The next in the long-running Prince of Persia series will be presented in ‘2.5D’, bringing a mix of combat, puzzle solving, and exploration. Basically, it is a Metroidvania-styled game. If you’ve played Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight this might mean something to you. Or… if you’re rather old, the word was coined in the late 1990s, after Konami’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night made a huge splash in the industry. The game took direction from Nintendo’s iconic Metroid series, adding a complex lock-and-key conundrum to the business of swatting creatures from hell.
Watch Our Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Preview Below:
Metroidvania has become the darling of Indie publishing in recent years since genius and frankly, brilliant variations on the genre have come out of studios both big and small.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is interesting because this is Ubisoft, a large triple-A publisher that is now stepping onto the ride. The move is far from cynical. Because Ubisoft Montpelier (Mont Peel Yer) who worked on Rayman Legends back in 2013, has taken this opportunity to return Prince of Persia to its roots, earning the respect of Jordan Mechner who created the landmark original back in 1989.
Before it was evolved by Ubisoft into a 3D action-adventure, and immediate predecessor to Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia was a cinematic, two (and maybe a quarter) dimensional action adventure, involving sword fights while navigating dungeons and towers.
Since there was such a stir created by Prince of Persia, with its unique animation, it likely influenced Konami, Nintendo, and countless other developers/publishers to make similar-looking games. However, the debate of how many games were inspired by Prince of Persia is something we’ll have to tackle another day.
The reason everyone who plays it loves Rayman Legends is the same reason Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is heading for success. It is so much fun to play and looks gorgeous. Ubisoft Montpelier has a particular talent for razor-sharp gameplay mechanics that reward an uncanny sense of timing alongside original level and gameplay design. Which is perfect for Prince of Persia.
The Lost Crown is heavily action-oriented. There’s a seemingly endless procession of mythical ghouls for the hero, Sargon an Immortal, to cleave through. Accessibility settings allow for an easier time too. If the story is what you came for, of course. But The Lost Crown is a combat game in essence. This is different to saying a game that features combat. We played on default Warrior difficulty, to balance combat with ‘challenges’, which gave plenty to contend with.
Sargon has a large number of moves, driven from a single attack button, supported by directions, including crouch and jump, plus an essential dodge manoeuvre. From this, he can string basic attacks into impressive combinations, much like a pure fighting game. These include ‘juggles’ started by smacking enemies into the air to hang like piñatas.
It is a much faster-paced game and busier than Hollow Knight within the same hours played. Less chaotic, and frankly a little silly but joyfully hilarious. As a groove, it works just fine. On top of that, though, there are special techniques that liven things up a heck of a lot.
The first is the Vengeful Counter, which interrupts a blockable enemy attack and then turns the damage against them. Timing has to be on point and you need to recognize the giveaway animation, but the resulting explosive cinematic is thrilling. Vengeful Counters work against bosses too, and that is so, so satisfying and often never happens in games. Also, hugely beneficial since this fills Sargon’s Athra Surge gauge.
Athra Surge is Sargon’s ‘super move’ and there appear to be at least seven types to unlock. We discovered ‘Verethragna’s (vera thragna’s) Smite’ where we rushed toward enemies and smashed through defenses. There’s also ‘Bahman’s Breath’ – where we created an explosion and summoned a temporary healing zone to play within. The latter is excellent in boss encounters, helpful for its stopping power as well as heals.
It speaks to the quality of The Lost Crown’s enemy roster that all of the above is necessary. There’s not much you’ll be attempting that isn’t in response to the antics of archers, shield carriers, mace twirlers and spell casters that comprise the rank and file. It rarely pays to go rushing into scenarios unprepared, without a plan or lacking confidence in Sargon’s ability. You need to size things up, note what’s needed and then execute with deadly grace.
Every ‘biome’ has its own community of horrors, which represent the theme of the place, such as Hyrcanian Forest and its leaf-cloaked assassins. Wildlife gets involved too, with giant bugs and seriously angry birds after immortal blood.
Now it must be said that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown looks extremely lovely. You can see this for yourself in the footage, but we mention it because the game is an experience that demands scrutiny. There are many secrets worth pursuing, within the walls, beneath rocks, well-hidden too. Yes, The Depths are inviting as a kind of Persian grimdark vibe. The world is brought to life with smart lighting techniques, beautifully designed textures and high-poly assets. Because the game has this whole Metroidvania set-up behind the scenes, every symbol, switch, and lever is relevant.
To sum up, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has a lot to show for itself in a fraction of the 20-25 hours Ubisoft is promising for time to complete. Also, we know from the promo footage released so far that Sargon’s powers and abilities extend far beyond what we had to enjoy.
It’s a shipshape attempt at Metroidvania for sure, as authentic to the genre as it is to the Persian myths that inspired it. Neat touches, such as Farsi voiceover which is well-performed, show the love that Ubisoft Montpelier set out with on this project. We know from Rayman Origins/Legends the level of polish to expect when it finally arrives … in January 2024. That is soon! And yes, we are very much looking forward to it.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown delivers some fast-paced and enjoyable Metroidvania gameplay within its first few hours. I got to test out the game’s combo-strung combat system that let me juggle enemies around in the air while I beat them to a pulp. The game’s Vengeful Counter also let me counter enemy attacks with a satisfying blow. This was also possible in boss fights. Not to mention the world of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown shines with Ubisoft excellence. It is teeming with hidden pathways to explore and mysteries to uncover. You can definitely feel this game has been developed by the Rayman veterans.
Be sure to check out my full hands-on preview of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown on the GLITCHED YouTube channel. The game is headed your way on 15 January so you don’t have long to wait.
Huge thanks to Paul Davies for compiling this hands-on report for us.