There have been a lot of eyes on Ubisoft as of late, with the recent release of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, and since the announcement of the return of a legendary Ubisoft franchise – Prince of Persia. The new Prince of Persia game, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, was announced back in June however the feelings towards the title were mixed, having seen the gameplay trailer. But what can we expect from the game, who are Ubisoft appealing to with this newest instalment, and where does this latest tale sit, in a franchise seeped with history?
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As part of Ubisoft Forward way back in June of this year, we were treated to not just the announcement of the newest Prince of Persia game but also a look at the gameplay, with the full reveal for you, below:
What immediately stands out is the animated, cartoon-esque art style, and the revelation that Ubisoft has stuck with a 2.5D side-scrolling action/adventure, like the games of old. Unlike the games of old, however, is the introduction of a new storyline and a new protagonist, Sargon.
Any time a studio makes a bold decision to animate a title that had, in its more recent previous carnations, been leaning towards a darker more macabre colour palette, it will inevitably divide fans, especially those that enjoyed the darker tones. What is important to note here though is that, after churning out no fewer than 11 titles (plus Wii & hand-held variants of a number of these titles) between 2002 – 2013, there has been no Prince of Persia title released in over a decade. So the big question here remains, who is Ubisoft’s intended audience?
What do we know?
The key thing to note is that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a completely original story, not tied to any previous Prince of Persia game, and with a whole new list of characters including the protagonist, Sargon. The powers of time and sand appear to still be at the heart of the title and used throughout, to solve puzzles and defeat enemies, and the narrative on the surface appears to be one of betrayal, treachery and salvation. The gameplay we’ve seen certainly does not shy away from the violence seen on screen, and the game is listed as 16+, so this certainly isn’t a kids’ game, we know that for sure!
In the latest story trailer released by Ubisoft, we now have a clearer understanding of Sargon’s mission, and purpose as one of The Immortals – to save Prince Ghassan from the treacherous Mount Qaf, and to serve Persia. Just who or what has kidnapped the Prince we do not know, although in this trailer we are met with a rather sinister-looking snake who seems to know more than they let on. Later in the trailer, we discover that also on the expedition is the older, and more forlorn Varham. He seems to have some dark epiphany by what can only be described as a blue floating heart, before turning on Sargon and casting him to his demise in a bottomless expanse. Fates would seem to interfere however, and save or bring Sargon back with a new purpose – that new purpose is to help his former family and now foes, The Immortals, see what Varham is planning, and doing to the world, break his mystical hold over them, and stop him before it is too late…
At the outset, it very much seems like more of the tried and tested Prince of Persia recipe, a 2.5D side-scrolling action/adventure, full of gravity and time-defying acrobatics and puzzle-solving. Combat appears fast, frantic and mystical with the added use of Time as a weapon, but what stands out from all of the trailers so far is the added immersive factor of boss fights. Whether these are in the form of Limited Time Events, or just seamless mid-combat cutscenes for added flavour and jeopardy, this appears numerous times throughout Sargon’s confrontations with those he called friends.
As with any preview like this, we have limited content to go off of, but it would certainly help to bring the newest Prince of Persia title into the modern era for current and next-gen titles, to see those moments in all their glory! Thankfully we don’t have too much longer to wait!
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is currently penned for release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on January 18th, 2024, also launching on Xbox Series One, Xbox S/X, Windows & Nintendo Switch at the same time. There are currently pre-order bonuses available via the Ubisoft website, with the Warrior Within unique skin available for all pre-orders, as well as a Deluxe Edition that also comes with the Immortals Outfit skin, a Prosperity Bird Amulet that reveals hidden treasure, and the Digital Adventure Guide. The Deluxe Edition also grants you a 3-day early access!
With Ubisoft appearing to be going through a revival of late, and focusing on dormant and new franchises, it is hard to know exactly what to think or feel about the release of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. For me, personally, I am very excited to get my hands on it and see if it still feels like a Prince of Persia game at heart, despite the obvious changes and upgrades. I am certainly hoping that Ubisoft leans into that immersive boss-battle vibe that we see throughout the trailers, and it offers a nice break-up to the usual button-bashing frantic combat that appears to be prevalent again in this title. Will the very intentional artistic design have a negative connotation on the sales and critical reception of the game, it is too early to tell, and in a day and age where user and critical reception can be very divided will it even matter? What does matter is that after 11 years, the Sands of Time are swirling and ready to fight to save Persia once again, and it won’t be very long until we get to do the same!