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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PS5) review: Ubisoft has a GOTY contender in their hands

By The Count - 20 Jan 2024

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PS5) review: Ubisoft has a GOTY contender in their hands

As I embarked on my initial venture into Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown over the past couple of weeks on the PlayStation 5, I had neatly boxed my expectations. I envisioned a succinct, eight-hour Metroidvania experience, heavily focused on combat and exploration, with the narrative taking a back seat. In my mind, it was a minor Ubisoft release, offering a brief respite from their more grandiose open-world sagas such as the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

But wow, how my expectations were upended.

Just playing the first couple hours of the game and the scale of The Lost Crown became apparent to me. Far from being the breezy side gig that I had anticipated, this title tells the tale of Sargon's quest as it unfolds in a world rich with diverse biomes, a tapestry of characters, and a plethora of side quests, including formidable optional bosses. Each element contributes to an expansive universe, meticulously crafted to engage and challenge.

In short, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is easily the first great video game surprise of 2024.

As I started the game the first time, Sargon, our hero, was surprisingly well-equipped from the onset. His arsenal boasted a comprehensive range of attacks, establishing one of the most intricate combat systems I've witnessed in this genre. The freedom to chain aerial combos, juggle enemies, and execute powerful dashes infused the gameplay with a dynamic and expressive flair.

The boss encounters tested my mastery of this combat system. One particularly grueling battle against a poisonous pig required a blend of agility and strategy, echoing the gameplay intensity found in titles like Metroid Dread. It was a high-stakes ballet of evasion, attack, and precision.

In its narrative approach, the game spends its initial hour laying out a rich storyline and I found myself in the midst of a siege and the prince of Sargon’s kingdom kidnapped. This then sets the stage for the expansive 2D world that awaited. The Lost Crown doesn’t quite feed you everything at one go, and in the first few hours of gameplay players will be introduced to a variety of NPCs, who in turn will help to upgrade your weapons, offer to sell you items, or assign a myriad of side quests. One memorable but completely unexpected encounter had me battling a shadowy counterpart of Sargon – a confrontation I could have easily overlooked had I not ventured off the beaten path.

The world of The Lost Crown boasts a scale and depth reminiscent of Ubisoft's hallmark expansive games, yet uniquely adapted for a 2D platformer. Ubisoft has built a world where completionists and lore hunters can easily lose themselves, scouring various biomes for hidden treasures and collectibles. I found myself collecting lore fragments, equipping amulets for buffs, and undertaking quests to unearth hidden pots and unlock new Athra abilities, each enhancing Sargon's combat prowess.

The gameplay strikes a harmonious balance between the classic (I’d call it retro) Prince of Persia 2D platforming and the more complex movements akin to contemporary titles like Rayman Legends (another Ubisoft’s title). Puzzles required not just dexterity but also strategic thinking, as I navigated spike-laden environments using a combination of wall jumps, swings, and dashes. These early platforming challenges were rewarding, both in terms of gameplay experience and the useful rewards they yielded.

Despite these high points, my playthrough wasn't without some gripes. As the game is a throwback to its 2D tradition and in true Metroidvania form, there is a lot of backtracking involved. Very often, I found myself in areas with obstacles that Sargon is not able to tackle yet until he earns the correct Time Power power-ups. Fortunately, the game also allows you to snap a picture of the room so when you do finally earn the Time Power required, it’s easy to reference back the rooms you had to skip earlier and then it’s just more of a chore of having to backtrack rather than having to recall where to use the power-up. Kudos to the developers for adding this.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is available now and if you’re a fan of the Metroidvania subgenre, I can’t recommend this title enough. I really enjoyed the sense of adventure as well as the story depth and intricate gameplay, and there are plentiful of surprises for both old and new Prince of Persia fans. In fact, it’s only the start of 2024 and we already have a GOTY contender.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is now available for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S and Nintendo Switch.

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9.0
  • Playability 9.5
  • Graphics 8.5
  • Sound 9
  • Value 9
The Good
Fantastic boss fights
Challenging yet fun platforming sections
Map photo-taking is a genre-changing feature
Plenty of hours of gameplay
The Bad
Backtracking is tedious
Graphics is not the game's strongest point
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