Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (PS5) Review

A challenging Metroidvania with fluid combat that exudes style.

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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is Ubisoft’s first return to the long-running series in over a decade, and it’s not exactly what fans would have expected. Launching almost 14 years after The Forgotten Sands, The Lost Crown is a 2.5D side-scrolling Metroidvania where you don’t actually play as the titular time-bending Prince. This has startled and disappointed fans, who are still desperately waiting for the long-overdue The Sands of Time Remake – but don’t dismiss this reboot just yet.

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Ubisoft’s latest creation is a worthy entry in the series that stands on its own and delivers an ultra-stylish breath of fresh air. It’s a return to its 2D roots but envisioned through a modern lens with innovative gameplay features and stunning visuals. Teeming with exhilarating platforming sequences and bigger-than-life boss battles, this game keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown will launch on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC on January 18, 2024. You can download the free demo today or access the game three days early with Ubisoft+ or the Deluxe Edition.

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Exhilarating Platforming That Creates a Sense of Rhythm

Challenging platforming sequences keep you on the edge of your seat.
Challenging platforming sequences keep you on the edge of your seat.

Like the original game from 1989, The Lost Crown is a side-scrolling platformer where you traverse through a mythical version of Persia sprawling with deadly traps and even deadlier enemies. You play as Sargon, an acrobatic sword-wielding warrior of an elite group called ‘The Immortals,’ who sets out to save the missing Prince of Persia.

On your quest to find the young royal, you explore a vast and ever-expanding 2D map that stretches across various biomes. In typical Metroidvania fashion, you’ll find endless branching pathways, secret areas, and unsurpassable hurdles you’ll need new skills to overcome.

The game shines in its tough yet rewarding precision platforming. Ubisoft Montpellier is the team behind Rayman Legends, and their platformer expertise is evident. While it doesn’t feature actual rhythm levels like in Legends, The Lost Crown creates a sense of rhythm as you jump, dash, slide, swing, and shoot your way through treacherous environments. Performing a sequence of perfectly timed movements using various skills, tools, and elements kept my heart thumping as I tried to move to the beat of the game’s endless dangers.

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You pick up new skills along the way, allowing for ever-more creative ways to cross deadly sections and solve enigmatic puzzles. While you can’t bend time at will, you can eventually dash and teleport through space and time. One particularly useful skill lets Sargon create a shadow version of himself, which he can teleport back to.

Combat in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Is Sleek and Flashy

A perfect parry triggers a flashy animation of Sargon striking his enemy.  
A perfect parry triggers a flashy animation of Sargon striking his enemy.

The world is sprawling with enemies of all shapes and sizes, with each biome featuring unique inhabitants. Combat feels fresh and fluid and places a strong focus on parrying. Perfecting this move will reward you with a flashy anime-style animation showing Sargon crushing his opponent, which never gets old. Fail to perfect the timing, and you’ll be punished with a just as flashy animation of Sargon getting a beating.

The main boss battles are a sight to behold, as mythical creatures tower over Sargon and bombard you with a wide range of attacks. They are tough and sometimes punishing, but never to a degree where victory feels utterly out of reach, even after dying countless times.

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To defeat even the biggest enemies, you have a couple of powerful special attacks that deal a lot of damage and recharge during battle. Additionally, Amulets grant you passive abilities and allow you to customize your skills to your playstyle and the foes and environments you’re facing.

Do you prefer playing defense? Then increase your health bar and let parries recharge your health. Is offense your go-to? Then give your attacks and weapons more oomph. I enjoyed how these add more variety and let you play your way.

Memory Shards Are a Metroidvania Game-Changer

<em>Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown</em> is challenging but offers various features to modify the experience and difficulty level.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is challenging but offers various features to modify the experience and difficulty level.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown can be tough. But the game offers a bevy of features and difficulty parameters that allow you to fine-tune your experience. Platforming Assist, for instance, lets you skip tricky platforming sections altogether, without any effect on progression, while a long list of accessibility features lets you adjust the game to your preferences and needs.

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The game also introduces a brilliant feature that pushes the genre forward, the so-called Memory Shards. Whenever you find yourself facing an insurmountable hurdle, you can take a snapshot of it and pin it to the map. Just like taking a note, this allows you to easily remember inaccessible locations and puzzles, without having to needlessly backtrack.

This is particularly useful, as backtracking can be very time-consuming. There are only a handful of fast-travel locations, so getting to a certain area can feel daunting – especially when you’re not sure if you’re on the right track.

The game offers minimal guidance and instructions on what to do to make it to the next stage. And while it features a so-called Guided Mode that reveals the location of the next quest, it doesn’t tell you how to get there.

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The game tends to make you want to bang your head against the wall, thinking that there is simply no way to progress until you finally find a solution, either in an entirely different part of the map – or right in front of you. While this can be rewarding, frequent roadblocks left me frustrated at times. A bit more guidance, at least in the Guided Mode, could have helped reduce frustration.

Stunning Visuals Make the World Come to Life

<em>Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown</em> boasts a gorgeous 2.5D world to get lost in – figuratively and literally.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown boasts a gorgeous 2.5D world to get lost in – figuratively and literally.

I unfortunately experienced a bug, which might have been the reason I couldn’t progress at one stage. I was at my wit’s end, unable to complete a quest, until I entered a path on the other end of the map. Suddenly, a cut scene got triggered, in which the characters discussed events (including a boss fight) that I wasn’t a part of. It seems I somehow skipped a part of the mission.

Thankfully, the game progressed, and I was able to keep playing, despite being confused about what had happened. Even after rolling credits, that quest is still listed as active, meaning I never got to complete it.

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The game unfortunately doesn’t offer multiple save slots, so there is no way to reload a previous save file, which I would have loved to do. It’s also not possible to replay missions, so I just kept going, as I was already many hours into the game and didn’t want to start over.

While I, unfortunately, missed a crucial story beat, the narrative and setting of the game offer an interesting backdrop with countless twists and turns that compel you to keep going. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is set on Mount Qaf from Persian mythology, where time and space have been broken and scattered like grains of sand, and different timelines and dimensions diverge and intersect.

The stunning visuals and superb animations elevate the entire experience. This game emanates style from every corner, with each of its vastly unique biomes coming to life with awe-inspiring visuals. From eerie sewers and lush forests to opulent palaces and icy mountains, each biome is an entirely different world with a distinctive atmosphere.

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Bombastic soundtracks set the vibe in each level and rev up during boss battles, while the overall sound design allows you to be fully immersed in the world. Gorgeous and detailed cinematics to boot, continuously had me staring at the screen in awe.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a stylish and challenging action platformer that nails every aspect that makes a great Metroidvania and pushes the genre forward with its clever Memory Shard feature.

While I encountered a particularly disappointing bug, the game’s excellent platforming, tough, rhythmic combat, and stunning visuals more than made up for it. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown isn’t just a powerful new contender in the Metroidvania genre, it’s also a worthy entry in the series that adds new flavor to the franchise. Even if you’re disappointed that this isn’t The Sands of Time Remake you’ve been waiting for, The Lost Crown is a jewel of a game that you shouldn’t let slip through your fingers.

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8/10

8 out of 10

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied to FandomWire by Ubisoft. As featured on OpenCritic.

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Written by Lisa Kamlot

Articles Published: 67

Lisa is a passionate video game content writer with an insatiable appetite for all things gaming and an avid movie enthusiast. When she’s not diving into virtual worlds, she’s riding waves as a dedicated surfer. She’s always on a quest for adventure – both in the digital realm and IRL.