Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a Glorious Return to Roots

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Preview

There’s no doubt that for many gamers, The Prince of Persia evokes a strong sense of nostalgia. The franchise first appeared in 1989 and has never entirely disappeared, so gamers of every generation have probably played a Prince of Persia title on one platform or another. But it has been over 13 years since the series’s last non-mobile entry. The Prince is due for a comeback, if not a total re-invention. After playing several hours of the upcoming game, I can say that The Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown might be the perfect entry point for new gamers and a rich reward for long-time fans.

Princely Deja Vu

What’s old is new, as they say, so The Lost Crown brings the franchise back to its platforming roots. The new game is a 2D action-puzzle platformer that is neither a sequel, prequel, or reboot. The story centers on a new iteration of the title character, a dual sword-wielding hero Prince named Sargon. Sargon and his fellow Immortals celebrate a battlefield victory. Suddenly, Prince Ghasson is kidnapped and Sargon’s warrior clan travels to Mount Qaf to rescue him. The demo only hinted at the 25-hour game’s unfolding narrative. 

When the game’s trailer was released, some gamers complained (imagine that! Gamers complaining on the internet!) about Sargon not being the Prince of Persia and the game not being The Sands of Time remake that Ubisoft long promised. To their credit, the developers have taken the toxic comments in stride, assuring fans that the new game would move the franchise forward.

From my hours with the game, I’d say they succeeded. A lot has changed in the Metroidvania/action genre over the past several decades. The Lost Crown does a great job of feeling contemporary. There’s no stamina management, but dodging, sliding, and parrying are now at the core of combat, along with light and heavy attacks. Engaging in combat fills Sargon with Athra’s Glow and the ability to use special attacks. Sargon also finds amulets that provide boosts to healing or attack power, for example.

Accessible to All

There are a large number of accessibility settings that allow players to fine-tune combat to a comfortable level of challenge, from increasing Athra’s Glow to assisting with platforming. The developers clearly want to make The Lost Crown an enjoyable experience for everyone from platforming novices to seasoned action gamers. At the higher difficulty settings, the game is extremely exacting. I’m awful at platformers, but I found a comfort zone that didn’t frustrate me. 

While neither a Soulslike or a roguelike, The Lost Crown borrows a few mechanics and level design ideas from both. Healing checkpoints are rare, though Sargon can eventually acquire the ability to place his own (a little like Lords of the Fallen). In pure Metroidvania fashion, there are a lot of shortcuts, hidden areas, and inaccessible loot, only reachable later in the game. The game encourages the player to lay down markers on the map, so specific spots can be revisited.

The first few hours of the game do an excellent job onboarding players and easing them into the mechanics of combat, movement, and puzzle solving.  Movement is fluid and combat is a lot of fun, with a very satisfying parry mechanic. The biggest gripe I had during the demo was that the critical path wasn’t always clear. It’s easy to wander into areas for which our Prince is not prepared. Of course, that can be part of the fun of action RPGs, too. 

A Convincing Argument

At first, The Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown feels like a lot of other 2D action games from the past few years. It doesn’t take long, however, for the game’s identity to come through. The colorful visuals, flexible movement, and distinctive combat get progressively more interesting.

Overall, this new version of The Prince of Persia is both a jolt of nostalgia and an exciting update. The Lost Crown’s level design and mechanics feel both classic and contemporary. The art style is attractive and while the game might not be what some fans were expecting, The Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown should please a lot of players.

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