Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review

A Return To 2D

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review
Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

Metroidvania—a new genre label for the action-adventure platformer—fans have been well-fed for the past few years. This once-barren genre has been on the receiving end of many hit titles lately, and Ubisoft has elected to bring one of their most popular franchises, Prince of Persia, back to its 2D (2.5D to be precise) roots in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

In 2.5D for the first time since Prince of Persia Classic back in 2007, The Lost Crown introduces a new storyline, a new perspective, a new Persia, and a new protagonist (he has a name!) named Sargon. Other 3D entries have been released in the series since Classic, but Ubisoft has proven bringing Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown to audiences in 2.5D could be considered a step in the right direction for the franchise, and there is enough space for Prince of Persia to take place in two and three dimensions—and anywhere in between—moving forward.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown throws you face-first into the action (and lore) of the new setting. You are Sargon, a member of the elite group of non-literal Immortals that safeguard the throne and Persia, and you are tasked with bringing down resident invading villain-on-a-horse General Uvishka, to save the city of Persepolis.

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review

During this gameplay segment, I was shown the ropes by way of a tutorial. In its time on hiatus, Ubisoft has reached into the Metroidvania bag of tricks and pulled out numerous staples that have been well-established since the previous 2.5D Persian adventure, and Ubisoft not only embraces these functions in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, but they become a well-oiled extension of Sargon’s natural move set.

The Simon/Richter Belmont slide, the signature map system from Super Metroid, and even the Air Dash (Mercy of the Wind in Blasphemous 2/Mothwing Cloak from Hollow Knight) have all been tailored to fit Sargon’s move set. The movements are folded in remarkably well, and all feel natural while navigating the perilous peaks of Mount Qaf. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown celebrates the giants of the genre with these nods—and clear inspirations—to what came before it while making a statement with genuinely pleasing gameplay feedback. A job well done by the development team at Ubisoft Montpellier.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown throws you face-first into the action (and lore) of the new setting.”

There is always something driving the player forward and compels Sargon to find out the next thread of the intricately woven plot. Each story segment offers a tremendous payoff, and I’m here for all of it. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is adept at unsettling the player the moment you get comfortable. While the story does convolute, the player is always queued into what Sargon knows and nothing else, a true roleplay as an Immortal (in name only).

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review

Controlling Sargon is a dream. He has access to traversal moves such as the air dash (called Simurgh Rush), and wall jumps, and when you gain access to time powers (it happens, don’t worry), the game truly relinquishes control to the player, and you’re able to explore almost everywhere to your heart’s content. To the adventure-savvy, there are numerous collectibles and stone slates to read that litter the Mount Qaf mountainside.

These small collectibles and readings flesh out the world and lend importance to the divine being Simurgh and its importance to the overarching plot. Something as small as a children’s toy can outline the previous dynasty that has fallen at Mount Qaf, detailing that normal children used to play here, and now it’s a sentient graveyard plagued with creatures attempting to end you and your Immortal allies.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is adept at unsettling the player the moment you get comfortable.”

What has always felt missing in the Sands of Time titles is camaraderie, and Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown adds compelling background characters that make the setting come to life further. Constant boasting from the hulking Orod, or words of caution from the archer Menolias, make the title feel a lot less lonely than the previous Warrior Within or The Two Thrones titles, and resident Mount Qaf map-maker Fariba, helps the player at The Haven when they’re stuck in any way.

The Haven is Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’s hub area, and it allows the player to upgrade weapons (from Kaheva the Blacksmith), buy navigational hints from Fariba, and re-visit tutorial segments with help from another sword-wielding Immortal called Artaban The Swordmaster. A shopkeeper also allows Sargon to purchase upgrades (like maximum health boosts) and necklace amulets that increase Sargon’s effectiveness. Changing amulets can help prepare for future fights and combat. Speaking of…

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review

The combat in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is one of its strongest points. Aside from a basic combo, you can tinker with your attacks—such as adding a sweep in the beginning of a combo—to deal more damage to enemies. Amulets can compound effectiveness in battle as well, with certain amulets adding aerial combat strength, and others increasing damage if you remain at full health.

During one combat segment with many ninja-like enemies (that LOVE to dodge) I was able to launch one of them, while dealing with the next, and continue to juggle the enemies effectively disarming them from attacking back. This is a game mechanic, and The Lost Crown demands the player utilize these mechanics to their advantage to defeat waves of enemies, as if daring you to break encounters.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an accomplishment and shows this old dog can indeed learn new tricks.”

However, combat is no joke. You can mix basic combo attacks into launches, which you can then follow with aerial combos. If timed exactly right when a white flash happens on the screen, Sargon can deploy a vicious counterattack complete with a small cutscene that does severe damage. On basic enemies, these techniques are one-hit-kill shots, but on bosses, it does a big segment of their health. The combat present in The Lost Crown feels ripped right off the screen of the 3D Sands of Time games, and it translates impeccably to the 2.5D presentation.

Boss fights in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown are epic. Each encounter has different strengths and weaknesses that are up to Sargon to exploit. While fighting a big Manticore named Jahandar, he deploys poisonous attacks that drain Sargon’s health. With a little exploration Sargon can find an amulet that reduces poison damage (feels tailored for the fight), making Jahandar more kitten-like than the lion he appears to be.

Prince Of Persia: The Lost Crown (Xbox Series X) Review

As a bonus for those who read the optional lore, Jahandar is advertised as an unstoppable beast whom the previous King Darius could not defeat for good. Thankfully, Sargon is not King Darius, and Jahandar is not unstoppable.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an accomplishment. Ubisoft Montpellier took tried-and-true formulae from existing Metroidvania titles and reinvented them to fit The Lost Crown, making it feel like a fine-tuned culmination of the genre’s biggest hits. Character control and level design are top-notch, making parkour around the perilous Mount Qaf feel second nature.

Small quality additions such as the ability to tag locations on the map to remember where to backtrack to for a hidden item—an item that was previously unobtainable—is a godsend and shows Ubisoft was intent on making a Metroidvania with its own identity. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an accomplishment and shows this old dog can indeed learn new tricks.

Final Thoughts

Philip Watson
Philip Watson

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