Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review – Slick, Stylish & Sensational

Reviving a Classic: The Impact of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’s Announcement

Prince of Persia is one of many beloved IPs that has remained dormant for well over a decade, especially with the elusive remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time still in the wings. The franchise’s future has always been questionable, though the sudden announcement of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown turned some heads, to say the least. Helmed by Ubisoft Montpellier, the studio behind the masterful Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, this new 2.5D outing seemed simultaneously bold and ambitious yet comfortingly nostalgic to the roots of the Prince of Persia series. So, not quite knowing what I was in for in a fresh divergence of this caliber, I dove in and was greeted with confident, stylish splendor.

Meet Sargon: The Heart of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’s Adventure

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown follows protagonist Sargon, a member of a talented warrior group referred to as The Immortals. Seen as one of the younger, more rookie members, his recent strong performance has earned him prestige among both royalty and allies. However, following a successful mission protecting their homeland with the royal family, celebrations are cut short when Sargon’s mentor, Anahita, performs a sudden heel-turn by kidnapping the nation’s prince, Ghassan. This development initiates a rescue mission with The Immortals, who track Anahita and her conspirators toward the ominous Mount Qaf. Alas, what begins as a straightforward task becomes increasingly contrived as this locale disturbs the natural flow of time, eventually making the search for Anahita and the kidnapped prince the least of The Immortals’ concerns.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an Unapologetically Stylish and Sleek Metroidvania Action Adventure

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a metroidvania where the story, while somewhat prominent at select moments, mostly takes the backseat, which makes sense given the genre at play here. The premise is compelling and lays solid groundwork for the duration of the adventure, but the cast does feel needlessly large in a tale where narrative isn’t at the forefront. Aside from Sargon and a few other Immortals, the rest don’t succeed at maintaining relevance, even in a metroidvania where the playtime is longer than the genre’s norm.

Gameplay Mastery: How Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Rises Above Expectations

Still, it quickly becomes abundantly clear that the plot isn’t the focus, so the instances of weak execution do little to hamper the experience. Plus, the voice work here is stellar, with excellent line deliveries and strong casting that carries the more emotional beats forward. The voice acting is what truly made me care about the plot, to such an extent that the text-only readable collectibles did little to stimulate my interest in the history of Mount Qaf. There is plenty for intrigued parties to peruse, though.

Regardless, the gameplay takes centerstage, and The Lost Crown excels to staggering heights. From the opening minutes alone, you’ll likely instinctually grasp the fluidity this title is built upon. Sargon’s movements are swift and smooth, with responsiveness and precision that become emphasized in particular combative scenarios and demanding platforming challenges. The controls are positively impactful right from the outset in ways that are loosely reminiscent of the developer’s work on Rayman. Consequently, this sets the stage for a journey that stays continually gripping.

Memory Shards rid the frustration many titles of the genre unconsciously employ when backtracking to find overlooked paths or items

Throughout The Lost Crown, you explore Mount Qaf, a colossal area teeming with all manner of hazards and defiances of time. In typical metroidvania fashion, you’ll uncover countless pathways, both obligatory and optional, that require power-ups found from other parts of the map. In that sense, the title follows standardized genre conventions, but the actualizations of them stand out tremendously. This is in large part due to the creative upgrades discovered around the premises, such as Sargon being able to summon a stationary afterimage of himself that he can teleport to from a distance. Another notable power-up enables him to slice a rift between dimensions to carry enemies and objects with him.

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Sargon’s ever-expanding toolkit cleverly plays into the setting’s relationship with time while paving the way for impressive puzzles and platforming sequences. Some of my favorite platforming instances involve well-timed usages of your bow to hit switches unlocking platforms, requiring moderate swiftness that is never overwhelming yet still satisfying to pull off. These feats often make progression consistently rewarding, and they’re amplified by one of the game’s most standout mechanics, Memory Shards.

Innovating Backtracking: The Genius of Memory Shards in The Lost Crown

In the opening hours, you gain the invaluable functionality of taking snapshots of the location you’re currently standing in, which then become geographically affixed on the map. By making this a habit, you can keep track of obstacles to return to when you acquire the necessary upgrade. These Memory Shards rid the frustration many titles of the genre unconsciously employ when backtracking to find overlooked paths or items. It’s honestly a massive game-changer that I only continued to appreciate the more I progressed, especially with its ease of usage, as it ensured I would always be fully caught up with collectibles whenever I desired to.

The Lost Crown also possesses a rewarding combat system that, while admittedly too simple at points, shines in bouts requiring more thought. Adding on to the previously mentioned swift and smooth movement which extends to the swings of Sargon’s blades, you can equip Amulets and Athra Surges. The former is self-explanatory, as they’re basically just accessories that instill passive boons of varying practicality. For example, some Amulets make you deal more damage with your bow or swords, while others enact useful phenomena like attracting currency from afar.

The gameplay takes centerstage, and The Lost Crown excels to staggering heights.

And speaking of money, there are indeed shops that work exactly as you’d expect, allowing you to purchase more Amulets, increase your capacity of held healing potions, and even upgrade the efficacy of your weapons. In essence, there is no shortage of financial-induced recompense to make the adventure a constantly thrilling one. For the most part, a well-kept balance is made with the shop stock and currency acquisition, so neither feels too needlessly distant from the other.

Circling back to the equippables, Athra Surges can be best summated as special attacks Sargon can perform once the respective gauge is filled. There’s a surprising number you can find, and they each have distinct ranges and applications. Further, they’re pretty handy for boss battles, which is where this game tends to shine the brightest. Without exaggeration, The Lost Crown has some of the best boss design I’ve seen in any Metroidvania. They’re all memorable, with terrific telegraphs and movesets that just feel great to understand and triumph over.

A New Era for Prince of Persia: Unpacking The Lost Crown’s Stylish Gameplay and Boss Battles

In my experience, this genre has an unfortunate tendency to oversimplify bosses or make them too reliant on gimmicks, preventing them from feeling like actual battles. Thankfully, The Lost Crown does not follow in those long-trodden footsteps since it makes the boss fights truly centered on action instead of having to exploit simple openings with power-ups. This demonstrates confidence in the overall game design, as mechanics aren’t shoved down one’s throat for self-assured justification. The reliance on parries emphasizes the action focus, too, with bosses even having brief cinematics for cases where you pull off a parry against a specific attack. The gameplay loop here is engrossing since the parries make you a glass cannon in every sense of the phrase. Assuming you aren’t playing on an easier difficulty, poor utilization of parries can spell your demise in seconds, while parrying adequately will make mince meat of your foes equally as quickly.

One last set of points worth bringing attention to is the soundtrack and art direction. Regarding the former, The Lost Crown features musical contributions by Gareth Coker, who brings well-suited atmospheric cohesion to the experience. Granted, I don’t see myself listening to any of these songs outside of the game, but they do their job of providing a sense of mystery and stillness to the labyrinth that is Mount Qaf. As for the art direction, I’m more hit-and-miss on it. The character portraits and parry cut-in animations are masterclass, but, personally, the environments were lacking. To elaborate, there is visual variety that becomes pronounced the further you progress, yet the colors lack a vibrancy that makes the areas pop as much as they likely should. This didn’t take me out of the experience or anything; it just felt like something was missing in this regard.

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an unapologetically stylish and sleek Metroidvania action adventure that boasts magnificent movement and brilliant boss design. Aside from setting itself apart from other entries in the Prince of Persia series, it also stands toe-to-toe with some of the genre’s giants. While the narrative isn’t comparatively engrossing, this one-of-a-kind journey will undeniably satisfy both beginners and veterans of the franchise. The never-mundane gameplay loop full of ceaseless reward and discovery is one that shows clear, meticulous thought poured into it. At its core, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown redefines what Prince of Persia can bring to the table and proves that it can still shine in the modern age if given enough polish and opportunity.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PS5)

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown reignites the long-dormant franchise with a stylish and sleek Metroidvania action-adventure. Helmed by Ubisoft Montpellier, the game stands out with its fluid movement, brilliant boss design, and innovative gameplay mechanics. While the narrative takes a backseat, the game's focus on action-packed combat and challenging platforming ensures a rewarding experience. With unique features like Memory Shards for navigation and versatile combat abilities, it offers a fresh take on the series that will satisfy both new and longtime fans. The Lost Crown not only revives Prince of Persia but also showcases its potential to thrive in the modern gaming landscape.

The Good

  • Unique Gameplay Mechanics: The game features a metroidvania style with innovative mechanics, such as the Memory Shards for tracking progress and obstacles.
  • Engaging Boss Fights: The boss battles are particularly praised for their design, telegraphs, and action-oriented approach.
  • Compelling Character Progression: The protagonist Sargon and other key characters have depth and contribute to the game’s engaging story.
  • Fluid Movement and Controls: Sargon's movements are described as swift and smooth, enhancing the gameplay experience.

The Bad

  • Oversized Cast with Limited Relevance: Many characters feel extraneous in a game where narrative is not the primary focus.
  • Simplistic Combat System at Times: The combat system is sometimes seen as too simple, potentially reducing the challenge for experienced players.
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