The Rogue Prince of Persia – Hands-on Preview

Today (or tonight, for us Aussies), the Triple-i Initiative Showcase has blessed us with a hoard of exciting game announcements, with one of the most exciting being Ubisoft’s upcoming title The Rogue Prince of Persia. Developed by Dead Cells DLC devs Evil Empire, and building on the success of their recent hit Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, the game is a roguelike spin on the series that’s seeing such a promising resurgence. Thanks to Ubisoft, I got to take a cheeky peek at the game and get some hands-on time with it ahead of its announcement – and it looks like roguelike fans will be pleased with what it has to offer. 

The game’s protagonist, a rebellious (some might say rogueish) young prince has a habit of getting himself into sticky situations – but he’s also great at getting out of them. Thanks to the powerful bola – an amulet he wears around his neck – death is a little less finite for him than for many others. When he would be fatally wounded, the bola instead returns him to the last moment he was truly safe, resetting the time loop as if nothing had happened. Through the years, the prince has used this to train his body hard, pushing it to the limits and attempting feats that wouldn’t usually be possible for fear of death, but that he knows he can simply retry if it all goes wrong. You can see how it’s also a solid premise for a roguelike game.

Rogue Prince of Persia screenshot
Rogue Prince of Persia screenshot


Aesthetically, the game is very different from anything the series has seen before. Its simplistic, hand drawn art style is definitely unique, and gives the game more of a Saturday morning cartoon feel – in a good way. A sense of scale is still achieved using distant setpieces, and though he moves fluidly through the 2D platforming levels, the Prince often feels small in comparison to the world he inhabits. So do his enemies – enough to make a person grow overly confident in their ability to take on whatever comes at them throughout the game’s opening sequence – until the appearance of the first boss. Then the game’s gloves come off, and it makes sure to put you in your place. 

Along the way, you’ll pick up items that will feel familiar for the genre. Weapon chests and stores offer new and upgraded weapons, giving you the ability to choose between bows, chakras, and a heap of melee weapons all of which will appeal to various levels depending on your fighting style. Each weapon has its perks, but the more interesting variation in combat comes from the additional buffs you can collect. They’ll let you do things like set an area on fire when you kick an enemy into a wall, or jazz up your combos – and they can be stacked. You can only have a certain amount active at any given time, and each one has the potential to affect the abilities stored next to it, in both negative and positive ways. It becomes a fun game of stacking and gambling, hoping that the next one you pick up won’t mess with your perfectly balanced build.

Rogue Prince of Persia screenshot
Rogue Prince of Persia screenshot


I only spent about half an hour with The Rogue Prince of Persia, but I could have easily stayed there all afternoon. For a game that’s planning to launch into early access, it has a higher level of polish than I would have expected – but there’s plenty of fine-tuning to be done. The choice to take on player feedback and use it to craft the final product is a bold one that doesn’t always pay off, but I think it could work here – the bones of this game are fun, charming, and ready to test the mettle of players – everything a good roguelike needs. I didn’t get to glean too much about the story from the short segment I played, but if there’s a solid tale to go along with it, I don’t see why this game wouldn’t be a hit. The devs have a proven track record, the series is on a roll, and it just feels fun to play – I’m more than ready to see how this game develops in the near future!

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