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April 2024

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Jan. 18, 2024


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PS5 Review - 'Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 11, 2024 @ 9:00 a.m. PST

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an action-adventure platformer game set in a mythological Persian world.

Buy Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

It's been a while since we've had a new Prince of Persia title. Aside from 2009's The Forgotten Sands, the franchise has been all but dormant, barring the unlucky The Sands of Time remake. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the franchise's first full reboot since the 2008 attempt, taking the basic concept of Persian mythology and platforming and bringing it to the genre that it seemed made for: Metroidvania. Thankfully, this particular combination is like peanut butter and chocolate, and it's a more than worthy return for the classic series.

For once, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown does not follow the Prince of Persia. Instead, players take on the role of Sargon, who is a member of the Immortals — the Queen's elite guards. When Sargon's mentor kidnaps the royal heir, the Immortals are sent to rescue him. Their trail leads them to Mount Qaf, a mountain where time has broken and the past, present and future are jumbled together. Sargon must find a way through the distorted remains of the mountain and rescue the prince before he meets an untimely fate.

The plot in Prince of Persia is largely predictable but is bolstered by a sense of excess and escalation that is rarely seen outside of JRPGs. You start with a simple quest, and as the game progresses, you'll encounter things that rend asunder demons, gods, space-time, and more. The game wears its anime inspiration on its sleeve, and eagle-eyed fans will notice more than a few unsubtle references. The mix of Prince of Persia aesthetics and full-on anime create something that is distinctive but doesn't really feel original.

While the story is average, the gameplay is fantastic. At its core, the basics of The Lost Crown are standard for a 2D platformer. You can run, jump, slide, attack, and parry. Most of it functions as expected, but thankfully, the basic gameplay is buttery smooth and incredibly easy to pick up and play. It's a delight how well the game plays, and I was able to hop in and play with basically no real tutorial. A lot of it is familiar if you play Metroidvania titles, but it's familiar in a good way.

Combat is straightforward. You have close-range swords and a long-range bow/chakram hybrid, and you can mix both into longer combos. Both can be charged, with the sword gaining a long-range wave of energy and the bow transforming into its chakram form that is slower but has unlimited ammo. A major component of the combat is about mixing up various options into long air combos. Early on, you can only get in a few hits, but as the game progresses and you get more upgrades to your abilities, you can execute lengthy and powerful combo strings.

Also critical to The Lost Crown is the parry mechanic. This is largely standard to the genre, with attacks being something you can parry to stun the enemy, while red attacks must be dodged. The game also adds immensely powerful yellow attacks, but if you parry them, you'll enter a cinematic counterattack that does massive damage to bosses and instantly kills weaker enemies. One important thing about parrying is that you're harshly punished for missing. There will be a dramatic red flash, and you'll take significantly more damage, requiring you to be more cautious with parries.

Avoiding damage is important, since inflicting damage without taking damage is how you build Athra, which is a super bar that you can fill up to three times. Doing damage fills it, and taking damage drains it, but on the standard difficulty mode, it won't drop down a level once you've filled a bar. (Higher difficulties are less forgiving.) You can spend this bar to do Athra Surges, which are incredibly powerful cinematic moves that can do huge damage and interrupt enemy attacks. Some are powerful attacks, while others are powerful parries or a temporary super mode, where your character becomes incredibly strong for a brief period of time.

The heart of any good Metroidvania-style game is in the upgrades, and thankfully, The Lost Crown delivers in spades. You get standard upgrades, like a grappling hook or double-jump, but you also get a lot of cool time powers. One allows you to create a "time clone" of yourself that freezes in the middle of the action you were just doing. At the touch of a button, you can warp back to that clone and continue the action. This not only lets you get past moving walls, but it can be worked into combat by allowing you to charge a basic attack, clone yourself, and then unleash the charged attack. You also gain the ability to tear holes in time and warp between dimensions Guacamelee-style.

All of this leads to some very fun platforming challenges where you're mixing everything together in a way that feels extremely cool, and it makes the act of moving around more fun as the game progresses. By the time you reach the end, you'll be zooming around the map with ridiculous ease, and you'll be mixing this mobility into exploration and combat. It also makes exploring earlier areas more fun, as most of the mobility allows you to reach new places or skip traps and obstacles.

It also plays into the boss fights. Most bosses have a number of different attacks, many of which are designed to be countered with one of your tools, and figuring out the right tool for each situation becomes an enjoyable part of the fight. Is the boss spewing a laser beam slowly across the stage? Create a clone, wait until the beam passes, and then teleport to the clone. Shooting tons of shots? Parry them back. Filling the air with slashes? Dodge through them until the boss gets tired and smash them down. They're all deeply enjoyable fights that I'm loathe to spoil. Some are straightforward monsters, but at least one is basically Vergil from Devil May Cry, right down to the Judgment Cut.

Possibly the only downside to all the mobility applies to a lot of recent Metroidvania offerings, and it is that the game is occasionally falls into the trap of creating a segment that's basically nothing but spike walls; you'll need to narrowly platform through it, and a single mistake means you have to redo the entire segment. I don't mind this, but I know it can be a sticking point for people who otherwise enjoy the gameplay of a Metroidvania. Thankfully, this is a minor flaw at best, as the game has an accessibility feature that allows you to skip a platforming segment if you get frustrated, so it's basically impossible to get stuck.

There is a ton of exploration in The Lost Crown. You can either play in Guided mode, which shows you the next plot path, or use the non-Guided path, which allows you to explore, and I strongly recommend the latter. The game is designed well enough that you can generally find your way to new paths, and it makes discovering secrets and items more fun. You can find health upgrades, special amulets that you can equip for passives à la Hollow Knight's charms, hidden side-quests, lore and more. You don't technically need to do any of that stuff, but the rewards are often hefty enough to give you a much-needed advantage during difficult boss fights.

The Lost Crown is a great example of a game with relatively simple graphics carried heavily by its art design. The cartoonish art style looks great in motion and frequently impresses. There are several environments that are truly stunning to look at, and everything is fluid and well animated, and it runs buttery smooth. The use of anime-style cut-ins, visual flair and general aesthetics looks fantastic and makes some of the attack animations and cut scenes look so exceedingly good that I didn't mind being hit by an attack. The voice acting is quite good, aside from a few minor characters, and the soundtrack is fleshed out by atmospheric and appropriate music.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an excellent Metroidvania. It doesn't completely break the mold of the genre, but it is firing on all cylinders, and it's a delight from start to finish. The excellent gameplay is bolstered by the anime-inspired visuals to create a distinctive style. The somewhat lackluster plot lags behind, but even that is mostly fun, if unexceptional. If you're a fan of Metroidvania-style games, you're certain to have a ton of fun with Sargon's adventure in The Lost Crown.

Score: 9.0/10

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