In a magical city filled with a theoretically infinite amount of cursed treasure, it wouldn’t be strange to assume you could walk in, pocket a few solid gold idols, and be on your merry way. Sadly, the City of Brass is not so accommodating. As a certain Arabian-themed theme song once put it, you’ll never get bored, though get beaten or gored, you might. In the interest of preserving your skin and soul and hopefully making it out of this with a profit, here are some starting tips.
Never Forget the Whip
Rule numero uno: the whip. There are many like it, but this one is yours. There are few, if any, situations that cannot be circumnavigated with the help of your trusty leather friend. The whip can mess with enemies in a variety of ways depending on where you strike them. A head strike stuns, a foot strike trips, a hand strike knocks weapons away, and a chest strike knocks back. With the press of a separate button, you can lasso an enemy towards you, preferably right into a spike trap. On that subject, the whip can also remotely activate traps so that they don’t activate while you’re standing on/in front of them. As long as you never forget you have the whip by your side, no treasure is out of your reach.
Play to your Strengths
As with most rogue-lites, there’s no one right way to play this game. There are lots of different weapons and whips to pick up with subtle differences, but the only real way to know which is the best is to try them for yourself. When you find a new weapon in a treasure chest, give it a few practice swings, maybe go to a nearby room and pick a fight. Is it too slow for your tastes? Too weak? Dump it. The Needle of Tears, for example, is a small sword that uses quick stabbing attacks, but it’s so weak that the speed doesn’t even make up for it. The Blade of Cleaving has a longer reach, but it swings so slow that your foes will be in the next town over by the time it would hit. Everything has a strength and a weakness (though in some cases the strength is “does a cool thing” and the weakness is “has no stat changes from the regular sword”), so it’s up to you where you need to focus.
Don’t Start a Fight you Can’t Finish
On an individual basis, the cursed denizens of the City aren’t much trouble. A whip to the head here, a sword in the guts there, and a lone guard is dispatched easily. In large groups, however, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed, even by early-run enemies. Plus, once an enemy has been alerted to your presence, they’ll automatically run towards you, no matter where you are relative to them. When confronted by large groups, try your best to avoid combat altogether. Use the whip to grab grapple points for quick, silent travel, throw ghost chickens to distract sentries, and if they’re on the high road, you take the low road. Pretty much anything you can do to avoid an angry conga line of revenants on your butt is worth doing, especially if you’re on a boss level. The bosses usually won’t bother you until you enter their little circle of influence, so if you’ve got a few hangers-on, deal with them before starting the boss fight.
Inflation has hit this City like a lead weight. Figures, what with all the treasure lying around. The genie merchants can sell just about anything you’d need, from health restoration to magic trinkets, but they charge an arm and a leg for it. Unless you have a pressing need for more health, consider saving your money until at least the third level. Even if you pick up every shiny thing that enters your peripheral vision, it’ll all be gone in a snap if you start spending willy-nilly. This goes double for the later levels, as the genies will start jacking up their prices the further you go, doubly so if you make a wish.
Wishes are a Commodity
Speaking of wishes, you get three of them for every run you make. That’s not three per genie, by the way, it’s just three. For everyone. When you make a wish on a genie merchant, their wares will improve, but the prices will also jump up. There are also two special genies (and by “special,” I mean “jerks”) who will launch fireballs at you and summon phantom soldiers, respectively. Wishing on these guys will turn them to your side for the duration of the run, but you don’t get any kind of tangible benefit from doing it. Unless they are actively antagonizing you in a place you’d rather not be (near a boss, in a crowded room, etc.), just run away. As you get further into the City, you’ll unlock special portals that appear at the start of every subsequent run. To use these portals, however, you gotta spend up to three wishes, so if you wanna skip ahead, it’s gonna be at the cost of better shops. Last detail: any genies you’ve wished on during your run will reappear before the final boss for one last transaction. Give preference to the regular shop and health restoration genies for the best result.