The Rogue Prince of Persia Is a Timeless Majesty

The Rogue Prince of Persia Early Access Review

After a 14-year hiatus, 2024 sees Ubisoft release two Prince of Persia games in the space of 4 months. While both share the same 2D perspective, The Rogue Prince of Persia distinguishes itself through its addictive gameplay loop, stylized aesthetic, and drip-fed narrative. This makes each new run a captivating experience that evolves with time. With Dead Cells co-developer, Evil Empire, at the helm, will this new entry possess the regal quality needed to reign supreme amidst the abundance of roguelike titles?

Determined to prove yourself as a worthy successor to the crown, you decide to bypass your father’s instructions and take it upon yourself to protect the land’s citizens. After facing the large threat of the Huns, you succumb to their army’s powerful magic and sheer volume. As they seize the capital, you flee with your mentor. With redemption at the forefront of your mind, you use the mystical bola to rewind time and learn from your previous mistakes to save Persia. Each time you dig a little deeper into the narrative and learn about the supporting cast and their incentives. Evil Empire skillfully intertwines story and gameplay, giving more purpose to delve back into the world for another run.

Take a Bow

Just like Dead Cells, The Rogue Prince of Persia is a slick and stylish action-filled adventure. You will need to quickly react and respond to the variety of enemies and situations you find yourself in to reach the next area. Combat is fast, so you must use every skill available to overcome obstacles. You can unleash a series of quick attacks, charge to deliver a devastating blow or kick your opponent across the screen, stunning them and allowing you to take advantage of the situation. In addition to this, you can also leap over your opponent to avoid incoming attacks and strike from above to be the ultimate weapon.

The level of choice that permeates the game allows you to alter the experience at each stage. In terms of weapons, you can select between daggers, a javelin, a tabard, and much more. Each is different and changes how you approach battles. For example, the claws allow you to quickly release a series of strikes with a special triggering with each kill. Conversely, the broadsword is a slower two-handed heavy weapon with a more deadly impact. You also have access to projectile items to harm foes from afar. These continue the same trend of offering fantastic variety to allow you to personalize your experience. In addition to conventional items like the bow, you can also use a grappling hook to pull enemies closer and Berude’s gauntlet to perform a huge ground smash. All of these elements combine to create an intoxicating combat system that will keep you hooked for hours on end.

Majestic Movement

The franchise is renowned for its elegant movement that allows the Prince to effortlessly parkour across the environment. The Rogue Prince of Persia’s implementation of this ethos is remarkable. Each location includes design features that allow you to wall run from platform to platform by holding the trigger. There’s a surprising level of freedom with this as the scenery and backgrounds are interactable. This means any wall is useable to reach your desired location. Evil Empire even includes challenge rooms dedicated to platforming segments which helps to capture the spirit of the series. Narrowly dodging spikes and timing your jumps to avoid spinning blades has never felt better and helps to embed the franchise into the Roguelike genre.

Maps are procedurally generated with Wells dispersed that allow you to fast travel across the area. This is useful for revisiting the merchant, forging weapons, or quickly collecting leftover items. Fast travel simplifies exploring regions with deviating paths, making it much easier to fully discover the entire area. This is particularly important as you will want to customize your build in preparation for upcoming, harder sections.

The Crown Jewels

You will periodically come across medallions on your run and can equip up to four at a time. Each has several levels and you can upgrade these by sacrificing medallions for new ones that will complement your abilities. The medallions vary with some emitting knives upon use, increasing your health or rewarding energy allowing you to create a unique build for your run. These perks and other weapons can be purchased in the hub area which will increase the probability of stumbling across these in subsequent playthroughs. Due to this, you gradually have more options available creating diverse methods to reach your objective.

Each aspect of the presentation is spectacular. The comic book-style visuals with vibrant colors help to distinguish the game from other releases in the franchise. Performance is solid with only the odd hiccup in its current early access state. Combined with the Eastern-infused soundtrack and impact sound effects, the overall design is sumptuous and is an ideal way to refresh the series with a new and exciting twist.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is a brave and beautiful step in a new direction. Sprinting through the area feels incredible, thanks to the seamless integration of parkour into the gameplay. Combat is fast and slick, creating an addictive quality that keeps you coming back for more. Currently in early access, the future for the latest iteration in the Prince’s tale has the potential to be the crown jewel of the series.

***A Steam code provided by the publisher for review***