You can lose your mind in the caverns of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, travelling in maddening circles as you look for entrances to strange temples, or hideouts for boss types. You can scrape and claw at the walls – jumping, boosting, double jumping, flipping, turning and teleporting to your heart’s content – and still find blank walls and inscrutable puzzles awaiting you. Yet with an elegant balance between frustrating and satisfaction, The Lost Crown unravels its tale with a deft and rewarding hand. In short: It’s the reinvention Prince of Persia has long deserved.
Our tale begins with the arrival of The Immortals, a legendary team of warriors of which protagonist Sargon is an essential part. While he is the youngest and scrappiest, and takes the vast majority of ribbing from his family, he’s also a talented, lethal protector – who serves Persia with his entire soul.
Of course, it’s this dedication that lands him in jeopardy, as family loyalties are tested and a mysterious, emerging secret threatens to unbalance the kingdom of Persia, and its titular Prince.
To right the scales of the universe, Sargon is sent on a wild quest across Persia and its many unique locales, with the game’s Metroidvania design dictating an exploratory back-and-forth between gorgeous, painterly worlds as Sargon develops his skills, encounters new threats, and eventually masters the art of agility and sleek combat.
Persia is a lavish backdrop to explore, with each of the game’s themed locales presenting a new array of challenges – most commonly of the platforming variety. You may start out with a simple jump, run, attack control scheme, but once you enter the lower rungs of Persia, you’ll discover new, more complex methods of traversal which allow for more stylish flourishes, and death-defying escapes from monstrous creatures.
There is artistry in the way Sargon moves, with his agility being a core focus of the adventure. Thanks to swift, responsive design, you’ll be able to manoeuvre Sargon in lithe, snappy motions – traversing spike pits, tricking enemies, climbing up walls, and avoiding damage by the skin of your teeth. There’s a dance and a rhythm to this process, with some areas boasting incredibly stressful, but very worthwhile, environmental puzzles that allow you to build up Sargon’s skills.
Take the image above – a world of instant-death spikes and floating icicles ready to freeze you, and force you to plummet to your death. The movement through these spaces is fluid: Sargon pushes off the wall, dashes through the air, performs a twirl and a slash to avoid the icicles, then slides down the rightmost wall, only to bounce off, past spikes below. Breathe in, breathe out – and let the magic happen.
The process is daunting at first, but Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is patient and understanding. It teaches you the skills you need in bouts against towering enemies, with new skills added as you conquer your latest set of challenges. Even on easier modes, this dance proves challenging – but in its approach to the Metroidvania genre, Ubisoft has thankfully accounted for that.
Approachability is key here. For one thing, The Lost Crown includes a rare feature for a Metroidvania: the ability to place “Memories” on the map, so you know to return to a particular location once you’ve unlocked a certain ability. It’s a simple inclusion, but one that proves essential as the web of The Lost Crown continues to spread. It encourages exploration, but fruitfully so. You may spend time to hit dead ends, but this frustration quickly becomes inspiration. You want to push yourself further.
By far the most prescient and thoughtful inclusion is the game’s Platform Assist Mode, which allows you to skip entire platforming segments – for any reason, with little consequences. You may miss a collectible or two, but The Lost Crown does not punish you for getting frustrated, or lacking the patience to pull off a jump-dash-jump-portal-dash-slide-jump-jump combo. Turn on Platform Assist, and you simply unlock an optional portal to travel through – one that fits, in canon, and eases off the pressure of The Lost Crown‘s most difficult moments.
To be clear, there is only a little hand-holding in this approach, as you will still need to think through and complete various complex puzzles on your own – and there are plenty that’ll stretch your mental muscles and have you feeling like a genius once you work out the solution – but with a light helping hand, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown balances its difficulty well.
Its boss fights are equally well-balanced, with similar skills needed to deploy successful attacks in quick succession – dodging, jumping, parrying and slashing with precision timing is key to avoiding high-damage blasts and getting away with a ballet of swords, brought to life in stylish, high-octane splashes of colour.
As a layered platformer, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown rocks that tangible sense of cool that’s so hard to define and grasp. It packs in style and satisfaction, and consistently rewards you for exploring further, challenging yourself, and surmounting its vast wave of puzzles.
While its story fades to the background as you strive and struggle, there are enough clever choices in the game’s environments and snapshot fights that it hardly matters. There is intrigue and plot twists for those who wish to find it, but The Lost Crown‘s most satisfying beats are earned with your own skills, fought for in dungeons filled with beasts.
At the end of the road, you’ll wonder how you ever made it – past villains, and monsters, and strange god-like beings – but with such engaging puzzling and such sleek mechanics, The Lost Crown gives you plenty of reasons to be proud of your journey.
Four stars: ★★★★
A PS5 and PC version of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was provided for the purposes of this review. The PC version of the game was played on the ASUS ROG Ally. GamesHub reviews are rated on a five-point scale. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.