m confused, COE4 is a roguelike? In what way? Does it describe itself as such?

      I’ve been playing since COE3 and adore the twists they’ve put on fantasy strategy, but it never really crossed my mind that it might have been going for that…

    • Unclepauly says:

      Mirage. A new multiplayer game from the devs of Mount and Blade I think.

  12. UncleLou says:

    “FPS, arming you with a whip and a scimitar”

    First person slayer? Scrapper? Smacker? :)

  13. jonahcutter says:

    Seems like complaining about how over roguelikes one is is the new complaining about how over zombie games one is.

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