At this year's Summer Game Fest and Ubisoft Forward, the Prince of Persia franchise emerged from a long dormant period. Last week, players were treated to a first look at Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Assembled by some of the developers behind the Rayman series, The Lost Crown is a new beginning for the series, but it's one that will feel refreshingly familiar to those with fond memories of making acrobatic leaps and avoiding deadly traps. Shacknews was among the first to try the game out.
While the main character looks familiar, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown follows a warrior named Sargon. He's part of an elite force known as The Immortals, who have been hired to retrieve the kidnapped Prince Ghassan from the harrowing confines of Mount Qaf.
The first portion of the game that we tried out doesn't feature the myriad of powers that Sargon will unlock over time. However, he's a perfectly capable fighter on his own. Sargon can go toe-to-toe with most enemies and survive by parrying just before an enemy hit connects or by dodge rolling under certain attacks. He can also strike from a distance either by shooting arrows or by throwing out a chakram, which will return to him after flying a short distance.
The Lost Crown is promising Metroidvania action, and there is certainly a lot of territory for Sargon to explore. Exploration and backtracking will be significant components of the game. Sargon will exercise the signature Prince of Persia parkour formula prominently along the way. He can wall jump, slide under obstacles, swing across long distances, and more as the story unfolds. Expect to see plenty of platforming puzzles that incorporate Sargon's agility, like a sequence where flower platforms need to be activated with a well-placed arrow strike from mid-jump.
A trinket system will help players customize Sargon to suit their playstyle. For this demo, I equipped Sargon with trinkets that would recover health with successful parries and add some extra damage to arrows. Additional trinkets can be found throughout the story. Plus, Sargon will encounter an ancient goddess, Kaheva the Blacksmith, who can help upgrade his trinkets and his other weapons in exchange for Time Crystals, which drop from every fallen enemy.
Boss fights appear to be tough affairs that will test player reflexes. In addition to striking hard and fast, the key to success is mastering Sargon's parry. Parrying a specific charge from Jahandar the griffin will trigger a cinematic sequence where Sargon plants his feet and strikes back with a counter-attack. This causes a fair amount of damage, but the parry has a short window and if Sargon misses, Jahandar's charge hits extremely hard. I had a few Game Overs here, but finally nailing my timing and ultimately defeating this aggravating beast scratched a very satisfying itch.
The 2.5D hand-drawn Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown may not have been the franchise comeback that players expected, but it's a truly pleasant surprise, because thus far, it feels like a worthy entry for this franchise. Beyond the game mechanics, grand boss battles, and level design, the environments look beautiful. Ubisoft also hopes to keep the game running smoothly, even promising to hit 60fps on Nintendo Switch. The Prince of Persia makes a long-awaited return when The Lost Crown comes to PC (via the Ubisoft Store and the Epic Games Store), PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch on January 17.
This preview is based on a PC demo played on-site from the Ubisoft Forward event and may not be representative of the final product. Snacks were provided by Ubisoft.
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Any go0d, 0unce?