Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown starts off as a slow burn plagued by overly simplistic and unremarkable platforming, coupled with a disjointed narrative that failed to engage me. If I had reviewed the game based solely on its first 15 hours, my impressions would have been much more negative. However, the latter half of the game capitalizes on its strengths, leaving me wishing the entire experience had matched this quality.

Ubisoft’s attempt at a metroidvania pleasantly surprised me, despite my usual disinterest in the genre and the Prince of Persia series. Although I’m less enthusiastic than when I first previewed The Lost Crown last summer, I can’t deny its competence in mastering the basics.

Immortal Reign Although unfamiliar with previous Prince of Persia titles, I understand that this marks the series’ return after 14 years, reverting to its 2D platforming roots and introducing a new protagonist named Sargon in lieu of the titular prince. Sargon belongs to the Immortals, a group tasked with protecting Prince Ghassan and safeguarding Persia.

Unfortunately, Sargon’s protection skills fall short when his mentor Anahita kidnaps Ghassan to Mount Qaf, where time behaves erratically, resulting in bizarre occurrences and mysterious figures. Sargon embarks on a mission with the Immortals to rescue Ghassan amidst the surreal happenings.

At least, that’s what I gather from the story. The Lost Crown’s narrative feels underdeveloped, lacking essential world-building and leaving me confused about character identities and motivations, as if I’m expected to already know the backstory.

Ultimately, a stronger narrative could have redeemed the game’s lackluster early hours. Upon arriving at Mount Qaf with Sargon, I only had basic abilities like jump, slide, and ground dash at my disposal. The promise of new abilities teased by out-of-reach chests kept me going, but the initial hours felt like a slog with the limited toolkit I had.

The initial stages of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown offer a solid introduction to platforming basics—dash across gaps, scale walls between columns, and slide under dangling spikes. However, the game’s gradual rollout of Time Powers, such as airdashing, creating copies of Sargon, and manipulating dimensions, felt a bit too slow for my taste. The airdash, the first Time Power I acquired, took a couple of hours to obtain, which left me feeling constrained during the early puzzles. Despite breezing through initial exploration, I yearned for more challenging gameplay, especially as someone not deeply familiar with the genre.

As I accumulated more Time Powers, Ubisoft’s platforming creativity truly blossomed, particularly after gaining the double jump ability around 15 hours into my playthrough. This marked a turning point for The Lost Crown, as the puzzles and platforming became significantly more demanding. Suddenly, I found myself facing intricate challenges that required precise execution and strategic use of abilities.

One memorable segment tasked me with activating blocks, jumping away to avoid imminent danger, and then swiftly hopping on top before the block vanished—a puzzle that stumped me for nearly 40 minutes, providing a gratifying sense of achievement once conquered. This phase of the game felt like The Lost Crown hitting its stride, transforming the final 10 hours into an entirely different and exhilarating experience.

Credit must be given to The Lost Crown’s exceptional movement and platforming mechanics. Every jump, dash, and slide felt responsive and fluid, enhancing Sargon’s control during trickier segments. Even when I faced repeated failures, I never felt unfairly treated by the game. The inclusion of abilities like creating and teleporting to a copy of myself proved invaluable for navigating challenging sections, offering a welcome alternative to restarting from scratch after falling.

Beyond movement, Time Powers are integral to combat, seamlessly integrating with Sargon’s standard dual blade and bow-and-arrow attacks. The combat mechanics, reminiscent of fighting games, allowed for satisfying juggling of enemies in the air, unleashing super moves, and executing well-timed parries. However, I often found myself defaulting to basic attacks and dodging due to the difficulty of setting up charged attacks or parries in the heat of battle, particularly when facing multiple adversaries.

Despite its frustrations, combat consistently provided a challenge, with boss battles being especially rewarding once I deciphered their patterns. The Lost Crown’s customizable difficulty settings further enhance the experience, catering to different playstyles and preferences.

While the game has its shortcomings—primarily a slow start and underwhelming narrative—I commend Ubisoft for implementing features like the Memory Shard system, which significantly enhanced my overall experience. The ability to capture and pin screenshots to the map proved invaluable for navigation and backtracking, particularly for players like myself prone to forgetfulness.

In conclusion, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, though initially underwhelming, evolves into a competent metroidvania experience that shines in its later stages. With a more engaging narrative and consistent pacing, it could have achieved greatness. As it stands, The Lost Crown remains a solid entry in the genre, offering enjoyable gameplay marred by a sluggish start.

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