Game Reviews

The Rogue Prince of Persia Is Roguelite Precision Platforming at Its Finest

We’ve had to wait a little longer for Ubisoft and Evil Empire’s The Rogue Prince of Persia to hit Early Access than we might have liked.

In a move that showed admirable humility (as well as making perfect commercial sense, natch), the roguelite platformer was delayed in mid-May in order to dodge the surprise release of Hades 2. Evil Empire’s fear seemed to be that the release of such a high-profile competitor would damage its own effort’s chances.

Having spent a good few hours with the Early Access build, I can confidently state that in quality terms, at least, Evil Empire needn’t have worried. The Rogue Prince of Persia is a fast, fluid, and supremely fun roguelite platformer, and it’s a worthy addition to its venerable franchise.

The Rogue Prince of Persia Has Some Surprising Story Chops

The Prince noticing signs of a struggle in The Rogue Prince of Persia
I didn’t expect The Rogue Prince of Persia’s story element to be so well-incorporated.

The story setup is fairly simple. Huns have invaded Persia, and they’ve taken to corrupting themselves with shamanistic magic in order to gain the upper hand. As the titular rogue Prince of Persia, you arrive back at your homeland to discover it being pillaged, and you must take it back.

This being Prince of Persia, though, you’ve also got a magical trick up your sleeve in the form of a bola that revives you when you die, bringing you back to the point in time at which you arrived at the staging ground for your counterattack.

Rather cleverly, The Rogue Prince of Persia incorporates this device into its storytelling. As you play, you’ll find a range of sub-objectives to complete, each of which requires you to venture into one of your kingdom’s levels in order to complete it.

You might, for instance, find a trapped prisoner in the Tower of Oblivion, and a nearby note instructs you to travel to the Aqueduct in order to flip a switch and free him. 

It’s a smart way to ensure that no run feels wasted. Not only was I unlocking new weapons and passive bonuses to use on subsequent runs, but I also felt like I was making a material difference to the war effort simply by returning to conquered levels and finding new pathways.

Precision Platforming in The Rogue Prince of Persia Feels Great

The Prince leaping across platforming hazards in the Gardens in The Rogue Prince of Persia
I think that thing just wants a hug.

Of course, all of this would be naught but sand in the wind if the core platforming and combat didn’t feel good in The Rogue Prince of Persia. I’m happy to report that both of the core elements are hugely satisfying, even in this Early Access state.

Our very own Andrew Stretch only got to play about half an hour or so of The Rogue Prince of Persia back in April, but he was impressed by its “degrees of freedom”, and that’s very much the phrase of the day here.

As you’d expect from a Prince of Persia game, the Prince is an acrobatic, agile warrior. He can jump, run along walls (including those in the background), spring from poles, and scramble up ledges, all of which give The Rogue Prince of Persia a feel not unlike its classic cinematic platformer predecessors.

The Rogue Prince of Persia makes the most of these moves, too, especially in its traversal rooms. While the difficulty never feels as murderous as in, say, Hollow Knight’s White Palace, you’ll need all your platforming nous if you’re going to survive this Hun invasion.

The sheer fluidity and grace with which the Prince moves make platforming in Evil Empire’s game an absolute joy. I never got tired of traversal, and each new platforming challenge room I unlocked provoked a soft “yes” under my breath.

The Rogue Prince of Persia’s Combat Is Simple, But Rewarding

The Prince confronting Berude in The Rogue Prince of Persia
Once you get the boss patterns down, they’re not so tough.

Those platforming moves can be incorporated into the Prince’s combat suite, too, and you’ll need to do so if you want to get the upper hand on your enemies.

Combat in The Rogue Prince of Persia is pretty straightforward. You’ve got a basic attack, a special attack that you perform by holding down the attack button, and a range of special tools like bows and chakram.

On their own, enemies are pretty simple to beat, but the numbers quickly escalate, and it won’t be long before you’re sailing over enemies’ heads, diving down to break their shields, then getting in a few swipes before vanishing atop a nearby pole and springing away.

To put it simply, The Rogue Prince of Persia absolutely nails the feeling of acrobatic combat that is Prince of Persia at its best. There are few feelings more satisfying than clearing out a wave of enemies by zipping over their heads, joyfully using the verticality that eludes the brutal Huns.

The Early Access build of The Rogue Prince of Persia includes two boss fights, and they feel nicely varied and balanced. Both of them use the environment in interesting ways, so I’m excited to see what Evil Empire can do with subsequent updates.

Balance in The Rogue Prince of Persia Needs Work

The Prince battling enemies in the Hun Camp in The Rogue Prince of Persia
Some of The Rogue Prince of Persia’s medallions and weapons just feel better than others.

Indeed, updates will be required to address a couple of the issues I did have with The Rogue Prince of Persia, minor though they may be in the face of its triumphant core gameplay.

In short, balancing issues abound. In addition to a range of weapons, The Rogue Prince of Persia also offers a variety of medallions to equip, and they offer passive bonuses like setting areas on fire when taking damage or restoring health at checkpoints.

Both the weapons and the medallions are in dire need of rebalancing. Some weapons felt absolutely hideous, like the claw, which deals pathetic damage and messes up positioning thanks to the dash attack at the end of its combo.

Others, however, felt indispensable. The sword that builds up attack damage with successive hits, for instance, is a juggernaut that almost feels broken, and the heavy axe-style weapon that stuns enemies when its combo finishes is absurdly powerful.

The medallions suffer from a similar issue. Some are so situational as to feel useless, while others, like the one that revives you on death or the one that hurls daggers every time you vault over an enemy, feel like runs are almost impossible without them.

The Rogue Prince of Persia Preview | Final Thoughts

The Prince fighting Bataar in The Rogue Prince of Persia
I’m excited to see where The Rogue Prince of Persia goes next.

I’m confident Evil Empire can address the aforementioned balance issues with time and attention to community feedback. The Rogue Prince of Persia’s core gameplay is already rock-solid, which is immensely encouraging for an Early Access title.

I also want to give a special shout-out to composer Danny Asadi, whose mixture of traditional instrumentation and electronic production is absolutely superb. Do yourself a favor: if you pick this one up, stay idle in Zagros Village for a while and listen to the music. You won’t regret it.

Ubisoft paying attention to the Prince of Persia franchise feels like a dream come true for me. The Lost Crown and The Rogue Prince of Persia feel like a knockout one-two blow, so I can only hope that the long-delayed Sands of Time remake continues the hot streak.

The Rogue Prince of Persia was previewed on PC with a code provided by the publisher over roughly 4.5 hours of gameplay – all screenshots were taken during the preview process.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Translate »