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18 July, 2024
Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia Returns to Its Roots in The Lost Crown

It’s been a long time since the last Prince of Persia game hit store shelves, with 2014’s The Forgotten Sands being the last mainstream entry to grace gaming platforms. However, after over a decade, Ubisoft Montpellier has brought back this beloved platforming action franchise, and it’s better than ever. Eschewing the 3D style that made Prince of Persia so popular since 2003’s The Sands of Times, The Lost Crown blends old and new gameplay for an experience that pays homage to the series’ roots while keeping the excitement and action at an all-time high.

Prince of Persia Returns to Its Roots in The Lost Crown

The original Prince of Persia game was released in 1989 for the Apple II computer and was designed by Jordan Mechner. Although simple in style and story, the game garnered significant acclaim, mostly due to its cinematic presentation and exhilarating action. Although two sequels were released in the 1990s, including The Shadow and the Flame and Prince of Persia 3D, the franchise didn’t see its first massive success until 2003’s The Sands of Time.

Following The Sands of Time, which overhauled the franchise into a third-person 3D platformer with a signature time-rewind power, the series would see a new heyday. Two sequels were released just a few years afterward, continuing to alter the core gameplay for a new audience. In 2004’s Warrior Within, Prince of Persia became more action-focused, with a bigger emphasis on hack ‘n slash combat. The third and final game in the new trilogy, 2005’s The Two Thrones, combined the best elements of the previous two games to deliver a gameplay experience that many agree was the best of the bunch.

Prince of Persia Lost Crown
Prince of Persia

Despite the success of the modern trilogy, the long-running franchise started to stutter in the face of a new console generation. A 2008 reboot, simply titled Prince of Persia, while enjoyable enough to play and featuring a striking graphical style, failed to meet expectations. The same fate would befall 2014’s The Forgotten Sands, which while also entertaining in its own right, continued to struggle in sales. Running low on ideas and faith in the IP, Ubisoft shelved Prince of Persia for the time being, only occasionally releasing low-effort mobile spin-offs.

How The Lost Crown Saves Prince of Persia

Flash forward to 2024, where we now have Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown to examine. While this newest entry makes some aggressive changes to the established formula, it does so with style and success, calling back to the 1989 original while carving out its own identity. Just like in the original game, players do not control the actual Prince of Persia, but instead play as Sargon, a powerful warrior who defends the country with his clan, The Immortals. When the royal family is attacked and the Prince is abducted by kidnappers and taken to the cursed Mount Qaf, Sargon and the other Immortals must stop a plot that threatens the sanctity of their home.

At first, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is very reminiscent of the first game. As a 2D side-scrolling platformer, it’s highly cinematic, but also notably difficult. Players do not have regenerating health to save them from mistimed jumps or enemy attacks. Instead, areas must be explored with intent and enemies must be fought with strategy. Of course, as you explore more of the Mount, you’ll gain better abilities, more health, and a handful of extremely useful supernatural power-ups. Exploration is also key here, as the game takes heavy influence from the Metroidvania genre, requiring players to backtrack to previous locations to find better items and solve puzzles.

Prince of Persia the Lost Crown
Prince of Persia Lost Crown

While the 3D Prince of Persia trilogy was exceptionally good, it always felt like a modernization of the classic games, rather than a homage or true sequel. The Lost Crown feels like the complete opposite, as it cleverly modernizes the series’ gameplay to be more in line with the 1989 original while retaining its own style and voice. It also feels far more personal than ever before, as Sargon’s story features plenty of betrayal, surprise, and a constant subversion of expectations. With amazing bosses to fight, tons of secrets to discover, and a truly engaging gameplay loop that’s remarkably fun, The Lost Crown may have just saved Prince of Persia. At the very least, we look forward to a potential sequel, as Ubisoft Montpellier has proven that Prince of Persia is far from a dead franchise.


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