There are several ways to define a good idea. One of them is the difficult ability to create something that people didn’t know they wanted, but that all they need to see for a moment makes them wonder why it took so long for it to exist. That’s exactly the feeling that the new Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown brings.
When it was announced, the new chapter in the legendary Ubisoft franchise was heavily criticized by a very vocal group of fans who rejected the idea of a more cartoonish 2D game, preferring something more along the lines of the classic. Sands of Time, of the PlayStation 2. However, just venture a little through the labyrinths of The Lost Crown to understand how much to transform Prince of Persia in a Metroidvania it was an excellent idea.
More than that, it is a very well executed idea. Echoing the theme of the series itself, the game rescues much of its own past while looking at the present and taking inspiration from good recent examples. Therefore, Prince of Persia proves to be more than an excellent Metroidvania, but a game ready to be a new milestone in the future of the franchise.
Betting on what is good
When some of the fans complained about Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Because it was a “simpler” 2D game, the development team went public to beat their chest to reaffirm the confidence they had in their ideas and the project as a whole. And now that the game is in our hands, it’s clear how right they were.
The game focuses its story on Sargon, the youngest member of the Immortals. As a member of the elite force of the Persian army, he embarks on a journey to rescue the prince who was kidnapped by someone he trusted. It’s a very simple premise, but enough to deliver a very fun and challenging adventure that combines all Persian mythology very well with the best in both Metroidvanias and platforms in general.
And that’s where we see how a good idea is the key to everything. By giving up that epic atmosphere that many people expected to see, the new Prince of Persia bets on this supposed simplicity to deliver very refined gameplay and a complex level design that knows how to take advantage of all of this very well. Sewing these points together, it brings mechanics inspired by other titles in the genre — such as the excellent Metroid Dreadan inspiration declared by the developers themselves — which makes this whole mythological adventure incredible.
All this to say that The Lost Crown It’s a delight to play. Although it is very agile, it has a very consistent progression, one that you feel is evolving and improving every moment. And not just because there is always a new power to acquire, but because of the way the challenges are posed by the scenario, which demand more and more from you, but without creating an insurmountable barrier of difficulty.
This is what makes exploring the legendary Mount Qaf a pleasure from start to finish. What begins as a nod to the first Prince of Persia It soon shows its own identity, mainly by bringing back the idea of time control that ended up becoming part of the series’ mythology — and it does it very well.
Still in exploration, The Lost Crown brings some small new features that do a lot of good for the Metroidvania genre. The biggest example of this are the so-called Memories, which are nothing more than a small screenshot that you can attach to the map to remember whatever you want, wherever you want.
It’s perfect for those who struggle with locating a chest or a puzzle while backtracking, as all you need to do is look to see why you marked that location. It’s such a simple mechanic, but it makes all the difference — and it’s even strange that no one has done it before. It works so well that the other markings are even a little redundant.
Playing with time and space
As he progresses through this gigantic labyrinth, Sargon finds new abilities that will help his progress. Some are very traditional, such as the dash in the air and the double jump, but there are others that match the theme very well and create new possibilities for exploration and combat.
An example of this are time distortions, which allow the character to return to a specific point in the scenario at the touch of a button. It’s a simple idea, but it fits very well with the narrative and creates many possibilities for puzzles and challenges. Likewise, the hero can create dimensional breaches to capture enemies or objects, which also creates new action options within the game.
And what makes Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is so good is how he manages to put all these powers to work at once. In many moments, it is necessary to combine two or three of these skills in a matter of seconds to advance through a maze of spikes or to reach a more distant platform. And, as complex as all this may seem at first, it works very well.
Likewise, all of these mechanics serve as well in combat as they do in exploration. All confrontations have a very interesting layer of strategy, being much more than the basic hack n’ slash. You need to be aware of the characteristics and patterns of each enemy to act in the best way. More than that, you need to know your character’s own fighting capabilities to get the most out of it.
As this member of the warrior elite, Sargon has several attack moves and combo possibilities. This alone makes the battles of The Lost Crown are much more dynamic than most Metroidvanias, but it becomes more complex and interesting when exploration skills start to be used in these confrontations.
Creating temporal distortions to engage blows or even to escape enemy attacks adds several layers to the gameplay, making everything more interesting — especially against bosses. And, although it may be a little tiring at first, the parry system à la Dark Souls ends up becoming one of the great assets of this modernization of mechanics.
Between classic and anime
There is no denying that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown It’s a very beautiful game. Even with its more cartoonish style, the game manages to mix very well the classic character of Persian culture with very modern elements, flirting mainly with anime. Many of the animations look like they came directly from Dragon Ballincluding a Super Saiyan Sargon at times.
This contrast works very well. The more anime feel helps create this more agile and dynamic language that Ubisoft tried to imprint on the adventure, especially when showing Sargon as this great warrior. The explosion of colors and effects with each big hit means that, even in the simplicity of 2D, everything has a significant weight.
At the same time, the level design work and art direction are incredible. Not only for the work of creating complex and challenging challenges at all times, but for using Persian mythology so well to create this sense of grandeur that the hero’s journey requires.
There is incredible cultural and archaeological reproduction work to recreate all these elements, which makes The Lost Crown A very beautiful game to watch and very rich to follow. From the architecture of Antiquity to the very use of the myths and imagery of those people, everything is there telling a little of the history of this culture that is so little explored in the pop world.
It’s just a shame that the narrative doesn’t highlight or value this as much. There are some stones scattered around the scene that help to contextualize these stories a little, but they are scattered and without the possibility of revisiting them easily. A simple compendium in the menu would be enough to enhance this rich aspect of the game — and which helps tell a little of the plot.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown vale a pena?
Although it is one of the most classic video game titles, Prince of Persia it had been almost 14 years without a new game. And, as much as The Lost Crown Although it’s not the return that many people expected, it very well redeems the entire legacy that the series carries. In fact, he is exactly what the franchise needed to reinvent and reestablish itself.
It may be too early to say that it is a new milestone within the genre, but it is certainly one of the best Metroidvanias of recent years. By taking inspiration from other successful titles, but concerned about printing its own brand, Ubisoft managed to give one of its most iconic series back the relevance and importance it deserves. A worthy title, indeed.
More than that, The Lost Crown It is proof that it is necessary to invest in good ideas. No matter how loud the criticisms and complaints are, trusting in what you have in your hands is really the key to delivering something we didn’t even know we wanted. Prince of Persia He deserved this preciousness.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch.