Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Joe Donnelly

Prince of Persia The Lost Crown has given the 35-year-old series its second reinvention, but I still think it's better-suited to action RPG over Metroidvania

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

Shining the spotlight on someone other than the prince was a bold move for Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, but that's the path Ubisoft Montpellier reportedly chose at the outset of development. It's understood the game grew into the Metroidvania genre over time, but, being brought to life by the same studio responsible for the esteemed Rayman series, The Lost Crown's penchant for platforming was never really in doubt. For some, what was more problematic, even more so than the prince not taking center stage, was the fact that this game isn't a 3D-action adventure in the style of Ubi's 2003 franchise reboot, The Sands of Time. When Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was officially unveiled at last year's Summer Game Fest, this facet of the series' fandom made themselves heard.  

Longstanding players have long fancied a return to the original 3D trilogy – a trifecta that encompassed The Sands of Time (2003), Warrior Within (2004), and The Two Thrones (2005) – but speaking personally, as someone who played the 1989 original not long after it hit European shores, and who also enjoyed the 2007 scene-by-scene reimagining, I've always wanted to see Prince of Persia push deeper into the side-scrolling space, even if that's in tandem with the proposed (but long-delayed) The Sands of Time remake. 

You can read my thoughts in full in our Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review, but I think Ubisoft's latest cavern-crawling caper – the series' first mainline outing in 14 years – is a watershed moment.

Watch the throne

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Crown. I'm a sucker for Metroidvania games, and as noted above, I'm old enough to have played the almost-35-year-old original DOS version of Prince of Persia around release. Despite some clear push back from pockets of the series' fandom at reveal, I was sold on The Lost Crown's 2.5D style from the outset – and in practice, when it wasn't tripping over its convoluted story and force-feeding me its awkward narrative interjections, I'd go as far to say I loved it. 

Away from its deft platforming and lovely visuals, one of The Lost Crown's biggest achievements is the fact that it has successfully reinvented the Prince of Persia series itself. In 2003, the series' jump to 3D via The Sands of Time marked its first major reinvention, and while the 2008 game (named simply Prince of Persia) was a distinct shift into the action-adventure space, the fact that arrived in the same era always made it feel like an extension of the the Sands of Time trilogy. 

Following a 14-year mainline series hiatus, The Lost Crown has made Prince of Persia novel again – and while the Metroidvania genre may not have been the obvious route for doing so, it definitely fits the series' core themes of crypt-crawling, boss battling, and death-defying trap-dodging. Which is to say: all of the pieces fit here, but is this the path the series should continue down from here? 

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

"Don't get me wrong, I'd gladly take another Metroidvania in the style of The Lost Crown – but not at the expense of The Sands of Time remake and/or whatever strides the series might have up its sleeve moving forward"

For me, it's not. In the same way Assassin's Creed Mirage's streamlined and contained composition scratched an itch from the past, I see The Lost Crown as more of a stepping stone between the series of old and what's to come next. Ubisoft has already billed Assassin's Creed Red as the studio's "biggest blockbuster for 2024", and I suspect a reestablished Prince of Persia is, and should, be thinking along similar lines.

Ubisoft has also spent the last few years delaying its long-awaited and much-anticipated Prince of Persia The Sands of Time remake – a game that was unveiled at Ubisoft Forward 2020, first due at the tail-end of January the following year, and then pushed back to some point during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Ubisoft Montreal eventually took over development (from the studio's Mumbai and Pune outfits), before switching the remakes release date to the vaguest window of "TBA". Take from that what you will, but I reckon it's fair to say Ubisoft is taking its time with a game now over 20 years old, with a following who knows exactly what they want.

And why not, that's not only Ubisoft's prerogative, but it's also, surely, what's best for Prince of Persia moving forward. Don't get me wrong, I'd gladly take another Metroidvania in the style of The Lost Crown – but not at the expense of The Sands of Time remake and/or whatever strides the series might have up its sleeve moving forward. For me, The Lost Crown is a palette cleanser ahead of the main course down the line. Until then, I say let Ubisoft cook. 

Check out the best Metroidvania games to explore to absolute completion 

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.