“Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown” offers a solid Metroidvania experience with fantastic sound design and a great soundtrack by Gareth Coker. With impressive art, and smooth, challenging gameplay that all combine in what feels like a natural evolution for the franchise.
To begin with, you do not play as Jake Gyllenhaal in this game, you are very disappointed, I know. In Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown you play as Sargon, one of the Immortals. The game opens with you and your Immortal buddies knee-deep in a battle. This teaches you the basic mechanics and has you fight your first boss. After the battle, the Prince of Persia (roll credits) is captured. Playing as Sargon, you embark on a rescue mission for the captured Prince of Persia. What unfolds is a massive, visually diverse map with numerous exploration opportunities.
The game’s map is vast, offering a plethora of avenues to explore, each winding back and intertwining with others. Navigating this expansive terrain is a thrilling experience, with countless secrets and collectibles ensuring hours of engaging gameplay. Each distinct area, both visually and audibly, stands apart from the last, avoiding any blending or repetition. As you explore the map, you’ll meet up with the other immortals. As well as characters that are trapped there who will offer you sidequests.
In typical Ubisoft fashion, the game presents players with a choice between the “guided” and “exploration” modes at the outset. Opting for exploration, where waypoints are absent, adds a layer of challenge as you freely roam. Even if you get stuck, an NPC provides hints to guide you toward your next objective. I greatly enjoy this mechanic and I hope we see it adapted by other games in the future.
Time to Rewind
Initially, combat adheres to a standard formula, but as you advance through the game, a plethora of abilities becomes unlocked. These newfound skills not only aid in reaching previously inaccessible areas but also serve as exhilarating combat mechanics. The standout feature in Prince of Persia lies in the ability to rewind time and teleport to a prior location. With a simple button tap, you place a spectral version of yourself, and with another tap, you seamlessly return to the original spot. This unique aspect is the game’s shining star, offering diverse ways to present puzzles and combat scenarios.
Imagine platforming to a location, triggering a button to open a door with a tight 5-second window, placing your ghost, descending, activating another button for a second door, and then teleporting back to your ghost to continue the platforming puzzle. In combat, this ability excels too – strategically placing yourself, attacking an enemy, leaping over their head to divert attention, and teleporting back as they strike, allowing you to strike from behind. While it might sound intricate, the game introduces these mechanics gradually, becoming second nature over time. Once mastered, the execution provides a fantastic sense of accomplishment.
Just as gameplay threatens monotony, the game introduces new abilities, enemies, and puzzles requiring distinct approaches for success. Throughout my playtime, boredom never crept in, thanks to the game’s adept mixing of encounters and continual introduction of fresh mechanics. The result is an engaging and ever-evolving experience, keeping both combat and exploration consistently enjoyable. I’ll add too, that this game is tough. Quite a few puzzles took me longer than I care to admit to solve, and some of the bosses took me more tries than I care to admit as well. Note that I was playing on Hard for most of my playthrough. But found enemies and bosses were still quite a challenge on normal difficulty.
A Special Boy with Special Powers and a Cool Necklace
In addition, Sargon can also unlock special combat abilities throughout the game. He can equip up to two at a time. These abilities consume your “special meter” but possess the potential to turn the tide of a battle swiftly. As you progress in the game, you’ll also come across amulets, each offering unique bonuses or abilities. These enhancements range from creating a time bubble that slows all enemies after a successful parry to transforming your arrows into fire arrows and boosting your overall health. Furthermore, the game allows you to upgrade both your amulets and weapons, enabling you to purchase larger quivers and expand your capacity for health potions.
With a variety of amulets and special powers available, players have the flexibility to craft their own personalized “loadout” for Sargon, tailoring his abilities to their preferences. Experimenting with different builds became a highlight of my playtime, and seamlessly switching between them adds to the overall enjoyment.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Presentation
While the art style initially appears to be a drastic departure from the classic Prince of Persia games, within just 10 minutes, I found myself deeply enamored with it. The overall presentation is stellar, characterized by flashy, colorful in-game cinematics that effortlessly captivates.
Despite limited material, the voice acting is fairly solid. The sound design here overall enhances the gaming experience, offering distinct noises for enemy attacks, signaling whether they can be evaded or require a dodge. Surprisingly, the soundtrack exceeds expectations, proving to be more inspired than anticipated. If I had known in advance that Gareth Coker, the composer behind Ori, Immortals Fenix Rising, and Halo Infinite, was involved, my excitement would have been even greater. The soundtrack boasts memorable boss-fight music and a recurring theme that resonates throughout the entire game. I must admit a slight bias though, given that a song from Ori was played during my wedding.
Overall, the impressive new formula and style of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown are so captivating that they successfully made me overlook the fact that previous iterations weren’t side-scrollers or that there were even previous iterations at all. This, undoubtedly, stands as the highest praise I can offer the game. For fans of metroidvanias or action platformers in general, and with the added bonus of being priced at only $50, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown unquestionably deserves your attention, and I hope we see a sequel in the future.
Reviewed by Harrison Floyd/Purrgil1 on Xbox Series X
Playtime of 27 hours across normal and hard difficulties with only 60% completion rate after beating the main story.