Interview: Ubisoft Producer Abdelhak Elguess on Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown and its newest features

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is right around the corner, bringing with it the return of an age-old franchise with some new tricks up its sleeve. We got the chance to speak to Abdelhak Elguess, Producer at Ubisoft, about the upcoming game and its newest features.

Thank you Abdelhak for taking the time to speak to us here at The AU Review about the upcoming Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

First things first. I’m a huge fan of the Prince of Persia franchise and I’ve loved what we’ve seen from this game so far. I love this new style and fresh approach, and I’ve been waiting a while now for something new in the series, I am just glad to be back on board.

What inspired this approach and the general return to the Prince of Persia franchise?

What we really wanted to do is respect the legacy, but come up with something new and modern. The brand has been around for a long time so we obviously didn’t want to do something old. We wanted to modernise all the elements, the narrative, the combat system, and the general format. What we wanted to do was look after the feeling players had in older Prince of Persia games, especially the Sands of Time and the first game from 1989, but also bring something fresh.

Our influences on the combat system came from various elements like the animation from the Spider-Verse films and also anime and manga,  because we wanted to have spectacular combat with strong animation, something that’s always been very important to Prince of Persia. We also wanted a new take on Persian elements and to explore the mythology. In the past, Prince of Persia was more about the 19th century in Persia, so we wanted to go to the mythology because it’s such a rich element. It’s still Prince of Persia when you play the game but stands among more contemporary games. The music also had that same intention, with instruments from Persian cultures, but also to bring some modernity to it.

Is there anything that stands out to you that sets The Lost Crown apart from previous games in the franchise?

Many things, I think the first one is to modernise gameplay to the point where everything can be combined, as you can combine many abilities with other abilities. We had decided also to take some elements of the legacy like the rewind we had in Sands of Time and to give it to the antagonist and bring new time powers to fight that kind of power. We also wanted to bring the feeling of iterations we had in other Prince of Persia games, bringing it into the Metroidvania style where you can explore, but at the same time for narrative purposes bring some friends like the Immortals.

There are many things we have decided to take, to either twist them, like giving the power to the main antagonist or keep them, like the overall performance system.

Did this game start as a singular spin-off, or do you think there’s potential for this type of game as a new series to bring back Prince of Persia moving forward?

When we decided to do the game, we weren’t thinking about it as a spin-off. For us, this was a new Prince of Persia. We wanted this to be a side scroller, but that doesn’t mean all future Prince of Persia games need to be a side scroller either.

I take the example of Mario, as some are in 3D, and some are in 2D. Their experience is always different, but at the same time, it is always a Mario game. What is interesting about this being built in 3D but being a side scroller, is that you’re really able to push forward the platforming aspect, which is harder to do with a 3D camera. You can also push the combat like in 2D fighting games, so there are many advantages in terms of the experience. But it shows that at the same time, Prince of Persia could also be a very big 3D game.

Without spoiling too much, what single new feature are you excited most for people to experience in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown?

Do I need to choose just one? I think the most fun feature is the new teleporting rewind ability because it’s really a new way of playing with time, where you are always in control.

When you use the rewind in Sands of Time,  everything is stopped and everything is coming back to the past. With this one, you are still moving forward in time, so it’s easier to express yourself. The more you play, you can also use the teleport with an amulet to combine with other powers. You can use them in combat, in puzzles and in platforming, so for me, it’s a very modern approach in terms of game design. Of course, there are other features, but I’ve chosen this one.

Thank you Abdelhak for chatting with us today, we’re super excited. I’m a massive fan, and I’m keen to get back in to experience some more. 

Thank you very much, I’m very happy to hear this, and to hear so many people are excited about this game.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown launches on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Serioes X/S, Xbox One and Windows PC on the 18th of January. Be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming review. 

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.