We had the opportunity to check out Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown ahead of its release to see if the revival of the iconic franchise is any good.
I’m a relative latecomer to the Prince of Persia franchise. I never had the chance to play any of the games growing up and didn’t encounter the classic Sands of Time game until adulthood. However, I’ve seen more than enough to know that Prince of Persia is rightfully considered an iconic game series and I was excited to hear that, 14 years later, a new Prince of Persia game was finally being released.
For this review, I played the game on Playstation 5 using the equivalent of Easy Mode.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown
Platform: Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: January 18, 2024
In keeping with the general theme of the franchise, the story is set in ancient Persia, though where it might take place in time relative to the Sands of Time trilogy is unclear. It’s hard to say because Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown does not follow the iconic Prince. Instead, the player assumes the role of Sargon, a legendary warrior tasked by the Queen of Persia to travel to Mount Qaf on an extremely important mission. Once Sargon and his companions arrive, however, it quickly becomes clear that larger events are in motion, as they find themselves in a world where time is literally out of joint.
The game world is absolutely gorgeous. From the royal palace in Persepolis, to the mysterious citadel of Mount Qaf, each area is filled with beautiful imagery. There were several times I had to pause to examine the background because it was just that detailed. It’s certainly just as detailed as the Prince of Persia games released in the past.
One detail that immediately sets Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown apart from its predecessors is its side-scrolling format. This isn’t an open world, nor is it done in the traditional 3D style where you can pivot the camera around as you move. Instead, Ubisoft opted to make this game a straight side-scroller, which harkens back to the franchise’s roots. The change doesn’t make it any less awesome, though, as it plays beautifully and feels like it belongs in the same world, even if the gameplay is different.
The game comes with four preset difficulty levels: Rookie, Warrior, Hero and Immortal. There’s also a unique Custom option. This allows players to manually tweak the game’s various settings until they find a balance that works for them.
Even when you do end up dying, the game is fairly forgiving. If you die on an obstacle, you’re just sent to your previous position. If you die in a boss fight however, you’re given the option to retry the battle or go back to a save point. There’s no punishment regardless of the choice made, leaving the player free to take a step back if a fight is proving difficult.
The combat controls take some getting used to, but it’s nothing a little trial and error won’t fix. As with any game of this type, timing is key, so there will definitely be a few misses before you start to hit certain moves effectively.
One thing that’s important to note: if you don’t want to get pulverized, you WILL need to make use of the dodge feature. Spamming the attack button will not help you, especially in boss battles. Moreso, the game twists things around by including some enemies you actually need to avoid while making your way through an area. These types can’t be missed, and if you DO try to engage, you’re in for a big surprise…One that definitely caught me off guard.
The platforming sections are incredibly detailed. Some of the platforming areas are really tricky, requiring precise sequences of jumps and dashes to get across without instantly dying. If you (like me) struggle with this aspect of games, however, then I have fantastic news for you: The Lost Crown has a feature that lets players skip past particularly difficult platforming sections. This ability can be toggled at will and is an absolute game changer.
I freely admit I’m not particularly good at platforming games and mechanics like this make it possible for players to get further into the story without fear of getting stuck at an obstacle they just can’t get past. Best of all, the game doesn’t punish the player for making use of this option, leaving you free to try the platforming section…or not.
The puzzle sections are also a lot of fun to work through. As far as I know, none of the accessibility features affect how the puzzles are completed, so it shows that Ubisoft took the time to make the puzzles just difficult enough to be thought provoking, but not so hard you’re forced to give up.
Game-Changing Accessibility Features
I’ve mentioned them a few times, but I have to re-iterate; the Ubisoft team knocked it out of the park with the accessibility features they created for Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. When they said they wanted to make this game available to everyone, they meant it.
There are high contrast options so players with visual impairment can play, the aforementioned skip that lets you get past difficult platforming areas, there are even features that let you tweak how much damage you take from enemies. These and more can all be changed at any time and it shows just how much thought was put into making this game accessible.
I can’t overstate just how much of a game changer this is. I know I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far in the game without a few of these features. While I love the Metroidvania type of game very much, it is far from my forte. I was genuinely concerned that I wouldn’t get very far at all as these games can be notoriously difficult (take Hollow Knight for example). However, these accessibility features have made it possible to go as far in the game as you like, even if you usually struggle with platforming games. Hopefully other studios follow this example and include similar features in their games moving forward.
A Franchise Reborn?
In conclusion, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is everything I could’ve wanted from a reboot of the series. The Metroidvania genre suits this story perfectly and this could easily be the launching point for an entire new series of Prince of Persia games. If Ubisoft can make them all as good as this one, then the series has surely been reborn and will continue for years to come.
Whether you’re a newcomer to Prince of Persia or you’ve played every game ever made in the series, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is solid proof that the iconic story lives again albeit in a slightly different form. I highly recommend checking this game out.