It’s fair to say that the Prince of Persia series – first introduced to the world by game designer Jordan Mechner in 1989 – is perhaps one of my favourite series.
While I never played Mechner’s original game on release (I have since), I’ve got numerous iterations of the series that span a variety of consoles (dating back to Gamecube), and have thoroughly enjoyed most of them over the years.
As the series progressed, so did the format with the game shifting from the original 2D side-scrolling adventure to 3D. I’m pleased to say that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has gone back to its roots (visually, at least) and is presented in glorious 2D side-scrolling wonder.
It is a most welcome change and apparently Mechner, while not involved with this game, has voiced his support for it, even quoted as saying it is the Prince of Persia game “I have been wishing for”.
Tell us about the quest this Prince is on.
In The Lost Crown, players control Sargon, a young soldier who is part of The Immortals, an elite group of Persia warriors. He must travel to the cursed city of Mount Qaf to rescue the kidnapped Prince Ghassan.
Mount Qaf will test the prince with both horizontal and vertical traversal, all staying on the 2D plane. The prince can move forwards and backwards, up and down, through levels, unlocking more abilities as he goes. While things start off fairly sedately, with basic jumps from platform to platform and bounding from wall to wall to scale a level, after a while you’ll find yourself having to mid-air jump and dash onto platforms that disappear after a few seconds, all the while avoiding death from spikes protuding from passageway walls.
As in classic Metroidvania style, the more you explore, the more of the map that is revealed, with treasures and side quests adding to the complexity. You’ll find yourself backtracking quite a bit in The Lost Crown, too, as sometimes you won’t have the ability or tool to overcome an obstacle at first (such as the ability to switch through dimensions) or you’ll discover doors that are only unlocked from the other side.
Armed with his two deadly blades, our prince can vanquish the most determined of foes, and well timed parries fill up the athra meter, which when full unleashes a devastating attack. Visually, I’m loving the look of The Lost Crown, with an almost stylished art style reminiscent of one of the previous PoP’s that I played on Xbox 360.
The lost Prince or The Lost Crown?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get lost a several times because I just just didn’t pay attention to my surroundings or didn’t have the right ability to progress, but a nice touch is that you can take photos of unsolved puzzles and pin them to the in-game map, allowing you to come back to them later. You can also upgrade abilities and weapons at a central “hub”.
The Lost Crown has boss battles, as to be expected, and at while they seem daunting at first once you get used to their attack patterns, they aren’t that difficult to dispatch to the netherrealm. At least, the early ones aren’t anyway.
When you die you’ll spawn back at the most recent Wak Wak tree that you visited, a magical tree where you can equip different amulets that grant various buffs that offer a variety of combat advantages.
Be warned, though, The Lost Crown is full of trial and error game play moments, and if you’re easily frustrated, you might want to think about whether this is the game for you as you’ll likely find yourself constantly dropping “f bombs” because you couldn’t dash across a spikey wall fast enough or couldn’t make the wall jump at just the right time – causing you to plummet to your death on a wall of spikey things.
A fun return to form?
My time with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown frustrated at times, brought joy at others, and I genuinely got lost a couple of times, with no idea where the heck I was supposed to go. I wonder whether many of those frustrations stem from my ageing fingers and reactions not being as good as they once were but I did rage quit at once point, just to take break. Take from that what you will.
Aforementioned frustrations aside, The Lost Crown is a welcome return for the prince.
Thanks to Ubisoft Australia for the early game code