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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

January 16, 2024 at 9:32 pm

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the latest installment of the iconic action-adventure platform game, which has been around since the late eighties and comes 13 years after Ubisoft’s critically-acclaimed reboot Sands of Time trilogy.

While The Sands of Time is reportedly undergoing its own remake, Ubisoft Montpellier’s new addition to the franchise is sure to garner renewed interest in the Metroidvania genre, especially by bringing the game back to its 2D platformer roots or, in this case, a 2.5D one. Like those before it, it is set in a fictional Persian fantasy world but, unlike other versions, this game does not centre on the series’ titular character, Prince Ghassan.

Although he is central to the plot, (he gets kidnapped as opposed to the cliché damsel in distress in old school platformers) one plays as a young Afro-Iranian protagonist, Sargon, who is one of the members of an elite fighting unit, “the Immortals”, who serve in the Persian army and are loyal protectors of the royal family.

Interestingly, the Persian Immortals were a historical elite military unit, 10,000-strong in the service of the rulers and were around for almost the entirety of the ancient Achaemenid Empire. As acknowledged by the creators behind the game, The Lost Crown draws significantly on Persian mythology and history.

This can be seen with references to King Darius and the prominence of mythical creatures, like the Simurgh bird, the giant Azhdaha snake and the Manticore – a hybrid consisting of face of a man, body of a lion with the tail of a scorpion. The main destination in the plotline is Mount Qaf, which is based on the legendary mountain in Arabic and Persian cosmology and Sufi writings.

Of note, the option of Persian audio was appreciated, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the experience, while the ability to read back on previous character dialogues helped re-enforce the game’s narrative, which can easily be lost, given the inherent emphasis on action.

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The inclusion of time and space manipulation, which was a defining mechanism in The Sands of Time, compliments the acrobatic manoeuvres and fantastic array of combat moves and skills. However, the game unfolds at a slow pace, and it is only in the first third that Sargon gains access to time-rewinding moves, after which the game truly begins.

Encountering an end-of-level boss also takes a significant amount of time, resulting in a somewhat leisurely atmosphere, as players are left to figure out puzzles and engage in side quests. As is often the case with games, the plot proves challenging to nail down and the betrayal by one of Sargon’s closest companions fails to evoke surprise.

Nevertheless, the cut scenes are entertaining, infused with an Anime-like drama. The gameplay itself excels, particularly in combat, though platform manoeuvres become progressively tricky and challenging—frustratingly so, in parts, although there is an option of platform assisting.

While moving around the semi-open world could be more fluid, with “fast travel” limited to specific gateways on the map that one has to physically trek to in order to use, the visually stunning diverse terrain and “worlds” are impressive, complemented by a variety of enemies associated with each location.

The Lost Crown is a commendable attempt to rejuvenate the franchise for a contemporary audience, adopting a side-scrolling platform game approach with a modern touch, in terms of both plot and visual effects.

However, the experience may not be wholly enjoyable for every gamer, requiring a Soulslike-level of persistence and determination. Nonetheless, it succeeds in bringing the game back to basics while infusing it with a fresh and modern feel, which will, no doubt, raise the expectations for the forthcoming Prince of Persia remake, focused back on the Prince in question.

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