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Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown Review

Hot Prince Time Machine

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown may be the most confident game Ubisoft has released this console generation. The publisher/developer uber apparatus has become synonymous with at least half a dozen AAA market trends over the past decade, effectively spearheading an industry-wide push toward the Contentification of games. You’ve felt it even if you didn’t know where it came from – the slow creep of endless checklists and tower climbing, the backend digital marketplaces, the smoothing out of mainstream titles. This is less of an indictment, as such, and more of a reflection on the passage of time and the shifting sands of product expectations, both corporate mandated and player set, all which Prince of Persia is no stranger to. Historical context matters here because The Lost Crown feels as if it fell of the back of a truck from the early 2010s. A tightly focused and sharply crafted action-platformer that stands starkly opposed to what we’ve come to expect from Ubisoft, this stylised soft-reboot is both a tremendous standalone title and deeply cathartic shot across the bow of the rapidly sinking ship that is the mainstream game development market.

The Lost Crown brings a new hero to bear the weight of time fuckery and precision platforming, the somewhat likeable, somewhat rudimentary Sargon. Sporting a smouldering desire to improve his station in life that’s matched only by his slutty little waist, Sargon is the youngest member of the Immortals, Persia’s elite guard, who are dispatched to rescue the kidnapped prince, Ghassan. Their pursuit of the prince and his assailants lands both parties inside Mount Qaf, a once thriving golden city brought low by war and a curse, now corrupted and reclaimed by the natural splendour spilling over from its towering companion mountain ranges.

The time god Simurgh has ruptured Qaf, fracturing past, present, and future throughout, the intersecting timelines making this a place that feels fundamentally wrong to witness but a treat to explore. Sargon’s pursuit of Ghassan and his attackers takes him across a dozen or so different biomes, each feeling distinct enough to both look at and explore. Littered throughout time-frozen oceans, oozing undercity waterways and pristine monuments to wealth and excess, The Lost Crown introduces a fun and diverse cast of characters to match, some of which are genuinely compelling, at least in concept. The early hours of the game hold a lot of promise here, tonally and textually gesturing toward some cool ideas that, while not entirely successful, still give the action and exploration a solid enough emotional backbone.

The Lost Crown’s puzzles and environments are equally fun and well designed

All this set dressing would mean very little if The Lost Crown wasn’t so remarkably well crafted though. Across the twenty odd hours it will take you to see everything on offer, you’ll be seamlessly shifting between combat and platforming, both building on the same foundational work that Ubisoft Montpellier (of Rayman fame) feels destined to have built. Sargon feels as close to perfect as I could imagine a character feeling in this setting, his baseline manoeuvrability and responsiveness bolstered by an escalating set of powers and additional moves that complement and interlock right up until credits. Blessed by Simurgh, Sargon can deploy a range of time-bending abilities, like crystallising a copy of himself in place to return, dashing through space to close distances, and even dimension hopping in an instant to access ethereal platforms.

The pace at which The Lost Crown doles out its abilities, and the situations designed to teach you basic use before things ramp up for more complicated puzzles is masterful, keeping the experience engaging and fresh across its substantial campaign. Countless times I found myself staring down a complicated platforming section that would require the use of several abilities in very quick succession, a seemingly impossible task for someone as historically terrible at platformers as I am, but The Lost Crown had my back, its subtle escalation of skill requirements having trained even me to surmount almost everything I encountered.

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And the few times I felt outclassed I was able to mercifully skip thanks to the game’s extensive adaptive difficulty options, giving you access to several combat sliders, a more guided map system, and outright portals to swiftly move beyond platforming sections that may be giving you too much trouble. It’s a game that desperately wants to be played and subsequently nails its approachability. There is also a healthy dose of puzzles to solve, with not every platforming section geared around rapid response control but considered observation and “aha!” moments, both instances making you feel far smarter than you actually are when it finally clicks into place and you find yourself in a new area or rewarded with currency, collectibles and the like.

Combat is fast, fluid, and almost always a blast

The Lost Crown also pits you against a whole host of well designed and fun to fight foes, its combat toolset as responsive and rewarding as its platforming. Boss encounters are particularly thrilling, some late stage clashes pushing well past my limits in a way I’m not entirely sure is cheesy or not, but each still ultimately rewarding and unique. Also much like the game’s steady stream of new powers, Sargon’s offensive capabilities unfurl over time, his starting dual swords and early acquired bow/boomerang (it fucking rules) forming the bedrock of his Athra Surges. During combat Sargon will build up Athra across three levels, each one linked to a special combat ability he can deploy on short cooldowns, the Athra dropping if he gets hit. Sargon can also equip a variety of amulets with defensive and offensive boosts, upgrade his weapons at mother blacksmith, and is broadly free to mix and match these components with his time powers for fluid and expressive combat.

Perhaps The Lost Crown’s shiniest jewel is its good sense to deploy all of this with restraint, every interlocking system feeling deliberate and measured. There are minimal additional currencies and materials to find for upgrades, side quests are short and rewarding, and its scenario and world design apply pressure and relief in just the right balance. The narrative likely won’t blow you away, some rushed conclusions reached in the backend are technically fine but lack the considered tone applied to its opening hours, leaving some implications dangling in service of a cleaner, faster wrap up. Similarly, the English voice performances feel a little rote, though whether this is an acting fault, or a script is hard to tell. The Lost Crown does offer five different languages though, and I’d highly recommend the Farsi dub for its authenticity and solid performances.

Boss encounters are often bombastic and challenging

The Lost Crown’s initial reception among series fans was plagued by complaints about its presentation, the increasingly grimdark comic realism of previous titles replaced with heavily stylised character work and vibrant colours. These changes only serve to enhance the game’s overall aesthetic craft and vibe though, the final product feeling something like a blend of Western cartoons and Japanese anime, deploying a range of tonal touchstones that manage to hang together nicely. Splashy title cards to introduce bosses, expressive facial animations, bombastic finisher moves, and a strange mix of bloodless violence and high impact hits gives The Lost Crown a distinct visual identity that will likely stand against the sands of time.

Final Thoughts

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will go down as one of the best titles released by Ubisoft in well over a decade, depending on your point of view. The core systems on offer are functionally perfect, paying homage to the franchise roots and history while confidently staking a claim to its future. Raw performance is also a rare treat, the game being one of the most polished big budget titles to hit in a long while. Amid expressive animation, effortlessly cool combat, and challenging but fair platforming, a few minor gripes with the overarching narrative feel just that in the face of such a confident and complete game. Ubisoft Montpellier sets a new bar for the franchise and, ideally, begins to light the way to a better industry with this reasonably scoped, expertly executed series revival.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown Review
Fit for a prince
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an expertly executed series revival that displays the best of Ubisoft Montpellier’s pedigree while pushing the action-platformer to new highs.
The Good
Precision perfect platforming
Responsive and fun combat
Varied level design and toolsets
Quality of life and approachability settings
The Bad
Narrative feels a little rushed
English voice acting can be dry
9.5
BLOODY RIPPER
  • Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Ubisoft
  • PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Switch
  • January 18, 2024

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown Review
Fit for a prince
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an expertly executed series revival that displays the best of Ubisoft Montpellier’s pedigree while pushing the action-platformer to new highs.
The Good
Precision perfect platforming
Responsive and fun combat
Varied level design and toolsets
Quality of life and approachability settings
The Bad
Narrative feels a little rushed
English voice acting can be dry
9.5
BLOODY RIPPER
Written By James Wood

One part pretentious academic and one part goofy dickhead, James is often found defending strange games and frowning at the popular ones, but he's happy to play just about everything in between. An unbridled love for FromSoftware's pantheon, a keen eye for vibes first experiences, and an insistence on the Oxford comma have marked his time in the industry.

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