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Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown – The Final Preview

I'll be honest: Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown sounded just fine on paper, but what I really wanted was the long-gestating remake of the greatest Prince of Persia game of them all, The Sands of Time. That 2003 gem channeled the spirit of the classic original game while brilliantly modernizing it. The franchise has arguably been chasing that high ever since. But that remake is still MIA.

So when I sat down to play the first few hours of The Lost Crown, then, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn't some low-budget, 2.5D attempt to recapture that early 21st-century glory. Instead, Ubisoft's first properly new Prince of Persia game since the 2008 reboot is its own game – a Metroidvania – and it's such a great fit that I'm scratching my head wondering how this franchise and genre never got together before.

Playing as Sargon, one of the not-literal Immortals who safeguard Persia, The Lost Crown promises to be a 20-25 hour romp set mostly in the chrono-cursed Mount Qaf following a betrayal of the highest order. Based on the initial few hours I experienced, I'd say that Ubisoft likely isn't exaggerating; this should be a fairly meaty adventure. And the biggest thing that became quickly and unexpectedly apparent during my quest was that I was going to have to dust off some of my old action-game skills, forged by Ninja Gaiden on Xbox around the same time The Sands of Time came out.

The Lost Crown is no joke in the combat department.

Put another way, The Lost Crown is no joke in the combat department. It harkens back to the original Prince of Persia in that regard. Right from the jump, the bad guys here come out swinging – swords, polearms, and plenty of other weapons – and you'll need to be quick to parry attacks (the ones with a yellow indicator), lest they take a bit bite out of the three measly health bars you start with if they connect. Unblockable attacks, marked by a red glimmer, can't be parried, so you'll need to avoid those altogether. I preferred to do that by sliding underneath them so I could counterattack from behind.

On this note, The Lost Crown also wastes no time in throwing you into one-on-one battles with bosses! I fought several of them in the opening hours, and I found these fights to be just the right combination of challenging without reaching the point of frustration. On this massive monstrosity, for example, I spent way too long trying to brute-force him before finally settling down, learning his attack patterns, and emerging victorious in a white-knuckle battle. That tussle still took a good three-and-a-half minutes on account of his massive health bar.

But this is still a Prince of Persia game, and so there is plenty of precision platforming to do as well. Thankfully, the penalty for failing to clear that bed of spikes isn't instant death (and instead just one segment of your health bar), but traversal is no walk in the park. In fact, one thing I didn't especially care for in the first few hours was getting around the map. This is a Metroidvania, and as such you'll go up, down, left, and right on the map, and you'll need to return to places you've already been. Traveling long distances, which you will need to do, is somewhat cumbersome, particularly in the first couple of hours before you unlock fast-travel stations.

Another layer of The Lost Crown I did like was the upgrades. You can purchase items – like additional health potion capacity, which I can promise you will need – as well as upgrades like additional amulet slots. Amulets are passive upgrades you can find around the world or purchase, and they offer things like extra health, extra damage, etc. I get the sense that I'll welcome the ability to tailor my build the deeper into this adventure I get.

Ubisoft promises it will run at 60fps on all platforms (including Nintendo Switch).

Visually, The Lost Crown isn't terrible but it's not great either, though Ubisoft promises it will run at 60fps on all platforms (including Nintendo Switch). I played on PC and only had a couple moments of slowdown that I won't hold against it, considering that the team is still polishing the game. Odds are these minor annoyances will be smoothed out by the time it launches in mid-January.

One criticism I'd levy thus far that's unlikely to be fixed, however, is the onboarding process. For my taste, The Lost Crown takes way too long to get going from a combat mechanics perspective. It took most of the initial three hours of the campaign that I played before I had enough tricks in my bag to start holding my own in combat. And while yes, this is a Metroidvania that's meant to peel back additional onion layers as you progress, I'd still argue that this Prince of Persia doles out its combat basics way too slowly.

Nevertheless, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a surprisingly deep, no-nonsense Metroidvania that looks set to get our gaming year of 2024 off to a good start.

Ryan McCaffrey is IGN's executive editor of previews and host of both IGN's weekly Xbox show,
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, as well as our monthly(-ish) interview show,
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. He's a North Jersey guy, so it's "Taylor ham," not "pork roll." Debate it with him on Twitter at
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