Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown – Hands-on Preview

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown – Hands-on Preview

Since its announcement back in June, I’ve been quietly keen on Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. There was something about this 2D Metroidvania and its fast-paced platforming that grabbed me – and thanks to Ubisoft ANZ, I was recently able to play the first three or so hours of the game ahead of its January release to confirm that excitement. While there’s still a lot to discover on Mount Qaf, I can happily say that I could have easily turned that three hours into twenty if given the chance. Smooth movement mechanics combined with some cleverly balanced boss fights and a genuinely gripping story make Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown feel the best kind of addictive. January can’t come soon enough. 

The game is centred around protagonist Sargon, a talented warrior who is part of a misfit group of elite soldiers called The Immortals. Sargon is one of the younger members of the group who clearly has innate gifts that the others are keen to nurture, with several of them seeming (at the beginning of the game, at least) to fill the role of mentor for the strapping young fighter. After a success on the battlefield, The Immortals find themselves caught up in a quest to save Prince Ghassan and stop a terrible force from overtaking the land. It’s a vague description, but even in the early parts of the game there are twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil here – half the fun is of course in experiencing them. But the point is that Prince Ghassan is in danger, and in an attempt to save him, the gang need to explore Mount Qaf and uncover its secrets – which may go deeper than any of them first realise.

From the first sequence, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown feels so damn smooth. As Sargon, you’ll spend most of your time in constant motion, gliding across the screen as you chain together attacks or sprint across terrain at breakneck speed. Even before you’ve really unlocked any abilities, combat and movement both feel fluid and rewarding – which is almost a shame, because in any given scene, there’s usually a gorgeous backdrop to take in. But it’s hard to resist the temptation to go fast when Sargon moves with such ease, and there’s always something new to explore just up ahead. 


While going fast and chaining attacks is helpful, it seems that true success in combat will require mastery of the game’s parry and dodge system. Some enemies will do heavy attacks that allow you to respond with a ‘Vengeful Counter’ – a move that not only looks flashy, but deals a huge chunk of damage. These can come in handy against any enemy you encounter in this mythological Persia, but they’re particularly important when facing the game’s many bosses – all of which require tactics, persistence, and quick and calculated movements. The bosses hit hard, and the more Sargon can send that damage back their way, the better your chances will be. 

Along the way, Sargon gains access to a wide array of powers to help him both slay foes and navigate the world, some of which can really shake up the gameplay. A bow and arrow makes you more deadly over distance, but if you run out of arrows, you can throw your chakram and let it boomerang back to you. Some of the world’s puzzles require strategic use of the chakram to freeze and unfreeze mechanisms or move platforms back and forth over a space. These puzzles provide a nice break from the fast-paced platforming, forcing you to stop and think about your next move – or, sometimes, your next two or three. Other powers will allow you to do things like dash through the air or rearrange entire setpieces, and these can add new levels of fun to your movement. While the time powers seen in some of the gameplay trailers so far weren’t present in the section of the game I played, if they’re anything like the ones I did unlock, I can only imagine we’re in for a treat. 

It’s also important to note that the game is an absolute visual feast. Effective combos and parries, when executed correctly, have almost and almost comic-like effect to them, with scenes playing out that show Sargon unleashing fury upon his foes. The backgrounds, as I mentioned before, vary from cozy and familiar marketplaces to vast deserts, with each location filled with setpieces for Sargon to traverse. Everything feels larger than life, but no obstacle feels too big for this hero. I’m also a big fan of the character design, with each painted character portrait adding detail to already detailed character models. Also, everyone in this game is inexplicably attractive. They’re all just super hot. It’s not a problem, just something everyone should be aware of. 


Though I only got to play a small portion of Sargon’s journey through this mythological version of Persia, it was more than enough to get me hooked. From what I saw, I think the full game is going to be a whole lot of fun, and a visual feast to boot. Bring on January! 


Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will release on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series S|X and Xbox One.

Time Until Launch (January 18, 2024)


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