This year’s Summer Game Fest live stream commenced with a thrilling surprise from Ubisoft that had everyone buzzing. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown returns to its 2D roots as a captivating Metroidvania-style action-platformer. While I was immediately enchanted by its distinctive style, not everyone shared my enthusiasm. Despite the impressive showcase, the trailer received a barrage of downvotes on YouTube, accompanied by a wide range of complaints. Some lamented the shift to 2D instead of a “next-gen” 3D installment, while others criticized the use of rap music.
But let me assure you, after getting hands-on with the new Prince of Persia title, I can confidently say that those skeptics are sorely mistaken. Based on the strong half-hour I spent playing, this game is poised to be a must-play in 2024. With its fast-paced combat system and Metroid-style exploration, which felt immensely gratifying even in a short preview, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is more than capable of triumphing over the wave of negativity.
Discover the Depths of Combat
The demo I experienced was based on an early version of the game, limiting access to certain areas and granting me a few powers ahead of schedule. However, even with these restrictions, I was able to fully appreciate the intricacies of The Lost Crown, leaving a lasting impression.
The combat system immediately caught my attention, exceeding my initial expectations. The protagonist, Sargon, wields a sword for basic attacks and can shoot arrows with another button. It may seem straightforward, but these functions possess surprising complexity. For instance, by using the left stick while attacking, Sargon can propel a grounded enemy into the air, setting the stage for aerial combos with arrows or swift air dashes. Once the foe is brought back down, a satisfying slam attack can be executed to finalize the encounter.
This brief glimpse only scratches the surface of the combat’s potential. Holding down the arrow button allows Sargon to unleash a chakram-like projectile, which can strike enemies again as it returns. Additionally, Sargon can spend energy to perform special attacks that offer customization options (for instance, I was able to cast a healing circle by utilizing two energy bars). Furthermore, an impactful parry system allows Sargon to block most attacks with precision using the left trigger. All these intricate mechanics combine to create fast-paced battles that encourage creative strategies.
Image courtesy of Ubisoft
This harmonious blend of gameplay elements culminates in an exhilarating boss fight showcased in the demo. Facing off against a Manticore reminiscent of Metroid Dread’s Corpius battle, I had to master each of Sargon’s abilities to triumph. Navigating the monster’s poisonous tail and evading its intense body slams, I was pushed to my limits. At one climactic moment, the creature charged at me, only for me to stand my ground and execute a perfectly timed parry that triggered a visually stunning counter. This encounter exemplified the gratifying experience of mastering every aspect of the game’s combat system.
Embark on an Adventurous Tale
While combat serves as one pillar of The Lost Crown, the game also embraces the essence of a full-fledged Metroidvania, complete with secret pathways and areas that require specific power-ups to explore. As I fluidly traversed its 2D world, I discovered numerous hidden nooks and crannies, capturing the essence of reward that the genre excels in.
The enjoyment of exploration is further heightened by the game’s excellent traversal mechanics, which pay homage to the series’ origins. I effortlessly wall-jumped between spike traps, nimbly dashed beneath deadly obstacles, and gracefully swung from bar to bar to reach elusive areas. The fundamental mechanics already feel solid, granting Sargon a sense of elegance and precision in every movement. Both in and out of combat, I constantly felt in complete control.
Image used with permission by copyright holder
By the end of the demo, my appetite had been whetted, leaving me craving more. I eagerly pondered the abilities that Sargon would acquire and imagined how they would reshape both the combat and exploration aspects of the game. For instance, although I didn’t witness the character’s time powers in action, I can envision the potential for The Lost Crown to incorporate unique traversal puzzles utilizing this concept. Apart from that, I was eager to delve further into the game’s character customization, as players have the opportunity to equip relics that significantly impact Sargon’s abilities. I equipped one relic that allowed me to shoot three arrows simultaneously in a wider spread, adding an exciting new layer to my arsenal.
So, if you’ve prematurely dismissed Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown based solely on its appearance, I urge you to reconsider. While its 2D art style may appear nostalgic at first glance, make no mistake – this game is undoubtedly a modern action-platformer, much like Metroid Dread was in 2021. It effortlessly adds complexity and fluidity to its side-scrolling framework. Personally, I cannot wait to dive back into this captivating world, regardless of any unwarranted downvotes.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is set to release on January 17, 2024, for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Amazon Luna.
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