The Rogue Prince of Persia is a roguelite with a deeper mystery

The Rogue Prince of Persia can be played like a straightforward roguelite, but there's a deeper story demanding to be explored.


It's not often that Ubisoft graces players with two doses of The Prince of Persia in a single year, but that's what's happening. Less than six months after players met the warrior Sargon in The Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, it's now time for developer Evil Empire's take on the franchise. The Rogue Prince of Persia is launching onto Steam Early Access and Shacknews recently gave it a look, and we're pleasantly surprised by what appears to be a more interesting roguelite story.

Sliding down the Aqueducts in The Rogue Prince of Persia

Source: Ubisoft

It's easy to approach The Rogue Prince of Persia like its contemporaries in the roguelite genre. This is the story of the titular Prince fighting to save his people from an invasion by the Huns. The Persians are ready to defend their land, but the Huns have somehow been enhanced by strange shamanic magic. Like Sargon before him, this iteration of the Prince doesn't have the Sands of Time to aid him, but he does have a special bola he wears around his neck. The bola is imbued with a mystical power, one that recognizes when the Prince is on the verge of death and is able to take him back to his last moment of safety. That moment is in the nearby oasis, where the Prince can make preparations, chat with friendly faces, and decide where to start his next run. Yes, it's possible to start runs from different points, but more on this in a moment.

The Rogue is a 2D action adventure game, making itself distinct from other games in the series through its animation style. The art style looks like something resembling comic strips from the old days. Think something along the lines of vintage Popeye or The Adventures of Tintin. The animation is beautifully fluid with the lone exception of stage transitions, where the Prince's running animation becomes stilted as the game labors to load the next area. That sometimes takes a while, to boot, since The Rogue's stages are procedurally generated.

The Prince has one main weapon equipped at any given time, but can find up to eight different weapons of varying power levels over the course of any run. Combat is straightforward and its movement and traversal that the Prince of Persia series is known for. Taking on enemy Huns involves a mix of weapon attacks, kicks with knockback, vaulting over enemies to dodge incoming attacks, and ground pounds that remove enemy shields. Environmental obstacles are plentiful, which makes it a relief that the wall run is easy to execute. Medallions can be found over the course of each run and offer buffs in the form of area-of-effect bursts, stun damage, incremental healing, or poison infliction.

Indeed it's possible to simply run through stages in a linear path, find the stage exits, and take on the game's two bosses. However, there's more to this story. Over the course of multiple runs, the Prince encountered various NPCs. Some offered items to help with the current run, but others offered information on the Hun invasion. To start, they would inform the Prince of where they were stationed, as well as the location of a prisoner. This opens up entirely new biomes, some of which can be completed in lieu of the main path. This is what makes The Rogue interesting, in that progression doesn't just involve getting stronger or earning permanent upgrades. Progression also involves gathering intelligence and learning more of the story from character encounters. Evil Empire has even taken the step to add a Mind Map within the pause menu to remind players of what they learned in order for them to chart an ideal run.

Of course, the story doesn't end here and there's much more to come from The Rogue Prince of Persia. Evil Empire plans to have this game in early access for the next year in order to flesh out the game's systems, add new features, toss in new weapons and Medallions, sprinkle in some new stages and bosses, and also take player feedback. As it is now, this latest outing from the Prince is off to a solid start.

These impressions are based on a Steam key provided by the publisher. The Rogue Prince of Persia is available today on Steam Early Access.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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