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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Switch review - a royal return

In our Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Switch review we explain why this new Metroidvania is launching the franchise into a new era.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review - Sargon walkin forward in front of a Wak Wak tree

Our Verdict

Prince of Persia makes a solid comeback with The Lost Crown, embracing the Metroidvania genre and giving fans a world full of adventure and danger. The intriguing story, characters, and lack of bugs are just the cherry on top of a lovely sundae.

2010. The year we last got a mainline Prince of Persia game courtesy of The Forgotten Sands. It’s actually one of the better entries in the franchise, so much so that it begs the question, why is it taking so long to release another Prince of Persia game? Yes, I know I work for a mobile games site, but the Prince of Persia: Escape games hardly count here, especially when they don’t represent the best that the franchise has to offer.

For what feels like forever now, I’ve been awaiting the remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, one of the best games from my childhood. However, while each time I hear Ubisoft push it back hurts the child within me, I’d much rather the dev team take all the time they need to release a game worthy of the Prince of Persia name. Luckily for me, the good folks at Ubisoft Montpellier have been hard at work on a brand new game – Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

Since Ubisoft announced the game Summer Game Fest 2023, I’ve eagerly awaited its release. In my eyes, it represents a new dawn for the beloved franchise, for while the Sands of Time remake is sure to be a highlight, a series like this needs innovations from time to time, and The Lost Crown throws Prince of Persia into a genre that I’ve long thought it would suit.

While side-scrolling action isn’t necessarily new to PoP, the Metroidvania genre certainly is. As someone who’s a sucker for punishment with an ungodly love for the best Switch Metroidvanias, I appreciate this change in direction. Better still, The Lost Crown is a good Metroidvania, featuring everything that makes the genre a classic.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review: Sargon swings a sword at two enemie

Sargon, the game’s protagonist, starts with the bare basics regarding skills and gear, but you can unlock more as you explore Mount Qaf. If you’re familiar with Middle Eastern mythology, you likely recognize the name, as it’s a legendary mountain, though its significance can vary. Anyway, Sargon and his fellow members of the warrior clan, The Immortals, arrive at Mount Qaf at the behest of the Persian queen to rescue her son, Prince Ghassan.

The beginning events of the game see the prince kidnapped by someone Sargon thought he could trust, setting up some interesting plot points for later in the game. As someone who hates spoilers, I have no intention of divulging crucial narrative points, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the tutorial and opening hours of the game do a fine job of causing intrigue. From the second my feet hit the ground, The Lost Crown pulled me in; as soon as the traitorous scum kidnaps Ghassan, I know I’m in for the long haul, for I, too, felt the sting of betrayal, though I’d only been part of this world for 20 minutes.

Besides setting up the story, the tutorial does a great job of introducing you to traversal and combat. You can run, slide, and jump with Sargon, then use his two swords to cause some damage in combat. The end of the area sees you face off against Uvishka, the first boss of the game, and it’s vital that you pay attention to the lessons on offer. This fight forces you to dodge through the hulking general, giving you an opening to strike from behind, though it encourages you to pick your moments, too.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review: Sargon dashes across a level

It’s a waste of an attack if you charge in and get hit with a dreaded counter. Speaking of which, you can perform counterattacks through vengeful parries – these are available when your enemy flashes yellow. You need to pay attention to that, as they may also flash red, which indicates an unblockable attack; mistiming or misreading can lead to an incomplete parry, which punishes you severely. Welcome to Metroidvanias, a place where every fight can be your last. At least combat like this keeps you on the edge of your seat.

As is common in Metroidvanias and other difficult genres such as Soulslike games, the bosses can have multiple phases. For instance, Uvishka starts the fight on horseback but loses his steed at the midway point, making him a bit more aggressive in his stance. I applaud this fight, as it’s the perfect ending to a good tutorial that shows you precisely what you can expect throughout the rest of the game.

You might still not fully grasp combos and the like in the opening hours, but that’s okay; not too far into your journey, a fellow Immortal, Artaban, takes refuge near the shopkeep, where he becomes your permanent sparring partner, teaching you both the basics and advanced combat. There are many enemies to test your newfound knowledge on. Some require you to take a different approach, as Artaban Explains during your training.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review: Sargon fires an arrow at several enemies

You can launch enemies, smack them into the ground, dodge attacks, and parry them. Parries are great if you can land them, and they’re certainly more beneficial than dodging, though I can’t deny how handy a speedy retreat is sometimes. The best way to give yourself an edge in any battle is to make the most of your amulet slots. The game starts you off with three, and you can buy more. I came across new amulets quite frequently, and they would increase my health, resistance, attack power, and Athra energy storage. These can make all the difference between life and death, forcing you to be vigilant when selecting which ones to use.

Athra is a crucial component in The Lost Crown, as it allows you to perform obscenely powerful attacks that can either one-shot regular enemies or take off a considerable amount of health from a boss. Numerous skills you unlock use Athra, each of which falls into a different tier. Tier two skills take two Athra bars, whereas tier one skills require just one bar. It’s all a balancing act to ensure you don’t leave yourself short in a moment of need.

The same goes for if you’re merely exploring the environment. You never know when you might encounter a blocked path that you can only traverse with an Athra skill burst. This is something I considered throughout my time in The Lost Crown. Backtracking is a necessary part of any Metroidvania, but I can’t deny the convenience of having my Athra ready to go in the odd circumstance where it’s necessary to forge ahead.

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There are many bosses to encounter on Mount Qaf, some of which are optional as they belong to the numerous side quests you can embark on. It’s not just Sargon and The Immortals stuck in this mysterious land; others are desperately trying to find their way out or meet a warrior’s end, so it’s always a good idea to explore your surroundings fully. Honestly, the first time I swung from a pole, it took me back to my time with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – the fact I couldn’t fall into a pit of spikes was nice (though I fell into some later, but that’s not the point).

As Metroidvania veterans know, secrets lurk around every corner. However, not all areas are accessible when you first come across them. You need to unlock new skills and gear at certain points. Luckily, one of the more innovative features of The Lost Crown is memory shards, a neat mechanic that allows you to take pictures, which in turn updates your map to show these points of interest. It makes backtracking so much easier, and more than once, I thanked the devs for adding this feature.

I’m also forever thankful for Wak Wak trees. These gold trees essentially serve as checkpoints and are where you go to replenish your health, potions, arrows, and Athra energy. The first time I saw one of these, I was the walking wounded, so finding this tree and, ultimately, the map of the area was a welcome break.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review: Sargon runs across a level and readies an attack

Ubisoft Montpellier did a fantastic job of designing the map and the world. The forest boasts an ethereal beauty, the palace screams elegance, and the depths are dark and dank. Not only do the environments look good, but they’re fun to traverse and can pose a real threat at times. Platforming is a pretty important component in Metroidvanias and Prince of Persia in general, so for it to be present and as good as this helps to make The Lost Crown a solid game in an almost forgotten franchise.

So, it’s fair to say that I think Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an enjoyable experience that embraces the Metroidvania genre in the best ways, but how does it perform on Nintendo Switch? It thrills me to say that not only is the game graphically pleasing, but I didn’t encounter a single bug. Honestly, I think the Switch might be the platform to play it on. It’s something I feel about most games like this, as they tend to be good ones to have while traveling. Next time I’m on a plane, I might see if I can complete The Lost Crown from scratch during the flight.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown features strong characters, an interesting story, fun combat, and all the Metroidvania elements you could want while taking steps to make backtracking a bit easier. I highly recommend that fans of the franchise and the genre try this game. Prince of Persia is back, and I couldn’t be happier.

If Metroidvanias aren’t you’re thing, that’s okay. Maybe our lists of the best horror games, The Witcher games, and FNAF games have something for you to enjoy.