How long has it been since we’ve seen a new Prince Of Persia? Since 2010, that’s when. That year Ubisoft released the last game in the series, the not-so-bright Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and has since put the franchise on indefinite hiatus. Except for an unremarkable remake of Prince Of Persia 2: The Shadow And The Flame in 2013, in fact for 14 years the brand enjoyed no new exponents and seemed destined to remain in the scrapbook.
And it certainly it was announced in 2020 but then disappeared into thin air and is still awaiting release. Fate seemed to be rowing against the Prince, but suddenly Ubisoft Montpellier does the trick: out of nowhere comes Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown, a brand new Metroidvania-style adventure with 2.5D graphics that finally brings the franchise back into the picture. And after nearly five decades of absence, we couldn’t have a better return.
Between past and present
As early as the trial of the demo of Prince of Persia The Lost Crown we guessed that this new chapter in the saga would be different from the usual: embracing a two-dimensional approach in pure Metroidvania style, Ubisoft Montpellier’s work aims to pay homage to the origins of the 2D series while jumping into one of the most popular genres of recent years (particularly in the indie scene), so as to experience something that has never seen before in the brand.
And among the major points of break with the past should be noted a completely unprecedented protagonist, who is not the usual nameless prince seen in the other games but rather a warrior named Sargon belonging to the de The Immortals, who at the beginning of the adventure protect Persia by repelling the onslaught of the Kushan Empire, thus being welcomed as heroes by Queen Thomyris and the Prince Ghassan once they return home. Not even time to enjoy the victory and celebration that Ghassan is kidnapped by Anahita, Sargon’s mentor, and taken to the mysterious Mount Qaf.
Sargon and his fellow Immortals will therefore head to the remote mountain in an attempt to rescue the young prince But what was supposed to be a rescue mission for our warrior soon turns into a struggle for survival both because of the dangerous pitfalls of Mount Qaf and because of a conspiracy that threatens to change the face of Persia forever.
Now, the plot is not exactly the main focus of the work and often remains on the sidelines with several themes barely sketched out and, therefore, never fully explored. Nonetheless, the story still has its engaging moments, especially in the final stages, and is ultimately enjoyable to follow without too much pretension. The real star of the Ubisoft title is, in fact, the gameplay that is so polished and surprising that it will leave even those who live by bread and Metroidvania amazed.
The Prince of Persia you don’t expect
The first few minutes alone are enough to realize the potential of The Lost Crown. While presenting itself as a classically structured Metroidvania, every single component of the game is so enhanced that it creates an idyllically painted picture. What shines is not only the combat system – fluid and frenetic that allows for a good variety of attacks, combos and defensive maneuvers – but also an excellently calibrated degree of challenge while at the same time never taking the player by the hand by pushing him to make the most of each of Sargon’s techniques and special powers.
The difficulty grows in tandem With the development of the character, which, a little at a time, unlocks new abilities and finds special amulets that allow access to additional bonuses aimed at giving more and more depth to the great battles ahead (if you have just begun the adventure, here is our Guide with some tricks and tips for starting Prince of Persia The Lost Crown). And if already the bestiary can be called respectable both in terms of variety of enemies and specific strategies to deal with them, the flagship of the combat system are the Boss Fights, simply one more beautiful than the other.
It is at these junctures that the gameplay is at its best, spurring the player to unleash his entire repertoire as he carefully studies the enemy’s movements to figure out how to effectively counter his offensive. The great effort shown by Ubisoft Montpellier in the fighting is commendable: they have neglected practically nothing in terms of variety, balance and genuine spectacularity to the point that every confrontation, even the seemingly simplest one, manages to keep us glued to the screen thanks to its indemonious rhythms and the many possibilities offered by the many powers and resources we can use to our advantage.
The Lost Crown: not just epic battles
Woe betide, however, to consider Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown merely a long and successful sequence of combat. The soul of the game also includes platforming and exploration phases that are just as compelling, if not more challenging than the battles we experience between scenarios. This is because the studio has literally shown off its utmost creativity both in the conception of the vast game map, which is masterfully designed with an astonishing complexity, and in the maniacal care of the Platform, which has been painstakingly studied in every minute aspect.
Certain sequences, almost worthy of a Rhythm Game, require absolute attention in the movements and timing of jumps, and the great thing is that with each new area discovered there are always unprecedented surprises and unexpected situations awaiting us where you really have to bring out the best in your reflexes: The Lost Crown invites the player to reveal every single corner of the map, stimulated by the treasures and rewards to be recovered, such as collectibles aimed at deepening the adventure lore or “economic” resources to be exchanged for information, upgrades to our equipment, and improvement of potions both in effectiveness and maximum quantity.
It is worth getting lost in the pitfalls and wonders of Mount Qaf, which can be freely explored provided, however, that you have unlocked the skills necessary to continue through otherwise inaccessible places. In this sense, there is also to be said. The Lost Crown also tries solutions other than the usual Metroidvania from the perspective of “power-ups”: in addition to the more classic ones, such as the ever-present double jump, there are also other more special and sophisticated abilities that allowed the authors to experiment with unusual but nevertheless successful game design ideas. .
And what about the many environmental puzzles that we cross during the adventure? Some of these proved ingenious and sophisticated enough to provide great stimulation, prompting us in some cases to really squeeze our brains in an attempt to get to the bottom of yet another puzzle. All this without forgetting the presence of a few side quests, nothing too complex, but perfectly functional to enhance even more the concept of exploration at the heart of the game.
And all this wonder accompanies us for at least 15 hours, respectable longevity given its genre, not to mention the side activities to be completed, the power-ups to be improved, and the map to be scoured far and wide, aspects that can further increase the overall campaign duration of Prince of Persia The Lost Crown. In the face of all this it is really hard to find concrete limits: everything works so well that on the playful level there are no noteworthy smears. Then again, from a team like Ubisoft Montpellier that in the past has given us the Rayman series, the original Beyond Good & Evil and Valiant Hearts, one could hardly expect less.
Art for sale
Here, perhaps the graphics in the strict sense may not be top notch: the graphics compartment is valuable but fails to push the possibilities given by the Unity Engine to the fullest, leaving the feeling that a little more could have been done as well. This, however, does not detract from the fact that in purely technical terms The Lost Crown works and well too with granitic 60fps, virtually nonexistent loading and a lack of compromising bugs or glitches (minus just the occasional smear).
But in terms of art, the discourse is quite different, thanks mainly to often brilliant and in some circumstances even evocative characterization of scenery. There is no doubt about it, Mount Qaf knows how to be appreciated even from a purely aesthetic perspective. And while perhaps the character design may not convince all palates, it must still be said that the characterization of the enemies appears inspired enough to give the production an extra touch of personality.
Topping it all off is an atmospheric musical accompaniment that further emphasizes the aura of mystery that surrounds all of Mount Qaf and makes the battles more engaging, thanks to apt and instantly catchy compositions. A few reservations just about the English-language dubbing (no Italian this time), which perhaps could have been acted with a little more effort and in a more heartfelt way for certain sequences but in any case does its job decently.
Thank you Ubisoft!
Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown is the best possible and imaginable comeback for a franchise that has been stationary for more than a decade, reappearing on the scene quite different than in the past and perhaps, because of this, managing to surprise beyond the wildest expectations. We are not looking at just any Metroidvania: while starting again from the well-established foundations of the genre, Ubisoft Montpellier has really put heart and soul into the project, elevating it in every tiny component. From the combat system to bosses, from exploration to environmental puzzles, through, finally, the characterization of a map all to be discovered.
The end result is thus a long-to-the-point and exciting adventure from start to finish that always knows how to amaze, thanks in part to a challenging difficulty designed to go hand in hand with the players’ progress and the development of our Immortal warrior. If you are among those who expressed initial skepticism about the project, perhaps because you were hoping for a three-dimensional return of Prince Of Persia, give it a chance instead-it may truly leave you speechless.
Very often there is a tendency to speak of Ubisoft in a not particularly positive way, seen by many as a company that thinks only from a business perspective thus limiting itself to producing games that are all too similar to each other without much creativity and aimed only at a mass audience without much pretension. Ubisoft with Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown proves that, when it wants to, it knows how to surprise fans. And if he demonstrated this same passion with each and every project, he would be among the most beloved companies among enthusiasts today without question.