Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the Radical Reset the Series Needs
A nobile return.
It’s been over a decade since the release of the last Prince of Persia, and with the Sands of Time remake seemingly trapped in development hell, the franchise has had a rough go of things. That’s exactly what makes Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown so surprising, not just because it's a new game after all these years, but because it’s actually quite good. After a roughly hour-long demo, The Lost Crown is a deliciously stylish metroidvania with incredibly satisfying controls and combat, sending me from hesitant to eager to get more.
Lost Crown casts you as a brand new hero named Sargon, a member of an elite group known as The Immortals, sent to Mount Qaf to rescue the kidnapped Prince Ghassan. Our demo essentially let us run around and explore the early parts of the mountain, getting a feel for how the interconnected world flows together, although certain parts were locked off for this build.
The thing I couldn’t get out of my head even hours later was just how good every single movement feels in Lost Crown, how responsive everything is. Every input you make feels accurate to the second, and Sargon has a wealth of abilities that make traversal satisfying, including air dashes, slides, and even a teleport ability that essentially lets you rewind back to your previous position.
All of these abilities also play directly into combat, letting you deftly slide under an enemy’s blow and pop up behind them, or dash across a gap to hit an archer with a downward strike. Sargon has a basic sword combo that can be aimed in any direction, as well as a bow for ranged damage and reusable chakra that comes back like a boomerang. He also has two special attacks that can be used as a gauge builds up when you cause and take damage.
Perhaps the most important part of combat, however, is the parry system, which feels incredibly satisfying to use when you get it right. Both basic enemies and bosses will give a brief yellow flash before using a move that can be parried, and if you time it just right you can reflect the blow back for damage while also building a huge chunk of your special gauge.
The way traversal and combat flow together is practically seamless. One minute you’ll be sliding underneath spinning death wheels and leaping over pits, and the next you’ll be wall jumping up to archers while avoiding spearmen.
Everything in the demo came to a head in a massive Manticore boss fight near the end. Beating the boss took me a half dozen times, but with each try, I learned a little more about the boss's moveset and how my mechanics play into that. This battle really challenged everything I had spent the previous 45 minutes learning, and more than anything it makes me excited to see what other kind of combat challenges the full game might have in store.
While the core game feel is what impressed me the most, I’d be remiss to not mention how absolutely stylish everything is in Lost Crown. There’s a kind of comic book aesthetic at play with hard lines and bright colors, and cutscenes and special moves particularly make things pop with wild displays of effects.
The hour I played of Lost Crown was more than enough to pique my interest. Ubisoft Montpellier is the team behind the Rayman series, games that have equally great-feeling movement. That core feel of movement and combat is already enough to sell the long-awaited return of Prince of Persia.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown launches on January 18, 2024 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.