June 12, 2023

9 Min Read

ubisoft forward june 2023prince of persia

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Will Put Your Combat, Platforming, and Puzzle-Solving Skills to the Test

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will release on January 18, 2024. A side-scrolling action-adventure platformer, the game puts players in the role of Sargon, a member of an elite group of seven unique warriors known as the Immortals. Inspired by Metroidvanias, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is built on combat, platforming, and exploration, all tied together with quick, responsive, and precise controls.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown begins with the capture of Prince Ghassan, after which the Queen dispatches the Immortals to find and return her son. The trail leads the group to Mount Qaf; once the heart of Persia and home to the god of time, Simurgh, it is now afflicted by a time curse. Past and future coexist, driving the mountain's inhabitants mad and transforming them into monsters. As the youngest member of the Immortals, Sargon is brash and confident - traits that can be his biggest strength and his biggest weakness. It will be up to him to track down Prince Ghassan and discover the mysteries surrounding the curse of Mount Qaf.

A recent hands-on event at Ubisoft Montpellier gave us access to an early part of the game, where we explored Mount Qaf and got to play as a more powerful Sargon than one would normally have at this stage of the game, with increased health and extra weapons and abilities.  

[UN][Memory] Gameplay preview - POP2

At the beginning of the game, Sargon will have limited health and abilities, leaving players to master the timing of his parry and slide mechanics to counter and avoid enemy attacks. As you progress, you'll gain a host of new abilities - as well as modifiers known as amulets - to make Sargon more formidable in battle and open new paths of exploration. Amulets offer up buffs for Sargon, like turning his arrow shot into a three-arrow spread or giving him a second chance at life when dealt an otherwise fatal blow. Each amulet has a cost attached to it, however, and Sargon can only equip so many amulets at once (this allowance can be upgraded by visiting shopkeepers), so you'll need to choose the right amulets for your playstyle or situation. Amulets and abilities can only be swapped out at Wak Wak trees: golden trees that also replenish your health, health potions, and arrows. They're also where you'll save your game and respawn after you die.

Larger Than Life Battles

Sargon's weapons include his twin blades, Qays and Layla; his bow; and his Chakram, a charged projectile shot that can bounce off walls and return to Sargon. Combine these with his jump, slide, wall jump, parry, air attacks, directional attacks, and more, and Sargon quickly starts to feel like a master swordsman, with seemingly endless combos available to dispatch your cursed enemies. Enemies in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown have three different types of attacks: basic attacks which can be parried to briefly stun them; attacks where their eyes glow yellow, which can be parried to land a massive, cinematic counter-attack; and attacks where their eyes glow red, which cannot be parried, only dodged.

[UN][Memory] Gameplay preview - POP3

Sargon can also trigger powerful Athra Abilities, which unleash devastating anime-inspired special attacks and other effects. These are tied to his Athra gauge, which increases when he lands successful attacks, and depletes when he is hit. The Athra gauge can be filled to two levels, with each level allowing you to utilize a different ability. There are many different Athra Abilities, including the Super Massive Wave, a level-one ability that deals huge damage to enemies; or Bahman's Breath, a level-two ability that creates an explosion and a zone of effect that gradually heals Sargon. You can assign active Athra Abilities at Wak Wak trees.

Coming from Rayman creators Ubisoft Montpellier, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown offers up some challenging platforming, pushing players to weave extremely precise, acrobatic paths through traps and other hazards - but make no mistake, its boss encounters can prove just as difficult. Early on, when traversing the Lower City, we encountered Jahandar, a massive manticore with the body of a lion, horns of a ram, wings of a dragon, and tail of a scorpion. Each of Jahandar's attacks utilize a different part of his body, from his venomous tail sting to his horns-down charge attack, the latter of which could be parried to deal a large chunk of damage. After struggling against Jahandar's venomous tail attack, I returned to a Wak Wak tree to equip an amulet that lessened toxin damage - and once I could confidently parry its attacks, I also added an amulet that restored a small amount of health on a successful parry. Those amulets, combined with my Athra Abilities and good, old-fashioned trial and error, helped me defeat Jahandar.

Opening Up New Paths

Mount Qaf is filled with varied locations and multiple diverse biomes, like the Lower City and Autumnal Forest. The former is based around the urban and religious architecture of the Achaemenid and Sasanian empires, while the latter is inspired by Iran's Hyrcanian Forests. The Lower City was populated by undead soldiers and Prince of Persia's classic spinning spike traps, while the Autumnal Forest felt alive with masked headdress-wearing guardians and floral platforms that bloomed and faded as you leapt on them.

[UN][Memory] Gameplay preview - POP4

Enemies aren't the only residents of Mount Qaf. Throughout his journey, Sargon will come across a variety of NPCs who offer up sidequests, uncover parts of his map, reveal secrets, upgrade his equipment, or sell him various amulets and other goods. One such NPC is Kaheva, the blacksmith of the gods. In exchange for Time Crystals (a currency that all enemies drop when defeated), Kaheva will sell Sargon amulets, or upgrade his swords, bow, and quiver. Other, less godly, shopkeepers offer up more potent health potions or upgrades to the number of potions you can carry. In a world as hostile as Mount Qaf, friendly NPCs can be some of your strongest allies.

Your map will be a crucial tool as you explore Mount Qaf, helping you uncover new paths to traverse, challenges to overcome, and treasures to earn. Even with a map, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown's world is labyrinthine. To help players mark important locations, the development team added The Eye of the Wanderer, an ability that you can use to place a screenshot of a location on your map - so rather than having a random marker on your map that you may forget, you'll know exactly what NPC, puzzle, quest, enemy, or whatever else you chose to highlight is waiting for you at your marked location. Like other Metroidvanias, new paths will open up as you progress and unlock new abilities, so marking a location you can't access quite yet will come in handy when you need to revisit it.

Stay Light On Your Feet

Sargon will earn his own set of unique space- and time-manipulation powers that can aid him in combat, exploration, and puzzle solving, including the Rush of Simurgh and the Shadow of Simurgh. Rush of Simurgh is an air dash that is helpful for platforming challenges or escaping enemy attacks. Shadow of Simurgh lets him place a shadow of himself in an exact location with the press of a button. Pressing it again will immediately transport Sargon back to his previously marked location with the same momentum he had when it was initiated. It's the key to solving certain timing- and switch-based puzzles, and in a fight, it can be used to dodge a surprise attack, or to get the drop on an enemy by appearing directly behind them.

[UN][Memory] Gameplay preview - POP5

In one particularly difficult platforming challenge, I needed to navigate a chasm dotted with the outlines of various platforms and blocks. Shooting a nearby bell with an arrow would solidify the platforms in a small radius around the bell for a short time, forcing me to move quickly and think even quicker. Falling through a platform would often plunge Sargon into a pit of spikes, meaning I'd need to restart from the previous checkpoint. After many failed attempts at jumping, shooting, wall jumping, shooting, and air-dashing, I realized I wasn't making full use of Sargon's Shadow. During a platforming challenge, it can be used as an improvised checkpoint: Get to a safe point, create a teleport shadow, and if you start falling to your death, you can instantly transport back to safety to try again.

You don't need to create a shadow at a safe point - it can be used to get back to any location, even in midair. In one instance, I wasn't able to leap off a platform before it was about to disappear; adding a shadow of myself to the location before I fell meant that I didn't need to leap my way back up there. I just had to shoot the nearby bell and teleport back to the now-solid platform, with plenty of time to plan my next move.

The relatively brief time I spent with The Lost Crown showed off the challenging platforming and exploration that Ubisoft Montpellier is known for, and highlighted fast-paced, fluid combat encounters that were no walk in the park either.

You'll be able to explore Mount Qaf for yourself when Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown releases on January 18, 2024 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Epic Games Store, and Amazon Luna. For more information about the game, be sure to watch its debut trailer and .

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