It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a Prince of Persia game, and it seems like the Prince of Persia: Sand of Time remake continues to be stuck in production hell. So, imagine our surprise when Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown appeared. Ubisoft Montpellier is developing the title, who you may remember from the stellar 2D platformers Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends.
The pedigree doesn’t stop there either, as Gareth Coker is on soundtrack duties, a phenomenal talent that fans may recognize from his recent work on Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Coker is also teaming up with Iranian musician Mentrix, and we’re excited to see what the Persian-inspired title holds with this kind of talent in the driver’s seat.
We have played around 30 mins of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (The Lost Crown from here on out), and while trailers clearly explain that the title is a Metroidvania game with a flash of the historical flair that Prince of Persia fans love, nothing quite does justice to getting a controller in your hand and taking this title for a run. When I say I’m impressed, that’s underselling it dramatically, so read all about it in our Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown preview.
First up, it’s very clear that Ubisoft Montpellier has played Metroid Dread, and I mean that in the best possible way. In the extended gap before Metroid’s last 2D outing, Metroid Fusion, the genre evolved and created such modern classics as Hollow Knight and the aforementioned Ori games. Metroid Dread didn’t just bring the series screaming back into this decade. It showed exactly why Metroid and Nintendo are still the top of the class.
In The Lost Crown, you play as Sargon, a young warrior with a pithy attitude and a particular aptitude for platforming. First impressions show that the game is straddling a fine line between witty banter and annoying drivel, a line that Immortals: Fenyx Rising sadly couldn’t quite balance. Here, Sargon is a likable protagonist with some great one-liners, and the cast surrounding him all add some great world-building and humor without over-explaining.
It’s hard to judge the story from a few minutes of cut-scenes, but at the very least, I like our hero, Sargon, quite a bit, and the brooding antagonist did a nice bit of foreboding dialogue and scenery chewing. It’s not quite life-changing, but it’s like a teenage Kid Icarus: Uprising with a great blend of humor and stakes helping to drive the narrative forward and keep you engaged.
Now, onto the good stuff. The Lost Crown controls like a dream. There’s a reason I mentioned Metroid Dread, and that’s because Ubisoft Montpellier is crafting a movement system that feels just as smooth and satisfying as Samus’ latest outing. Sargon zips around the stage, but still with a nice feeling of weight and confidence. You can quickly access a run after using your dash, slide underneath obstacles, and can briefly cling to walls to bounce off them and gain height.
Your character just feels great to control and has exactly the sort of acrobatic movepool I expect from a Prince of Persia game. Sargon has two swords for close-quarters combat, a long-range bow (with a handy line showing you where your attacks will land), and can parry attacks that enemies telegraph with a yellow flash. Deal enough damage and pull off enough parry attacks, and you charge a special meter, allowing you to unleash one massive attack sure to deal mammoth damage.
This combination of attacks keeps the action steady, while also allowing you to move around the level as you please and pull off ranged attacks, then occasionally dashing in to deflect yellow attacks and gain the sweet parry. It’s a satisfying combat system, but one that works very well with the platforming at your disposal, as Ubisoft Montpellier seems to have considered each attack alongside Sargon’s platforming prowess.
It feels incredible to zip around levels, bouncing off walls and using poles to swing yourself higher, and then flashing under obstacles only to pull off some quick sword attacks and a big flash parry to finish it all off. Where Metroid Dread is more focused on you stopping moving, then attacking, and carrying on, instead, The Lost Crown feels like a natural evolution for Rayman Legends, where traversal and combat are one and the same.
You can definitely feel that Rayman DNA in The Lost Crown, as the levels feel like they have a certain rhythm to them, even though this time it’s all one large area. That’s right, The Lost Crown is definitely a Metroidvania, with one large interconnected world just waiting for you to unlock some powers and uncover some shortcuts along the way.
You also stop at beautiful golden trees to change your loadout, and much like Hollow Knight’s badges, Sargon has a growing arsenal of amulets you can equip to swap your abilities on the fly. There’s also plenty of collectibles dotted around, though in our brief demo, it mainly seems to be these blue time crystals you use to purchase more attacks and weapons. We’re sure amulets and other mysteries are waiting for players, and we did only explore a small corner of the world.
After darting around, slaying some zombies, and solving some platforming puzzles involving some time-bending ledges, we arrived at the demo’s boss, the Manticore. A gruesome and imposing boss, this reminded us quite a bit of the Corpius boss fight from Metroid Dread, where, similarly, we’re stuck in a confined space with a large beast that has one hell of a sting on its tail.
The Manticore boss fight is not easy, demanding your attention and skills. It’s a great example of the cohesion between movement and attacks, as the Manticore’s imposing figure challenges Sargon to leap around the room to avoid many different attacks and then quickly zip in to grab that all-important parry when necessary. Sure, you can stand back and chip away with your arrow attack if you want, but you’ll run out of arrows quicker than the Manticore runs out of patience.
My time with The Lost Crown was brief, but I’m already aching to play more. As a hardcore Rayman Legends fan who also adores Metroid Dread (and Kid Icarus: Uprising), I’m incredibly pleased to see Ubisoft Montpellier handle my beloved childhood franchise, Prince of Persia, with such care. More importantly, this feels like a natural step for the series, blending that time-based platforming with a nimble protagonist and a gorgeous Middle Eastern setting. We don’t have too long to wait until the Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown release date, but after this demo, we can barely wait another day.
We have a while to wait before Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown arrives, so while we wait, why not check out our guide to the best Switch Metroidvanias to keep you going.