The Prince of Persia franchise might have been in hibernation for the past few years, but there’s no doubt that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, the latest entry in the franchise, looked to bring things back to the old school. With the franchise beginning back in 1989 as a 2D side-scrolling adventure, it’s simply wonderful to see how far the franchise has come, while remaining faithful to its roots.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a fast and frenetic experience that largely succeeds in delivering smooth gameplay and an intriguing narrative. While the overall experience takes a couple hours to find its groove, there’s plenty to love about this new Prince of Persia resurgence.
Bring Him Home
Never played a game in the franchise before? Have no fear. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown takes place in a completely separate continuity from the previous games, and has players taking on the role of Sargon, a member of the Immortals, a group otherwise known as a collection of Persia’s greatest warriors.
After proving himself in battle, Sargon is tasked with keeping the Prince Ghassan safe. Naturally, Ghassan is kidnapped by Anahita, one of Sargon’s mentors, as he and the Immortals pursue her to Mount Qaf, a mystical city where time flows differently, and not all is as it seems.
For as easy as the story is to follow, it also does a great job at gradually unraveling the mystery, which takes notes from previous entries in the franchise, in taking some of the elements of time travel and reintroducing them in new and exciting ways. The narrative takes an hour or so to get going after a lengthy tutorial, but does find its footing rather evenly for the remaining 10-or-so hours.
The Journey Forward… or Back?
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is very much a traditional 2D Metroidvania side-scroller, where players are not only tasked with advancing through the world of Mount Qaf, but circling back around to previously inaccessible areas with newly gained abilities.
You’ll gain plenty of new time-bending abilities to mix along with new traversal and combat abilities, which are eventually and inevitably only useful when combined. The Shadow of Simurgh is a real highlight, where you can mark a location with a decoy and teleport back to it when necessary. It allows you to manipulate situations all while being in complete control, some that most abilities gained later on in the narrative bear as well.
Along the way, Sargon will defeat enemies to gather crystals, which can be used as currency to purchase upgrades and abilities of various vendors, like extra health potions, or amulet enhancements.
Amulets can also be found throughout the story, to give Sargon certain perks from damage buffs to bolstering certain combat moves with speed or accuracy. They can be added and altered at any checkpoint in the game, encouraging players to mess around with each amulet and its effects.
Combat is rather simplistic, but equally chaotic when paired with your dash and heavy attacks. Sargon also gains access to a bow for ranged combat. Most enemies are subject to their own attack patterns and habits, while multiple boss battles shake up the challenge and ramp up the overall difficulty. They’re evenly distributed throughout each of Mount Qaf’s unique locations, so that combat and platforming never wear themselves thin.
The experience prides itself on discovery and exploration as you unlock new areas, but it’s also nice to be able to fine tune the type of experience you want to have. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown offers two ways to play, one being a guided experience, which highlights objectives and areas of interest on your map, and the other being an exploratory one, which allows you to uncover the rest and learn the map on your own. There’s even a really cool feature which allows you to take a snapshot of a certain area, should you ever need to come back and sort things out.
Look the Part
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown opts in for a more stylised look, but sticks the landing. It’s slick, colourful and edgy, all while remaining consistently exciting and fresh. Thanks to the unique environments and various character models, there’s plenty to gawk at around every corner.
Things run well too, with every platform allowing for 60fps goodness, with next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X options providing 120fps performance options, which I personally recommend for a game like this.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a wonderful action platformer that largely succeeds at refining and modernising an age-old formula. It’s fun to play, the story is intriguing enough to keep you progressing and the overall look and feel is generally as polished as you can get.
While it takes a little bit of time to find its footing, it’s well worth playing, for younger, older, casual and hardcore fans alike.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Engaging narrative; Satisfying gameplay; Plenty of upgrades; Slick visuals
Lowlights: Lengthy tutorial; Takes and hour or two to find its groove
Developer: Ubisoft, Ubisoft Montpellier
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Windows PC
Review conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.