Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown seamlessly blends elements of metroidvania and soulslike genres, resulting in a thrilling and enjoyable gaming experience

Image: Ubisoft

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a strong candidate for Game of the Year, and it’s only the first few days of 2024. This game is really great, nothing less. Now let’s get back to the gameplay without more delay. The Lost Crown is a two-dimensional sidescrolling metroidvania in which players assume the role of Sargon, a proficient soldier in the Persian army who is a part of the elite Immortals squad.

As the story progresses, the prince is kidnapped, leading Sargon and the Immortals to set out to retrieve him from Mount Qaf. In order to traverse the dangerous and vast terrain of the enigmatic mountain, Sargon gathers a wide variety of equipment, weapons, and trinkets on this expedition. The Lost Crown surprisingly succeeds in offering a compelling experience despite its well-known platforming features, even if it doesn’t bring any novel techniques. While Sargon’s abilities—like the air dash, the bow and arrow (which may be used as a boomerang-like weapon), the dimension-shifting power, and the imprinting power—are not particularly novel, the game makes it quite entertaining to use them. The powers that are now available, albeit I haven’t finished the game, demonstrate a lack of creativity in the gameplay mechanics. With The Lost Crown, Ubisoft focuses on honing the use of common skills rather than trying to completely reinvent the platformer genre. The real feature of the game is how cleverly each level is designed, with the challenge being to figure out the complex dance of button pushes needed to get from point A to point B. Bravo to the level designers for their accomplishment in producing a unique gameplay experience. Even when faced with difficult challenges, Sargon’s smooth motions and the merciful cooldown on his powers add to the player’s sensation of mastery. Even though the puzzles in the game are challenging, the cleverly designed mechanics prevent players from becoming frustrated by repetition, letting them enjoy and challenge their increasing skill. One of the most memorable puzzles in the game’s latter levels has you trapped in a room with no way out except to use spectral clones of Sargon to go to an otherwise unreachable key item. The challenge consists of giving each ghost a time constraint to finish a particular task inside a broader problem.

For instance, activating a lever that opens a door allowing the following ghost to progress. I had only 12 seconds to maneuver a vertical shaft, make a duplicate, walk on a pressure plate, perform a double leap up another shaft, pull a lever, teleport to the location of my duplicate, and finally wall-jump my way to the final stage in a sequence with three ghost duplicates. I don’t like doing repetitive activities, which is a common reaction to difficult games, yet for some reason, this puzzle captivated me. Like a saxophonist lost in a Charlie Parker solo, I was engrossed in the complex ballet of movements to the point where I didn’t let the many attempts—well over forty—to figure out the puzzle’s answer or even attempt to solve it fall flat on my excitement. Repetition became enjoyable and interesting as the delight of ultimately mastering the routine outweighed any aggravation. Fighting turns out to be a difficult but rewarding feature of the game. As you progress, Sargon’s full skill set must be strategically used to defeat both common enemies and powerful bosses in order to escape triumphant and unharmed. Like solving platforming puzzles, the secret to success is learning attack patterns, picking the appropriate weapon from your vast toolbox, and dancing deftly to defeat enemies that punish overindulgence in damage.

Sargon gains new fighting skills as the game goes on, like a powerful thrust and a healing wave. Though they are new, some of these skills seem more suited for particular situations, and I was able to mostly ignore any new abilities that were added after the first two. They frequently boiled down to just “dealing more damage than usual,” and they didn’t appear compelling enough to merit regular use. They also felt lacking in significance and variation. The Lost Crown reminds me more of a soulslike than a typical metroidvania because of its complex puzzles and difficult boss encounters. Whether it’s fighting or figuring out puzzles, the activities at hand don’t feel unduly challenging or tiresome. As an alternative, they act as a progressive assessment of your developing abilities. “You’ve had your air dash ability for a while now; let’s assess how effectively you can use it,” appears to be the message that the game is trying to get over. Players get a unique experience where they grow alongside the protagonist as a result of the seamless integration of gameplay tests with the story of Sargon’s desire to establish himself as a younger, more recent Immortal. Beyond the well handled platforming and subtle fighting, the game’s vast landscape is its most inventive element. There are countless locations to discover and mysteries to delve into due to the map’s immense breadth. Players are rewarded with important objects like money for suggestions, upgrade materials, or necklace charms that increase Sargon’s powers even when they stray from the main plot line. Every region in the game has a unique theme that affects the kinds of platform obstacles you face. Some areas of the game include sand waterfalls that force you into narrow passageways with spikes that can instantly kill you, and the cursed library part, where you must use a bow-boomerang to ring bells and expose hidden platforms.

A unique signpost system is introduced in The Lost Crown to solve a problem that is frequent in metroidvania games: players may get disoriented and unsure of where to go next. This technology allows users to capture screenshots of their present position, which are then pinned to the in-game map. Players can look back at these screenshots after gaining new powers to see which regions they might now be able to enter. Ubisoft’s dedication to improving the entire gaming experience and honoring players’ time is evident in this well-considered navigation system.

(From the experience of Ash Parrish – Video Games Reporter)

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