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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown Evaluation: A Daring New Path for the Prince

Up to now few years, Metroidvanias and action-adventure platformers have seen a resurgence. Ori and the Blind Forest, Hole Knight and Lifeless Cells have breathed new life into the style, bringing contemporary concepts to its established ethos. There’s additionally a renewed urge for food for difficult video games. Darkish Souls got here round in 2011 and redefined what one may take away from a online game. They are often enjoyable, positive. However they are often punishing, too. Quick ahead a decade, and we now have individuals enjoying Elden Ring with a steering wheel. Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown, Ubisoft’s newest Metroidvania action-adventure platformer, assimilates parts from these video games and subgenres to tread acquainted floor, however it does so in its personal distinctive methods.

Save factors from Darkish souls, air dashes and double jumps from Hole Knight and complicated and interconnected Biome-based degree design from Lifeless Cells; The Misplaced Crown’s DNA splices collectively strands from video games which have come earlier than. There is a little bit of Celeste in there and a few of Hades, too. However the closing result’s a sport that can also be distinctly Prince of Persia. From its Persian setting and its experiments with the passage of time to its high-wire platforming puzzles and its throwback twin swords, The Misplaced Crown could be very a lot a Frankenstein monster unto itself, even when its physique elements should not its personal.

It’s also ridiculously enjoyable and surprisingly difficult. What The Misplaced Crown lacks in narrative depth and contextualisation, it makes up for within the pure dynamism of its motion fight and the sheer number of its platforming and traversal programs. It’s also not a lean package deal by any means. Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown can’t be breezed by way of in a dozen or so hours, particularly on its more durable problem settings. Simply the primary missions — there are 9 of them — may take about 18-20 hours. And in the event you go for a wholesome quantity of aspect quests, optionally available boss fights and platforming challenges, and treasures and trinkets, the sport can simply go double the space. The Misplaced Crown, nonetheless, does not actually justify that size, at the least not at all times. Its long-winded center part weighs the entire sport down, nearly to a halt. An unbalanced problem curve and tedious quest construction flip the sport’s later sections right into a barely rewarding grind. Nevertheless it throws sufficient new methods at you to maintain you on the prince’s path.

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The Misplaced Crown begins off in medias res, proper in the midst of a Kushan invasion of the Persian empire. You are dropped into the footwear of Sargon, a member of the Immortals, an elite group of warriors who should not actually Immortals however possess distinctive talents that may assist flip the tide on the battlefield. The Immortals repel the Kushans, with Sargon taking out the beefy common of the invading military. This part serves as a story introduction and a fast tutorial for the sport’s fundamentals. The group then return to their kingdom as heroes and are feted by Queen Thomyris and Prince Ghassan. However as Sargon and his companions are drowning in revelry, his mentor, Basic Anahita, kidnaps the prince and escapes in the course of the ensuing chaos. Betrayed and confused by Anahita’s actions, Sargon pursues her and the prince to the legendary Mount Qaf along with his fellow Immortals in tow. That is the place the sport de facto begins, unfolding throughout the maze of the monolithic mountain.

Mount Qaf, borrowed from the favored Center Japanese delusion, is actually the star of the present in The Misplaced Crown. From its eerie Catacombs and its elusive Sacred Archives to the tough Temple of Data and the wild Hyrcanian Forest, Qaf-Kuh is a marvel. The labyrinthine mountain spreads throughout a wide range of biomes, every with its personal distinctive setting and inhabitants. In true Metroidvania fashion, the biomes work as interconnected items of a sprawling jigsaw puzzle. As you retain chipping away on the branching pathways, the map expands and bends and twists to disclose beforehand undiscovered connections between two totally different and distant areas — a few of them solely unlocked with freshly gained talents. Every biome additionally has its personal story, a smaller act enjoying out within the bigger narrative of the mountain. The biomes thus grow to be distinct devices within the orchestra of Mount Qaf, every strumming and singing its story. These tales and prophecies are slowly revealed over time as you uncover lore tablets and inscriptions scattered throughout the entire map.

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The labyrinthine Mount Qaf and its many secrets and techniques are the highlights of Prince of Persia
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

The biomes match collectively environmentally, too, filling out the mountain in plausible methods. You discover the Pit of Everlasting Sands deep into the depths of Mount Qaf and the Tower of Silence at its icy summit, with the busier Higher and Decrease cities sandwiched within the center. Irrespective of the place you’re within the maze, you at all times have a way of your location. Do not get me fallacious, it’s straightforward to get misplaced within the winding methods of the mountain, however The Misplaced Crown gives you with helpful instruments that assist jog your reminiscence. You’ll be able to lay down persistent map markers from an accessible record of icons that you could choose, every representing a distinct curiosity — identical to in Elden Ring. And in what is maybe among the finest exploration-related High quality of Life options in current video games, you may as well shortly faucet the Down button on the D-pad (when enjoying with a controller) to take a snapshot of your present location. These snapshots, restricted in quantity, aid you later keep in mind sections of the map you visited earlier however maybe weren’t able to traverse on the time. Then there’s Fariba, a younger girl Sargon meets in Qaf, who in some way is aware of all of the secrets and techniques of the mountain. She offers you map guides and mission hints in change for crystals and a few pleasant and free recommendation that can assist you alongside the way in which.

Mount Qaf additionally doesn’t observe the straight arrow of time. It’s a mysterious prism the place time bends and refracts and folds onto itself as a number of pasts, presents, and futures soften into each other. As you journey by way of the mountain, you may discover different Sargons from a previous or a future you haven’t but lived. You will meet characters for the primary time, however they’re going to recognise you immediately. And, you may spend just a few hours exploring one area of the mountain, however just a few many years could have flown by in one other. Sargon is at all times chasing fleeting recollections and mysteries, barely holding on to a grain because the sands of time carve their very own approach.

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Sargon’s eyes are set on his mission, however he barely has time to look inside
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

This lends to the narrative of The Misplaced Crown, too, as Sargon struggles to reverse the order of issues and save Prince Ghassan. In his quest, he additionally meets the individuals of Mount Qaf. Fariba maybe is aware of her approach across the mysterious mountain higher than anybody, inexplicably popping up in treacherous reaches of Qaf. There’s Kaheva, an precise immortal who serves because the blacksmith of the Gods, crafting weapons and amulet upgrades for Sargon. Qaf can also be residence to scrappers, monsters, retailers and mages, peddling their wares, sorrows and aspect quests. The mountain’s residents assist Sargon in his seek for Ghassan, providing clues and luxury as he scrabbles his approach ahead. The Misplaced Crown’s story, nonetheless, wastes the potential of its setting, shying away from the shenanigans of time. And even when it does throw just a few surprises alongside the way in which, the narrative by no means actually elevates the motion. The characters, too, don’t really feel fleshed out. Even Sargon is not too removed from a generic motion hero, marching to his mission with out a lot introspection. The supporting solid, his fellow Immortals, doesn’t go away an enduring impression both, particularly since they solely present up periodically to maneuver the plot alongside.

The Misplaced Crown’s glory lies in its frenetic, flashy fight and its precision platforming. Sargon isn’t any slouch when he arrives at Mount Qaf, armed along with his twin swords, Qays and Layla, and a wide range of acrobatic films. The Immortal can leap, slide and dodge his approach out of hassle, and also you quickly broaden your repertoire, unlocking a bow that additionally acts as a chakram for ranged assaults and an air sprint for traversal. Over time, the sport retains including particular motion talents to your arsenal that aid you navigate the labyrinth, grant entry to beforehand unreachable areas, and in addition help in fight — however I am not going to spoil them right here. It is a lot cooler whenever you uncover them by yourself. These particular powers present up at pivotal moments within the story within the type of the misplaced magical feathers of Simurgh, a mythological guardian of time and future, who sits atop Qaf.

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The Misplaced Crown’s fight is a frenetic, flashy dance together with your enemy
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft

Let’s get to the fight first: It is simply enjoyable. It is easy sufficient to get into shortly however accommodates sufficient complexities to maintain you hooked over the course of the sport. You could have your customary mild assaults combos that finish with a high-damage flourish; you may launch lighter enemies within the air, leap up, and create devastating air assault combos; and you’ve got your Athra-powered assaults, each within the air and on the bottom, which channel a sacred energy flowing by way of Sargon to unleash a flash of pure vitality. These are complemented by Athra Surges, particular talents that may be triggered when your Athra gauge is full. You accumulate Athra by coping with assaults, parrying, and generally even absorbing incoming harm.

No melee motion sport is now full with out parrying (thanks, Sekiro), and in The Misplaced Crown, parrying is maybe the only most essential fight transfer you may pull in the midst of a struggle. Efficiently parrying an incoming assault not solely negates the harm however leaves the enemy open for follow-up assaults. And nothing fills up your Athra meter sooner than a parry. Pull off just a few of them in fast succession, and you would be raining down particular Surge assaults to dispatch your foes. The parry window is beneficiant right here, too, however tight sufficient to make you’re feeling good whenever you get the timing proper. All customary enemy assaults will be parried, besides the heavy/particular assaults that ship out a red-light indication. Generally, a yellow indicator will present up on an incoming enemy assault, and whenever you efficiently parry these, the sport cuts to a flashy scripted animation of a devastating counterattack that immediately kills common enemies and offers heavy harm to bosses.

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Sargon has a large repertoire of flicks, each acrobatic and offensive
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft

Talking of which, the boss fights in Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown throw up a various set of challenges your approach, demanding you utilize your full array of acquired talents. They usually additionally happen at a grander scale, pulling again the digicam and blowing up the fight area round you as you tackle gigantic legendary Gods and monsters. These begin off pretty tame, however the problem spikes up across the center of the sport as you juggle between your talents and enter particular strikes for incoming assaults. It turns into a sport of endurance as you parry, dodge and dance round boss assaults to search out little home windows of happening the offensive your self. When you’re decked out with all of Simurgh’s powers, although, you may actually go wild with combos. There’s seemingly no restrict to the issues you may obtain by chaining collectively totally different assaults and talents, however it can require a filthy degree of dexterity. Fortunately, regardless of throwing up a severe problem on the more durable problem settings, the sport does not take the “git gud or die making an attempt” route like lots of its FromSoftware inspirations.

The true problem spike arrives within the later platforming sections of the sport. Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown is extra of a platformer than it’s an action-adventure sport, and it takes its platforming maybe a bit too significantly. Exploration puzzles and platforming sections within the early elements of the sport arrive on a gentle studying curve, onboarding your new traversal talents at a good tempo. However after across the midway level, the sport throws excruciating prolonged platforming sections that require pin-point precision in your inputs — one fallacious tilt of the thumbstick, and also you begin over. It’s important to rigorously orchestrate a sequence of precarious jumps, dashes and wall hugs to achieve the following protected area and get just a little respiration room. I get pleasure from a troublesome problem as a lot as the following masochist, however among the later traversal puzzles received just a little too harrowing, even for my style. These late-game platforming sections stretch on and on with out reduction, and even a single twitchy, imprecise button or set off press would mess issues up.

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The Misplaced Crown’s boss fights are grand and serve up distinct challenges
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft

This holds very true of optionally available platforming sections, which grant further rewards. Those designed round Xerxes cash, a type of uncommon forex within the sport, are maybe essentially the most torturous. The cash act like strawberries from Celeste; you leap and sprint round intricate platforming playgrounds to achieve a coin, however you solely have it in your financial institution whenever you leap and sprint your approach again to protected land. The issue is that, in Celeste, the superb narrative lent itself to the grind, pushing you ahead whilst you saved repeatedly dying. Celeste’s titular mountain was a metaphor, representing your individual demons that you just wanted to tame. In The Misplaced Crown, nonetheless, the mountain turns into a really literal monolith, and the drive to maintain climbing has diminishing returns.

Let me be clear, although — Celeste’s later platforming sections had been way more intense than something you may discover within the new Prince of Persia. However every part within the indie darling from 2018 possessed a novel artistic identification. The puzzles received more durable in Celeste, positive, however they saved on innovating, bringing wondrous new concepts to acquainted mechanics. The Misplaced Crown, alternatively, escalates the problem of its platforming in very blunt methods, sucking the enjoyment out of the problem and crossing the boundary the place it goes from enjoyable to only plain annoying.

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Late-game platforming sections escalate the problem in blunt methods, stretching into tedium
Photograph Credit score: Ubisoft/ Screenshot – Manas Mitul

That is the place The Misplaced Crown begins stretching into tedium. Across the midway mark, when the platforming sections are hit by unbalanced problem spikes and fundamental missions begin sending you on wild-goose chases throughout faraway areas of the map, you begin feeling the load of the sport, and also you begin groaning on the identical puzzles that had been fulfilling firstly. The final exploration, nonetheless, stays rewarding as you uncover among the finest biomes on the map later within the sport. Wak-wak bushes, which act like Bonfires from Darkish Souls, and beneficiant quick journey factors — one for every biome — grow to be beacons of hope after grinding by way of lengthy and arduous sections of the map. This, nonetheless, doesn’t change my opinion that the builders may have trimmed the fats across the later sections of the sport. The Misplaced Crown would have been leaner and higher for it and wouldn’t have dragged its toes into the ultimate act.

Prince of Persia’s artwork fashion is not one thing that stands out both, taking the acquainted cues from video games like Overwatch and Fortnite. Whereas the environments themselves look full of life, even when they are not as detailed, the character fashions go away just a little to be desired. It isn’t unhealthy by any means, however its blocky aesthetics are nothing you have not seen earlier than. Quite the opposite, the sport’s music triumphs emphatically right here, with a mixture of Persian and Western devices underscoring the motion. Once more, it isn’t almost as memorable as Celeste, which options maybe one of many best online game soundtracks ever written, however it achieves extra than simply getting the job performed. Actually, it’s a tad unfair to match it to Celeste, however additionally it is telling in its personal approach that I preserve citing one of many best video games ever made whereas speaking about The Misplaced Crown, even whether it is to level out its failures.

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The Misplaced Crown fails the place Celeste succeeds: balancing the problem with the sheer surprise of its platforming sections
Photograph Credit score: Maddy Makes Video games

The Prince of Persia franchise has a storied historical past in gaming, transitioning from 2D to 3D and going by way of a number of reboots and resurrections because the first one got here out on the Apple II. The sequence’ hottest run got here within the mid-2000s with the Sands of Time saga, which set a brand new bar for 3D action-adventure platformers on the time. The Prince’s newest reincarnation, nonetheless, may be its most radical one. A 2.5D Metroidvania platformer is maybe proper up builders Ubisoft Montpellier’s alley, who’ve beforehand helmed the superb Rayman video games. And it would simply grow to be precisely what the Prince of Persia wanted. In a glut of third-person open-world action-adventure video games, The Misplaced Crown distinguishes itself by stepping into a completely totally different path and shining a brand new path for the way forward for the sequence.

It isn’t for everybody, and it’s not a simple sport to select up and casually run by way of. However for individuals who’ve performed Metroidvanias like Lifeless Cells and Hole Knight or intense platformers like Celese and Tremendous Meat Boy, The Misplaced Crown will supply extra than simply transferrable abilities. It may also be essentially the most accessible entry level into the style for brand spanking new gamers; the most recent Prince of Persia just isn’t as oppressive as a few of its inspirations. And whereas a few of its later platforming sections and mission design gradual the sport down, it by no means fully runs out of steam. The Misplaced Crown would possibly simply be the coronation the Prince deserved.


  • Wonderful world design
  • Quick and enjoyable fight
  • Difficult platforming
  • Participating boss fights
  • Wonderful music


  • Tedious later part
  • Unbalanced problem spikes
  • Uninspired artwork fashion
  • Prosaic story and characters

Score (out of 10): 8

Pricing begins at Rs. 2,499 for the Normal Version on Epic Video games Retailer for PC; Rs. 3,499 on PlayStation Retailer for PS5 and PS4, and Xbox Retailer for Xbox Sequence S/X and Xbox One; and $49.99 on Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Swap. 

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