The “Prince of Persia” series has had some inconsistent releases in the past, but the titles that hit, they hit hard, and still garner a large fanbase to this day who think of the series fondly. Ubisoft was supposed to release a remaster of the classic “Sands of Time” but due to some fan outrage of what they say they apparently went back to the drawing board on that one, but who knows, perhaps we will see that one someday soon. In the meantime, at this last Summer Games Fest we were surprised by a completely brand new “Prince of Persia” title, that of “Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.” While that initial surprise was quite exciting, that feeling quickly turned into skepticism as first gameplay footage that “The Lost Crown” is not your usual third-person action game, but instead a side-scrolling metroidvania style game. Having now played the game, was the skepticism warranted? The short answer, no, but allow me to elaborate further.
In this game, you play as a completely new character to the franchise named Sargon, who is part of a warrior clan that calls themselves The Immortals. Anyone who is part of this clan are essentially super soldiers who can essentially be one-man armies if need be. “The Lost Crown” has a simple story, that’s essentially about Sargon travelling to Mount Qaf, a cursed city that resides with the kidnapped Prince Ghassan. Throughout the journey of the game Sargon battles through enemies and creatures to retrieve the prince and bring him to safety. For side-scrolling adventures, the plot tends to take a backseat to the gameplay, and here specifically it’s no exception, but it does what it needs to do. The cutscenes or moments of dialogue are pretty much just done in a visual novel style format. There is one aspect to this game that Ubisoft certainly didn’t forget though, to provide a fun game!
Yes, it’s true, this game is incredibly fun. While the metroidvania style isn’t for everyone, this game makes it digestible enough for newcomers to really get into a genre they may not be so familiar with. All doing so while providing a very AAA experience for a genre usually mostly done in the indie space. The 2.5D style graphics are actually really cool and the city of Mount Qaf is really awesomely designed. All of Sargon’s abilities feel absolutely amazing, with the “Prince of Persia” franchise often revolving around time travel and abilities that mirror that. If I recall there are about six very unique abilities that all have their unique uses, such as being able to create a shadow clone, or an alternate timeline version of you where you teleport back to, which can help you get to areas you wouldn’t be able to survive in for very long and so-on.
An aspect I wasn’t expecting here, but needs to be commended, is that there are a fair number of puzzles designed into the levels themselves. They are just tough enough to feel very creative, but not too hard to where you can’t figure them out, once you do it does feel very good and makes me feel extra smart, even though I’m probably not. The combat here is fairly straightforward, with your light and heavy attacks with a fun dash mechanic in there as well. There is also a parrying feature here which is neat, where if you block an enemy attack at just the right time you can severely hurt or one-hit kill them with a cool unique animation. My biggest issue I had with “The Lost Crown” though, was how it handled checkpoints and fast travel. The checkpoints are these special trees throughout the map, but I felt they were a bit few and far between. Since exploring is crucial here, depending where you go, you may not be lucky enough to find a tree to save your progress before you die, for me, I easily lost thirty or forty minutes of my time because of this issue. The fast travel statues are hidden and it would have been nice if there were more of them.
Aside from those complaints, this is a solid little game. The graphics aren’t the most impressive things we’ve seen these days, but they aren’t meant to be, but to counter that this game plays at 120FPS and it’s awesome. The game also isn’t at a standard sixty- or seventy-dollar price either, which is refreshing to see big publishers continue to play with the values of prices with their games. There is a free demo available to try out and my best recommendation is to give that a try; if you like that demo at all I guarantee the rest of the game is just as awesome. While this wasn’t the “Prince of Persia” game we were all hoping or even expecting, what we did get holds its ground rather well and shows that the IP can evolve or fluctuate to different genres. Perhaps someday we will get that game we have all been craving, but for now, we still got something pretty dang cool.
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