Unveiling Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - A Riveting ReviewUnveiling Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - A Riveting Review

With its adventurous transformation into a Metroidvania, the Prince of Persia seems to have found a new home.

In its long history, Prince of Persia has always been the best to follow. Its original trailblazing release in 1989 set a new standard for fluid animation and death-defying platforming, and the iconic Sands of Time was praised for its innovative parkour-inspired 3D traversal. On the other hand, series entries that try to follow trends like the gritty Warrior Within have been less successful. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the series’ first attempt at a modern Metroidvania, which could easily have fallen into the category of imitation. But with its stunning combat, fluid platforming, and inventive exploration elements, Prince of Persia: The Last Chapter elevates the series to a new level of excellence.

Breaking with tradition, the eponymous prince in this case isn’t actually the player character himself. Instead, you play as Sargon, the youngest member of the Immortals–a sort of Persian royal bodyguard guarded by superheroes like the Avengers. When a member of your clan disobeys the order by kidnapping the prince and taking him to the mysterious and cursed Mount Qaf, the Immortals follow to rescue him. The setting allows the story to pay homage to Persian mythology such as the benevolent deity Simurgh, but it’s a very stylized take that doesn’t seem concerned with carefully establishing itself at a particular point in history. It’s a pastiche that mixes history and mythology with hyper-stylized visual flourishes inspired by anime and comic books.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Trailer

Mount Qaf is an extensive setting for The Lost Crown, including ancient temples, catacombs, royal libraries, caves, and more. It was once the heart of the kingdom but has fallen into ruin after the death of the wise king Darius. And as a cursed mountain, the few survivors talk as if they’re living outside the time continuum, often referring to things that either happened long ago or not yet.

This narrative supports three main pillars of gameplay: combat, platforming, and puzzle-solving. The Kuh Qaf is full of monsters and the remains of the embattled guardians, and tradition maintains that it was built with death traps and riddles to ward off invaders and protect the king. What’s most amazing about these pillars is that, while each of them is a great and necessary piece on its own, combining the three together allows you to flex different gameplay muscles as you battle. Build puzzles at a fast pace towards platforming.

Combat is fast and challenging, giving you a combination of attacks, dodges, and parries and then gradually trickling in new combat abilities, allowing you to be creative in adding your transitional skills to your growing arsenal. Find ways. The ability to create a shadow copy that you can teleport to has obvious traversal implications, for example, but it also achieves special combat functions. What starts out as a fairly simple 1-2-3 timed combo system with light parrying quickly turns into an acrobatic tour de force as you manage the battlefield with deadly grace. Boss battles are massive spectacles, ranging from slaying gigantic beasts to countering powerful human enemies with anime-inspired finishers with your special attacks. And hitting a perfect counter not only gives you damage, but the satisfaction of seeing a unique cinematic flourish that’s tailored to each enemy.

A lot of combat factors into the equipment system, a necklace of amulets that lets you customize Sargon to your liking in a variety of ways, but primarily in a combat context. You can expand the necklace with collectibles to equip more amulets, and I found it flexible enough to accommodate a wide array of playstyles, emphasizing your strengths and your Smoothes the weaknesses of My own loadout ended up leaning heavily towards regaining life through parries and maintaining a high level of health with a bonus to attack at full health. But another can focus on getting bonuses from successful dodges, or special moves like Time Bubble or Shockwave.

Movement is similarly delicate and instinctive. As you increase your skills, you become more acrobatic and aerial until you can clear a room while barely touching the ground. The platforming feels so natural, in fact, that Metroidvanias has that exciting sweet spot where you’re sometimes not sure if you need another ability, or if you’ve already completed the platforming challenge. may be considerably better to do.

The challenges increase to complement your newfound agility, with the regular appearance of breathless platforming rooms that require perfect timing for each quick jump. I use the word “breathless” literally, as I often find myself unconsciously holding my breath while walking through one. Many of them are optional, with a hidden piece of special currency tucked into the trickiest part of an area. The currency, called Xerxes, will fly back to its original location if you die and is only yours if you pass the challenge and successfully touch down safely again, as That’s like the tough-as-nails platformer Celeste. It’s too bad that these challenge coins have fairly limited utility in the game’s economy, as they’re mostly reserved for a single vendor with just a few adorable baubles.

Of the three pillars, puzzles are the weakest, although not by much. They’re basically an extension of platforming because even after knowing the solution, you’ll often have to rely on precise timing and nimble reflexes to solve them. I’ve never struggled with a solution enough to get frustrated with not understanding it, but I did get annoyed at times when I had to repeatedly try to implement a solution that I had previously tried. I guessed.

All of this would be for naught if location exploration — the heart of any Metrodonia — wasn’t fun and engaging on its own terms. But the setting is fantastic, with imaginative, diverse biomes that look beautiful and vibrant. From magnificent man-made structures to mud caves with bright crystal patterns and even a ruined shipyard frozen in time, it’s a constant joy to explore a new area, a new one. Discovering strengths, and re-exploring to find hidden pockets that you previously missed. One part even seems to be directly inspired by Metroid Dread, introducing a strong, invincible enemy hunting you down.

And it is in this aspect – the exploration of Metrodonia – that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown finds the greatest scope for innovation. Chief among these is Memory Shards, a reusable resource that maps a button press to taking a screenshot of your current location and marking its location on your map. In a genre that constantly presents you with areas you can’t quite reach yet, this is a complete game changer. This game emulates the feeling of drawing your own maps and taking notes on symbols you see behind a manual but modernized and automated in a clean and intuitive way. You can expand your collection of Memory Shards by exploring them in the open world, allowing the exploration aspect to come back into itself.

The memory shards system is helpful without feeling overly generous, which is true for many of The Lost Crown’s quality-of-life features. Safe points are marked by Wak-Wak trees, and as you approach you can see their heavenly, glowing trails to help guide you to them. A guided option will point you in the right direction for your next story objective or tell you if a gate is closed with your current abilities, but it doesn’t hold your hand, so you can still be happy to explore. You can buy maps of new areas for a token price, but you can also just dodge and explore to fill out the map yourself. Combat difficulty is similarly flexible, featuring recommended Rookie, Warrior, Hero, and Immortal difficulty settings with sliders for various combat elements. You can damage the enemy or level yourself up or down, increase your parry and dodge timing, and more to your liking. It all seems to be built to meet you where you are without compromise, which makes it feel engaging and functional.

It’s all in service of a story that has compelling characters and some interesting ideas but often becomes too muddy for its own good. The supernatural setting of the Kuh-e-Qaf prompts the story to raise many mysterious questions that don’t have many clear answers about how time works and what’s really going on here, so it often feels like Magic is being treated like a crutch. Sargon is a dynamic and relatable hero and the ultimate villain, but many of the third-rate characters are barely developed or disappear almost entirely. And the writing is at its best in moments when it’s as hyper-stylized as the action, as opposed to those where it’s overly serious. I cared about these characters and would have liked to see more of them, but the plot itself was less compelling.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a sea change for the long-running series, and a change as dramatic as Sands of Time when it took the classic platformer series into 3D. This new genre debut is so confidently and impeccably crafted that it should be Prince of Persia’s identity for the foreseeable future. Almost every part of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown works so well, and the parts connect so seamlessly, that it feels like the series has found its new genre.

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