Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a brand-new adventure set in Persian mythology. Ubisoft Montpellier is known for creating some of the best Rayman titles in the past, so we know that tackling the 2D realm is something that they are extremely good at. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown not only is a brand-new adventure, but it is also a brand-new dimension and genre for the franchise as it is developed alongside the classic Metroidvania structure. I am extremely happy to see that Ubisoft has not only managed to rekindle our love for this franchise but has also managed to deliver one of the best entries in the franchise. This is our review of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown on the PS5 in which we explore a beautiful world and take on some cool bosses.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown revolves around Sargon, a young and powerful warrior who is part of a group of powerful warriors who are known to the world as The Immortals. These warriors are sent on missions with special objectives, and you jump into the game as Sargon during one such mission as well. The start of the game does an amazing job of showcasing the true power of these Immortals. Each member uses a different weapon and excels at it in their own unique way. Throughout the game, you will find them fighting alongside you as they will help you thin the number of enemies, but you cannot call them on your own or command them. Sargon is the youngest member of the group and after witnessing the kidnapping of Prince Ghassan, he is sent to Mount Qaf in search of the prince along with his team. Things quickly turn for the worse as Sargon’s previous mentor is apparently involved in the kidnapping and now Sargon is high on his heels in pursuit.
Combat is no doubt the strongest suit of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Right from the start of the game, you notice that Sargon is exceptionally talented when it comes to combat, and he is extremely agile as well. Moving around is a breeze and movements fit so well in combat that sometimes you may even have a hard time following Sargon as he jumps into combat and follows the rhythmic inputs of your fingers on the controller as you land streamlined combos on your enemies. Even if you are playing at the normal difficulty, you will notice that Sargon takes quite a lot of damage even from the lowest level enemies, so you have to be fast when it comes to surviving in The Lost Crown.
At your disposal, you have your basic combo which can be performed on the ground, in the air, and also mixed with each other. You can quickly learn these combos and incorporate them with your movements as you sprint and begin your combo by first launching the enemies in the air, following up with a powerful combo, and then sending them back to the ground with a powerful charged attack. The animations are amazing and the smoothness of landing these attacks on the enemies is what really makes the combat feel so good. As you progress in the game, the enemies get bigger and badder as well and they will start countering your attacks and dodging as well but still, you will always have an upper hand over them with your agility.
After certain progression, you can also complete some combat challenges for some in-game currency but more than that, these challenges do an exceptional job at teaching you different combos and how you can chain everything together to dish out the ultimate pain on your enemies. Progression also unlocks more weapons and moves for you to use in combat, and everything can be chained together in combos no matter the move type. If you love combos and not giving enemies a fighting chance, you are going to love the combat system of The Lost Crown. While you can dodge incoming attacks, there is no blocking, but you can always parry incoming attacks.
Parrying normal attacks gives you a small window to unleash hell on the staggered enemy but if you see their eyes glow golden before an attack, parry that attack to see a cool kill animation as you finish them off in one hit. Unblockable attacks are marked with red and if you try to parry them or miss parry on a normal attack, you will see a cool animation of red and black cracks on the screen that shows that you have failed the parry and received damage. To make things interesting, you unlock special moves called Athra Surge abilities. These special abilities are tied to story progression, and you unlock them at key points. If you find yourself in a tight spot or just want to finish off a boss in style, you can use these Athra Surge abilities which need a cooldown and Athra charge as well.
Athra is a special bar that gets filled in combat and once you land enough attacks on your enemies, you have a complete bar, and you can continue building it to higher levels as well because some abilities require 2 complete bars. These are much harder to land but once you have 2 bars, you can unleash these special powerful moves and completely change the dynamics of the ongoing battle. Each ability also comes with a special animation which also makes it worth using them. These abilities are helpful in boss battles as well because some of the boss battles have really big health pools and these abilities help you take off a decent chunk of health with a single attack. Just like your normal attack abilities, you can mix these Athra abilities with your basic combos as well to spice things up as well. The options are endless, and this is what makes The Lost Crown so special when it comes to combat.
Similar to any other Metroidvania title out there, The Lost Crown also emphasizes a lot on platforming and solving puzzles. Throughout the game, you will find tons of locations where you will combine your abilities to clear platforming sections which are really tricky, and sometimes you will also need to go back a little to see if you missed anything regarding a puzzle blocking your way. The platforming is incorporated throughout the entire game however it is pretty solid and does not impede your progress in any way. Just like your combat moves, your platforming skillset is pretty basic at the start, but progression unlocks new cool moves for you.
Many areas in Mount Qaf are initially locked because of this very reason. Once you acquire a new move, many new areas instantly become accessible to you. These moves are similar to what you get in most other Metroidvania titles such as double jump, mid-air dash, and other movement abilities. The levels in Mount Qaf are filled with different obstacles such as spikes, moving enemies, fallen debris, and much more. There are also a lot of ledges and many other cool contraptions that you will have to navigate using your moves and tools. You will have to combine different mechanisms and your skills at the same time to navigate the tricky levels and solve puzzles. Sometimes bonus chests and rewards will also require you to do a little dance with your moves and show some agility as you avoid incoming traps and spikes to unlock them.
In platforming, accessibility again comes into play as Ubisoft has included a setting that allows you to create small time portals and if you fail a lengthy section, you will respawn here instead of at the start of the puzzle or platforming section. While the overall concept of time is gone, if you fail and still have health left, you are respawned at the start of the puzzle or the platforming section. If you run out of health, you are taken back to the last save location. In Metroidvania titles, backtracking is pretty common however Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown makes it easier as well with a special feature called snapshots and fast travel.
I am sure that this snapshot feature will be included in many upcoming Metroidvania titles as well because this feature is extremely useful. With this system in place, you can create multiple screenshots in a location and later view them straight from the map. You can create these snapshots to help you remember different things later such as an inaccessible chest or a potential item location or it could even be a path that is locked for you. This feature combined with different fast travel spots makes it easier for you to quickly jump around the massive Mount Qaf map.
One thing you will notice while playing Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is that the whole world of the game is beautifully designed. Every location in the game feels unique as you will notice a different vibe, different enemies, different challenges, and different boss battles. Some of the areas also show the time-play which used to be a pretty common thing in previous Prince of Persia titles. Here, you can actually see raptures in time. In one scene there is a giant statue falling down and it has paused in the middle. In another scene, there is a goddess statue that you fix one step at a time to progress in the game. In another scene, there is a whole sea battle that has frozen in time. It is just insane to look at the level of detail in these areas and even in normal areas, you will see that the developer has put in a lot of work to create a world that not only looks beautiful but also offers plenty to the players in terms of exploration.
To make Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown as accessible to players as possible, it comes with four generic difficulty settings and the ability to have a customized gameplay experience as well. If you are a Metroidvania pro, you can switch all of the easy bits off and go hardcore but if you are a newbie to this genre, you can turn on the Guided mode which makes navigation a breeze in the huge Mount Qaf’s otherwise confusing paths. All of these settings can be changed on the go as well if you are not happy with your initial selection which makes it extremely accessible for players of every skill level. The Custom difficulty setting allows you to tweak every last thing such as environmental damage, incoming enemy damage, parry window size, and the ability to completely turn off Athra loss if you are hit during combat.
I am not a very good player when it comes to Metroidvania titles or games that require combos to get better at them. I started playing Hollow Knight, but I could not even reach the half mark and I am terrible at titles like Devil May Cry because these types of action games require combos to defeat enemies and bosses. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown makes it so easy to just jump into the game, explore a beautiful world, and be actually good at delivering cool combos as well. I took a little over 30 hours to complete my first playthrough of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown which is a pretty decent time to invest in a game in this particular genre but depending on your skills, you can complete it even more quickly. I love how accessible it is to players and how it instantly hooks you to itself with its brilliant gameplay mechanics.
While Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’s departure from its rock-solid foundation of 3D action-adventure might be off-putting for a lot of players, it actually manages to tick all of the boxes that this franchise is known for. The boss battles are epic, the enemy design is solid, the puzzles are brain-tickling, and the platforming is challenging. All of this is combined into a beautifully designed world that encourages you to explore it at your own pace while locking down some of the regions behind powers which are unlocked with story progression, and it even manages to make backtracking fun with cool mechanics that will surely find their way into many modern Metroidvania titles.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a breath of fresh air for this long-forgotten franchise and if the 2D visuals and the Metroidvania game design are not looking appealing, you should first try it out at least. Good thing it comes with a free demo, and I am sure that if you love classic titles such as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will deliver the same experience with a brand-new look and feel. The gameplay mechanics are solid, and the world design is gorgeous. Whether you are a fan of Metroidvania titles or just want to get back into the Prince of Persia franchise, The Lost Crown is a brilliant title that satisfies both niches and will be considered one of the best titles in the franchise.
Final Score: 9.5/10