The Rogue Prince of Persia

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia – Dead Cells Meets Arabian Nights

Well, let’s just say what everybody’s thinking: “There’s another Metroidvania Prince of Persia … already?! Yes, The Rogue Prince of Persia—a rogue-lite no less—is coming to Steam Early Access on May 14. And, unfortunately for your spare time, it is seemingly also quite brilliant.

Maybe Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, released in the good old days of January 2024, was your first taste of Metroidvania. In which case you might have been told to play Dead Cells by Motion Twin; one of the best Metroidvania that exists today or even ever. Coincidentally, the studio behind that game’s outstanding DLC updates is also responsible for The Rogue.

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

The reason Dead Cells has grown to become such a big deal is because it is a rogue-lite take on Metroidvania. A Roguevania, it has been called. In addition to the puzzle-oriented level navigation, there exists the threat of losing your one life given to start again. You get to keep character progress, such as items and upgrades, but in most other respects death is a reset.

The Rogue Prince of Persia takes this premise, and a fair bit more from the rogue-lite genre, above all procedurally generated levels. See, a rogue-lite is intended to withstand dozens if not hundreds of hours of repeated play-throughs to shake loose every hidden treasure. To stop this from becoming predictable, levels are randomly generated around core features. It’s never the same game twice. You will never be able to finish it with your eyes closed.

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

The last Dead Cells DLC from Evil Empire was Return to Castlevania in Ye Olde 2023. Yet again it proved how deeply the studio understood and could advance the Dead Cells experience. It also showed how knowledgeable and respectful the studio was to this legendary franchise.

While there is a ton of Dead Cells DNA in The Rogue Prince of Persia, this collaboration with Ubisoft is a whole new, standalone adventure. There’s more than enough that’s different about it for fans of Dead Cells and/or Prince of Persia to be excited about come May 14.

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

First off, the smooth 2D animation style sets The Rogue apart from the pixel art that has defined Dead Cells. It is well suited to the action and the theme, which could fit just as well as a Netflix or Disney+ series, being so beautifully and technically done. Character design, starting with the prince, is excellent—a bright flowing sash accentuating his every move. Enemies, in the form of the Hun, led by Chief Nogai, are a varied and menacing bunch.

Evil Empire is completing this big-time presentation with an epic soundtrack from Persian American producer/artist Daniel Asadi. His music uses traditional and modern sounds to evoke the spirit of ancient, mythical times while supporting a cutting-edge kind of vibe.

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

All of this becomes the perfect backdrop for the fast-flowing, though precision-focused, gameplay that Evil Empire has in store. The prince builds much of his free-running repertoire around his wall run, combined with leaping, clambering, and springing from many poles. Levels also include slippery slopes that demand a superb sense of timing to leave unscathed.

Dead Cells’ influence is more obvious in combat. Our prince adopts the shoulder vault/dodge to position himself behind enemies, and a ground pound which stuns if landed from up high. Some enemy attack patterns are familiar too: grenade-lobbing minions are a constant pain. Our short time with the game revealed one boss, a hulking great foot-stomping Minotaur. It goes without saying that deaths came often, returning the prince to his Oasis start position.

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

More Dead Cells/rogue-lite goodness stems from the twin daggers, axes, broadswords, and spears that the prince builds strategies around. These, alongside ‘utility items’ that include shields, bows, and grappling hooks, are replaced, or upgraded with more powerful variants. Some are from vendors, and others are found in treasure chests alongside bags of gold as the currency. It is far too early to know how deep this level of build-enhancement goes, but it has been crucial to the thrill of Dead Cells in every iteration since 2018. Surely, it’s a big deal in The Rogue!

We had a blast playing The Rogue Prince of Persia. It rewards careful steps while always luring you out of that comfort zone. There’s always just enough time to stop and think before being urged forward—rarely an occasion to play it safe and hold completely still!

Hands-On With The Rogue Prince of Persia - Dead Cells Meets Arabian Knights

From 14 May, you can find out for yourself. Evil Empire is promising huge support for Steam Early Access after The Rogue Prince of Persia rolls out: new levels, enemies, bosses, and weapons among fresh content mentioned between now and the full retail launch.

Stay tuned for more content coming from The Rogue Prince of Persia in the coming days as we have more to share soon. The game is available to wishlist on Steam ahead of its early access launch on 14 May.

This content was provided by Paul Davies. Thanks for the great coverage, Paul! 

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