You'll love it if:
- You waited a long time for a new PoP game
- You love the Metroidvania genre
- You’re looking for a short, focused game
Not for you if:
- You expected a traditional PoP game
- You’re not a fan of 2D games
- You don’t like puzzles and exploration
Prince of Persia is one of Ubisoft’s longest-running series. And yet despite that, it slowly faded into obscurity as Assassin’s Creed became more popular. After several reboots with varying levels of success, the series is finally back with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, developed by Ubisoft Montpellier.
Unlike the last game in the series, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, this is a 2.5D Metroidvania. It features a new character, a new setting, and a new interpretation of time travel, all welcome additions. But is there space for Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown in 2024? How successful was Ubisoft Montpellier at recapturing the magic of this dormant series for new and returning players alike?
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown may not be what the series’ fans wanted, but it’s what the series needed. It’s a fun, upbeat Metroidvania with exciting combat, challenging puzzles, and a brand-new protagonist. In many ways, it’s a true return to form for Prince of Persia.
Story – Time is (Not) a River
Unlike the previous few games in the series, we don’t play as Dastan this time. Instead, Ubisoft Montpellier decided to create a fresh new character for their Metroidvania, Sargon. He’s one of The Immortals, an order of warriors tasked with protecting the prince of Persia. Early in the story, the prince is kidnapped and Sargon, along with his fellow warriors, heads to Mount Qaf to rescue him.
Shortly after arriving, however, they find traces of themselves attempting the same rescue mission already…30 years before. While the story of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown isn’t anything groundbreaking, it’s a great way to keep you exploring and looking for clues about what happened and what’s about to happen later in the story. In this aspect, the studio nailed the tone and feel of Prince of Persia. A little playful, a little mysterious, a little fairytale-like.
The Series Continuity
For better or worse, Ubisoft Montpellier decided to wipe the slate clean and reboot the series completely. You don’t need to play any of the previous games before jumping into Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Although, you owe it to yourself to try out The Sands of Time trilogy (or wait for the upcoming remake).
This makes the game easy for newcomers to pick up and enjoy without worrying about references or characters’ histories. We can only hope that this version of the series continues beyond a single game, unlike many of Ubisoft’s attempts to reboot the series before.
Gameplay – An Addictive Metroidvania Structure
If you’ve ever played games like Hollow Knight, Metroid Prime, or the Ori series, you’ll be right at home in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. You start the game with nothing but Sargon’s swords and a health potion. As you explore Mount Qaf and its different biomes, you’ll come across various abilities, helpful items, and time powers that will make exploration easier.
The game adds a clever new mechanic to the mix that allows you to mark paths, chests, and secrets you cannot access yet on your map. Once you have the ability or item you need, you can return to the spot you marked before. It’s such a small but helpful feature that more developers should take note of it when making Metroidvania games.
Surprisingly Challenging Combat
Since this is a Prince of Persia game, Sargon also has to fight numerous enemies on his journey. And just like Dastan, he’s very acrobatic, fast, and skilled with his two blades. He is also very vulnerable and can die with just a few hits. This makes it important for players to learn how to use every ability and fighting move they have quickly if they want to survive. While you can run away from almost all enemies, bosses are a different matter.
Boss encounters are exciting fights against creatively designed creatures, fighters, and other enemies which appear regularly throughout the story. And once you take down a boss, you’ll always get currency, items, and other useful rewards that’ll open up new paths for you to explore. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a masterclass in forward momentum and a sense of constant progress. While you may get stuck looking for where to go next, there are always hints and options for you to use to move forward.
No RPG Mechanics Whatsoever
In a surprising but welcome turn of events, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has no RPG mechanics to speak of. It’s a pure Metroidvania game that focuses on exploration, puzzles, and player skills. While you can incrementally boost Sargon’s health and damage by finding special items, there are no damage numbers, enemy levels, or XP to gather. This is a major positive for a Ubisoft game and it’s such a joy to play a game that respects the players’ abilities while rewarding them for their curiosity and creativity.
Time Powers – The Core of Prince of Persia
It’s not a Prince of Persia game if it doesn’t have time travel and time powers. While the mechanic was introduced in The Sands of Time, it has been used in every game since. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is no exception, and Sargon will quickly get his first power once you begin exploring Mount Qaf.
Six completely different time powers will make it easier for you to reach new areas and fight enemies in creative ways. And unlike the previous games, these powers don’t require a separate energy bar to function. You can use them as much as you want to, often without any cooldown. It’s important to remember this, because Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will often ask you to complete very challenging puzzles or navigation sections and you’ll have to use everything in your arsenal to accomplish your goals.
Visuals – Striking, Refreshing Art Style
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is its art style. Ever since the game’s reveal, it has been a divisive part of the game. It’s a colourful, vivid blend of comic-book-style handpainted elements brought to life with the Unity engine. For a 2.5D Metroidvania game, however, this style turned out to be the perfect choice.
It’s very easy to spot enemies, traps, rewards, items, and other things as you move through the levels. You’ll never be lost or confused about what direction you should go, or what you can interact with. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an example of how developers should approach accessibility in their games. The game has options for high contrast, HUD size, alternative fonts, and exploration assistance to make the experience more approachable and suitable for every type of player.
Great Optimization from Day One
One of the most surprising parts of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is its optimization. While it relies on the Unity engine, it’s also very well-optimized and bug-free. We encountered no FPS drops, bugs, or crashes during our review on the Xbox Series X. More importantly, the game’s controls are very responsive and everything loads very quickly. In the age of games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, playing a game that simply works straight from the box feels like a small miracle. But that’s exactly what Ubisoft Montpellier achieved here and it’s a point worth mentioning.
Audio – Arcadey and Upbeat Sound Design
Since Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an AA title, its sound design follows suit. Given that this is a 2.5D Metroidvania, you don’t need an immersive audio design to enjoy the game. However, what’s here works well. Every move you make, the power you use, or the chest you open will play a rewarding sound that’ll make you chase the next one immediately after.
It’s an addicting arcade formula that works very well for the genre. Ubisoft Montpellier did great in ensuring every sound was clear in communicating what the player had done on screen. Apart from that, the game is fully localized in 5 languages, including Farsi. For the best experience, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown lets you play it entirely with voiced Farsi dialogue, and since there’s no speaking during gameplay, you may as well give it a shot. While this is not a game with an accurate historical setting like Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, for example, it’s still a nice touch.
Conclusion: Should you Play Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown?
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the perfect way for you to start your gaming year. It’s a 2.5D Metroidvania with brisk pacing, an intriguing story, and combat that’ll challenge you to learn new abilities if you want to survive. It’s a 30-hour adventure that respects your time, rewards your creativity, and gives you a constant feeling of progression.
In a way, it’s one of the best games Ubisoft has published in recent years since it’s a complete package with all content present on release. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the series, or someone curious about what Prince of Persia is all about, you should definitely give this title a try. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown launches on January 18th on PC, Xbox, Playstation consoles, and the Nintendo Switch. It’s also available on day one on Ubisoft+.