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June 2024

The Rogue Prince Of Persia

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Evil Empire


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PC Preview - 'The Rogue Prince of Persia'

by Cody Medellin on May 27, 2024 @ 12:45 a.m. PDT

The Rogue Prince of Persia is a 2D fast-paced action-platforming roguelite.

Prince of Persia fans will enjoy 2024. While they may not have gotten the remake of The Sands of Time that was promised a while ago, they got a brand-new game with The Lost Crown, which showed that Ubisoft can still make games outside of its open-world wheelhouse. The game was magnificent and an early contender for Game of the Year, which would've been good enough for those who have been waiting for any kind of entry in the series. However, Ubisoft dropped another surprise in the form of The Rogue Prince of Persia, and we got to take a look at it before it arrived on Steam Early Access.

There's a story in place, but it starts off mysteriously and gets pieced together over time. You play the titular prince of Persia, who has no relation to any of the other characters from previous games. The Huns have attacked the country, and you try and stop them, despite your father's wishes. You failed, and you would've died if it weren't for the fact that your magical bola whisked you away before you were set to die. You arrive outside of the city, three days removed from the Hun invasion, and you vow to make things right and drive away the invaders, no matter how many tries it'll take.

As alluded to in the title, this is a roguelite and marks the first time the series has ventured into the genre. All of the major hallmarks of the genre are present, from the temporary buffs to the reset to the first level after dying to the shift in level and enemy layouts per run. Items used for upgrades on future runs are also present but come in at a slightly slower pace, since they aren't introduced until after you've reached a certain stage more than once.

Since this is coming from the developers of Dead Cells, it makes sense that some elements from that game make an appearance. Some enemy types, such as bomb hurlers, are present, as are the charged, uninterruptible attacks from normal foes. The most notable element of that game, the ability to pass checkpoints and warp back to them almost at will, is also accounted for, and it gives the game a very light Metroidvania feel without necessarily infringing on the full experience like The Lost Crown does. It also enables the game to be a tiny bit easier, since you can return to any shops you've come across or warp back to see if you've overlooked any power-ups.

This is still a Prince of Persia game, though, and some of the signature elements from that series are still present. The combat isn't as kinetic as what you'd find in The Lost Crown, but you'll be able to bust out some simple and effective combos. Any puzzles are simpler compared to the older games, but they're also optional. Acrobatics are still a big part of the game, as you'll find yourself perched on poles and climbing up and down them. You can run for a short distance on vertical walls and do some wall jumping, but you can also run across walls in the background, which does a great job of opening up some nice-looking traversal opportunities.

The combination of classic Prince of Persia and roguelite elements works rather well, as there are no opportunities for them to clash with one another. Despite being made by a team with no prior experience in the franchise, the developers have nailed exactly how a modern 2D game in the series would play like, even though it doesn't mirror the complete feel of The Lost Crown. The roguelite elements fit in well as far as giving the game some variety with its platforming, especially with the inclusion of running on the background walls and how many pathways are present in each stage. Secrets are aplenty, which really encourages the use of those transporters. The presence of leveled-up basic weapons adds more depth to the weapon and buff systems.

At the moment, the secret power-up rooms are kind of difficult. Some house a power-up buff, but others make you work for them with a platforming gauntlet that tests your skills. You won't die with just one hit on the spikes, but these rooms are often tricky enough that unless you've mastered parkour, you'll likely end your run inside these rooms rather quickly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but when you consider how older games gave you room to die multiple times before you figured out the correct pattern to get through, players will be caught off guard that these rooms have such a high penalty.

The overall presentation deviates greatly from past games, and it makes the game feel fresher as a result. The graphics go for a more European comic look where the colors are bold but very different from what you may be used to with North American comics. The prince, for example, is purple in color, and the designs vary where some characters look angular in parts, and others look like they came straight from a Tintin comic. The look is overall quite good, especially with the animations being smooth and the characters being rather sizable. On the audio side, the game sports no voices, which is a bit of a shame, as the ones featured in previous Prince of Persia titles were always good. The music has Middle Eastern instruments but a more modern vibe. It's strikingly awesome, so it would be nice to see the soundtrack being sold separately from the game.

Even in its initial Early Access version, The Rogue Prince of Persia is an excellent roguelite that builds upon the developer's strong work with Dead Cells. The mechanics from Evil Empire's previous title blend well with the signature elements that Jordan Mechner's series is known for, while the presentation is absolutely stunning all around. The game is set to be in Early Access for a little over a year, but there's enough in the current build to make it a safe bet for those who want to try the game before the final release version drops.

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