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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 1/11/2024 for PS5  
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Prince of Persia is one of those franchises that I don’t frequently think about. I recall really getting into Sands of Time, but other than that, the series has been something that comes up, at best, infrequently. Usually, the subject of Prince of Persia arises in a conversation about when the last game came out. They should do another, people frequently say. I feel like I see references on blogs talking about forgotten and unused franchises. But the series is indeed back, this time as a Metroidvania. I was a bit surprised by how well Prince of Persia slides into the genre.

I’m totally fine with the switch to the Metroidvania genre. I know there’s been some talk about betraying the game’s roots; to that I say get over it. Prince of Persia is not a name synonymous with a genre or style of play. Not growing with the times leads to death; I think Sonic has failed to grow. Becoming a side-scrolling Metriodvania is exactly what Prince of Persia needs. The developers at Ubisoft Montpellier have found the right way to stay close to the game's roots without sacrificing the making of a fun game.

The switch to Metroidvania was necessary to tell this story with these characters. Taking place at a time when Persia is being protected by seven warriors calling themselves the Immortals. These actual mortal humans are led by a man named Vahram and act as the navy seals of Persia; they get it done. You play as Sargon, the youngest hipster wannabe of the bunch. When the prince of Persia is kidnapped, you and the Immortals strike into action. You find the prince has been taken to Mount Qaf, a long-since abandoned city. Think of a place like Alexandria, vast and with mysteries to solve at every turn, some dealing with why the prince was kidnapped, others about your own history, or of your companions and the few citizens left in this abandoned place. I found myself enjoying the story from the beginning. The drip feed of story development matches the ability to unlock more and more of the city in a harmonious way. I always wanted the next piece of the puzzle, and never found myself bored with what I was doing. I don’t want to talk too much about story beats. It has twists, some predictable, others I didn’t see coming.

I can’t get over how aesthetically pleasing Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown looks. The vibes it gives off are near perfect. Even at the game’s beginning, on a battlefield searching for an evil general, this game looks great. I find myself stopping when I enter a new area and looking at everything in the background. The developers indicated that they are pushing a stable 60 FPS while playing; I believe they have achieved the goal on PlayStation. I never once had a hiccup of any kind. I found loading to be brief too, adding to the feeling that I was playing in one giant map the entire time. The music also fits each biome I explored. Music isn’t something I do a good job of picking up on while playing a game, so when I find myself noticing the score it must have had an effect on me.

You have four different options on difficulty, not including a custom feature that allows you to pick and choose mechanics to tweak, refining your options even further. There is also an exploration or guided mode. I enjoy Metroidvanias on the whole, but often feel like I don’t know what to do next once I’m further in. Guided mode helps out here, giving you an area to work towards. I loved having that; the guided mode helped keep my engagement of the game active; I knew the general area to try and reach, and focused on finding a path that led there instead of randomly wandering around and getting upset I didn’t know where I needed to be. I thought early on I would be fine in the exploration mode. I knew I needed to head to to forest and find one of my companions. I didn’t realize how far the forest was until I turned on the guided mode and realized I had further to go than I thought. I left the mode on after that, I know it made a difference for me.

The meat and bones of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown are savory. If you want to stick with a basic combat and not get too involved with combos you can. Discovering new combos though was great, nothing that takes more than five or six chain attacks and makes me feel like a total badass while doing it. The next big serving of content came from Lost Crown’s puzzles. A good Metdroidvania should have you screaming at your screen a few times, and I can safely say I did that more than once. Coming close to executing some epic wall jump, to then dashing across a pit to grab a ledge to then jumping off of it and land on the above moving platform, it all feels great when you finally get there after a few tries. I thought the puzzles involving the use of your bow were great too. And lastly, the biomes of Lost Crown are fantastic. I feel like I am in Mount Qaf. I thought the transition from area to area was very well done. I loved the forest biome, as well as some of the later areas I don’t want to ruin. The last one, whoa, was it trippy.

As said earlier, Mount Qaf is a great location. There are over ten different areas to explore and play in. As with all Metriodvanias, there is backtracking to be done. The area of Qaf is so pretty to see that I didn’t mind the back and forth. But I do feel the backtracking does feel like backtracking, not just passing through. Some areas I feel like I saw with more frequency than others, like the shopkeeper and training areas. Though I didn’t have to fight all of the enemies every time I come through, I usually took out the enemies I came across. Unless it’s the guards with shields, those dudes annoy me to no end.

I have so little to complain about Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. I thought the rate of exploring new areas was good, but unlocking the ability to have a section’s map felt almost useless. By the time I reached the guide to purchase that area’s map, I had almost explored it all myself. I noticed the weapons upgrades made fighting a lot easier every time I upgraded, but wished I could upgrade a little faster. The combat challenges were just fine too. Fun, but they didn’t add enough overall to feel like it was worth the effort—small complaints in the scope of the entirety game.

While I had a great time with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown I am still a little miffed by the deluxe edition of the game. The base price point of $49.99 is more than fair for a game that is a lot of fun, scratches the Metroidvania better than most and is between 20-30 hours. Zero issue. For an extra $10, you can unlock the deluxe edition. In this, you get the Immortal outfit, Prosperity Bird Amulet, and you can play Prince of Persia three days before the general release. The outfit is fine, and the amulet is helpful, but both are unnecessary, and getting a three-day head start on a single-player game makes offers little value. I know there are people who will have this game beaten before the general release. For the extra fee, I feel a bad taste in my mouth. Of course, this has nothing to do with my experience with The Lost Crown. You can enjoy this game and the deluxe edition will have little enough impact on your game that I feel it should be avoided unless you can find the deluxe on a discount.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown doesn’t overstay its welcome. Upgrades happen quickly, especially in the beginning, and then become less frequent. There are enough new mechanics to keep the game fresh, but not so many that I felt incomplete at the start. It was a more physical game in the beginning and more puzzle-based later on, and plenty of big boss fights so that I never felt like combat took a back seat. I didn’t feel the need to upgrade until I was about halfway through my playthrough, around the ten-hour mark. I lowered the difficulty then because I felt I wasn’t being quick enough.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown successfully breathes new life into a somewhat forgotten franchise. Embracing the Metroidvania genre, the game integrates captivating storytelling with fluid gameplay, offering a refreshing take on the series while still feeling like Prince of Persia. Mount Qaf is an enchanting backdrop with great-looking and diverse areas to see and explore. A story that felt a little on the nose, but entertaining nonetheless. The game's aesthetic appeal, stable performance, and music contribute to its immersive quality and I found myself at the end of the game before I knew it. The transition to Metroidvania might have raised eyebrows on die-hard fans, and they may feel left out in the cold as a result. But get over it, and play a wonderfully fun game.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown strikes a harmonious balance between combat, puzzles, and exploration, providing a satisfying blend for players. The shadow of the deluxe edition looms, introducing cosmetic items and early access at a questionable price point. Despite this, the core game experience remains untarnished, making the deluxe edition an optional, albeit somewhat disappointing, add-on. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a delightful journey, offering a well-paced adventure that managed to keep me engaged from start to finish.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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