It’s crazy to think that a series as beloved as Prince of Persia hasn’t seen a new release since 2010. I guess it makes some sense, especially since Assassin’s Creed scratches that action-orientated parkour itch for Ubisoft, but its fall from prominence was certainly unexpected. Well, it might’ve taken fourteen years, but we finally have a new release in the series, with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown reimagining the adventure with a Metroidvania-style twist. And you know what? It’s an absolutely sublime experience that acts as a masterclass example of the genre.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Interestingly, you don’t actually play as the titular prince in the game. Instead, you take on the role of Sargon, one of seven warriors that make up an elite group known as the Immortals that protect the kingdom of Persia. That’s not to say that the prince doesn’t have a starring role though, with him instead being kidnapped and taken to Mount Qaf. It’s up to Sargon and his fellow Immortals to rescue him, but of course, there are underlying secrets within this labyrinthian locale that need unravelling along the way. With Sargon forced to journey alone after being separated from his comrades, he has to get to the bottom of the mystery and ensure the prince is brought home to safety.
For the most part, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown embraces the typical hallmarks of the Metroidvania genre with its gameplay. You’ve got a massive 2.5D environment to explore that spans across varied biomes, there are plenty of platforming challenges that’ll demand pixel-perfect precision to get through, there are areas that’ll be seemingly inaccessible until you have the right ability to explore them, and there are plenty of enemies to battle along the way in engaging free-flowing combat (as well as huge bosses that’ll really put your skills to the test). So far, so familiar, right?
Well, whilst Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown doesn’t necessarily redefine the genre with its core mechanics, the way that it impeccably delivers every element of its design is bedazzling. Sargon feels fantastic to control in the game, whether that’s when pulling off pinpoint manoeuvres to speed through some hazardous platforming segments or quickly leaping out of the way of some incoming threat. When you add his special abilities to the mix, he becomes even more enthralling to play as. Sure, double-jumping or dashing through the air is cool, but creating shadow clones to teleport around your surroundings? I loved it.
“It’s wonderfully crafted to get a perfect flow of combat and traversal, but also features expert level design to ensure that exploring Mount Qaf and uncovering its secrets is always a thrill.”
Combat is equally tantalising, with players utilising a variety of weapons to get the upper hand over their foes. Whilst Sargon is certainly formidable, there’s also an emphasis on playing things defensively and evading or parrying enemy attacks, which ensures that encounters boil down to more than just mashing attacks (though there are plenty of enemies who you’ll quickly slice through with minimal fuss). Players will also build up their Athra meter in-battle, which when filled can be used to activate a variety of different abilities known as Athra Surges. These unlock as you progress through the game and you can only have two equipped at a time, but offer some stylishly brutal attacks that can REALLY dish out some damage to foes. Whether dealing explosive attacks, blasting through defences, teleporting Sargon to strike down from above, or simply boosting your abilities momentarily, they’re genuinely exciting game-changers that always give you that one extra trick up your sleeve.
What complements the action is the impressive variety of enemies you face, with some wonderfully designed creatures that’ll attack from all angles to keep players on their toes. There’s a perfect balance of platforming and combat that keeps players consistently tested, with neither ever blending together too much to put players in tricky predicaments that grow more frustrating than anything as you try to avoid inescapable hazards mid-fight. And the boss fights? They’re marvellous, with some genuinely challenging showdowns against mighty beasts that look jaw-dropping in motion.
Maybe it’s because I’ve played so many indie Metroidvania-style titles over the last few years that haven’t had the same budget, but there’s just this air of quality to Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown that really helps it stand tall over its contemporaries. It’s wonderfully crafted to get a perfect flow of combat and traversal, but also features expert level design to ensure that exploring Mount Qaf and uncovering its secrets is always a thrill. I’ll admit, I’ve never been the type of player to try and discover every corner of a map when playing a Metroidvania-style game, but everything felt so damn good here that I wanted to see it all.
Check out some screenshots down below:
And one of the best features of all? The Memory Shards. Players are able to place special Memory Shards that essentially take a photo of the area you’re in and pin it to the map. You can then always check that photo for reference, whether that’s in an area you want to re-visit later, a route that’s temporarily inaccessible, or just a locale that looked so pretty that you just want to admire it again and again. It’s easy to get lost in Metroidvania-style titles or completely forget areas that you meant to explore later, but this one feature completely alleviates that issue and makes exploration more engaging. Hopefully, it’s something we see in every other Metroidvania-style release going forward, because it really is a game-changer.
I can’t end this review without mentioning the visuals, which are dazzling throughout. As a point of comparison, it looks more like The Sands of Time than any other title in the series, though brings with it richer colours and more personality across both its character and world design. It looks fantastic, with its elements of realism and fantasy coming together perfectly to ensure it’s a real treat on the eyes.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is absolutely brilliant, with the excellent combat and traversal of the game complemented by a wonderful world to explore. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily try to re-invent the Metroidvania genre, the way that it delivers every aspect of its design is simply sublime, whether that’s when leaping across the expertly crafted platforming segments or taking on enemies in intense action sequences. The allure of the world design encouraged me to explore every corner of it, whilst the boss battles offer some jaw-dropping sequences that bring each element of the experience together in spectacular fashion.
It’s just an amazing game and a wonderful new direction for the Prince of Persia series to take. It’s left me genuinely excited to see what’s next for the series – here’s hoping it won’t be another fourteen years before we get to see it…
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch