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The Rogue Prince Of Persia Early Access Impressions – Going Rogue In Style

Two is better than one

It’s bold of Ubisoft to launch two Prince of Persia titles in the space of six months, given it almost forgot the franchise even existed. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was a welcome return to the parkour-loving Prince after many years of Assassin’s malarkey, a reminder that quality still exists here in the right hands. If my first few hours with The Rogue Prince of Persia are anything to go by, the same can be said without any fear of overlapping into familiar territory.

The studio behind Dead Cells, Evil Empire, takes the lead this time, blending the usual task of platforming action neatly into the roguelike genre. Our trusty Prince finds himself caught in a time loop, affording him the chance to uncover the truth behind the invading Huns and their power as they seek to overthrow Persia. Every run you make, no matter how far you go, can uncover new secrets and clues towards solving the mystery of the Hun’s dangerous plans, unlocking new weapons and abilities that can improve your chances of survival.

The Rogue Prince of Persia follows similar creative veins established within Dead Cells prior. A handful of distinct biomes can be explored, each involving platforming across enemy infested areas, a handful of traps to evade and plenty of secrets tucked away. You can choose your path forward if you can find your way to the right exit, though you’ll need to unlock certain locations through certain NPC interactions, and every visit to each location is procedurally generated. Runs may look or feel different with each visit, though you’ll find similar hidden characters that can aid you along the way.

Dodging is your friend when things get heated

Within each area you can find numerous weapons and tools to aid you across your journey, from swift dual blades to larger axes that swing slower but pack a punch. The combat itself feels meaty, that Dead Cells DNA shining through, but one thing that uniquely sets this Prince apart from other rogues are his parkour abilities. It’s incredibly satisfying running up walls, jumping across gaps and dodging enemy attacks to hit them from behind, chaining said moves together to cross biomes with relative ease. Each area does its best to ramp up the difficulty as you progress, but having so many tricks up your sleeve makes for an enjoyable sense of progression even in the early stages.

You’ll also have the chance to pick up medallions, each one adding fire or poison to your attacks, or dropping resin on the ground when you dodge to slow enemies down. My personal favourite has you throwing extra daggers at nearby enemies whenever you dodge, the added damage can clear out groups of enemies far quicker than normal. You can carry four medallions at a time, though where you place them in each available slot can improve or change their resulting bonuses such as health or energy recover rates. It’s an interesting little side puzzle; which ones do you hold onto and where do you place them to get the most out of each one?

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One thing that will stop you in your tracks are the boss encounters. These devilish creations are designed to be bruising, though they could use some balance changes to ensure you’re not wasting too many runs to get by. Give it time, though, and you’ll eventually pick up on their patterns. One lesson I can pass on is to explore every inch of each biome prior to reaching them, increasing your potential NPC interactions that can aid you or increase the chance of obtaining improved weapons and trinkets hidden along the way. Don’t go running from A to B as fast as possible, trust me.

Learning from your mistakes is the key to progression

Despite being early access, limiting the number of locations and bosses you’ll uncover, there’s still a ton to do here. It will take a good handful of hours feeling your way through the opening biomes before finding your first boss encounter, each biome varied enough in design. There’s a few early hiccups, some slowdown when things get a little heated and awkward load times between areas, but it’s an enjoyable experience from the outset that holds plenty of promise. Knowing what this team are capable of, we’re only just scratching the surface of what The Rogue Prince of Persia could ultimately be, but it’s a pleasing start so far. It’s also encouraging that the team has been afforded the space to explore what they do best without being forced down the usual Ubisoft road, and hopefully that creative freedom maintains itself across the future of the project.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is currently available in Early Access on Steam.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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