A man nicknamed Prince is in search of his missing donkey in the middle of a dessert. He winds up falling into a hidden magical kingdom, where he finds a magical woman named Elika on the run from a couple soldiers. He ends up saving her, only to find that it was her father that was chasing her and somehow that leads to the seal on the ancient god of darkness, Ahriman, being broken. Hence, Prince and Elika, who has magical powers from the god of light Ormazd, must heal what are called Fertile Grounds all over the kingdom in order to reseal him before he fully escapes. However, even with only part of his power released, he is able to cast a shadow over the kingdom through releasing The Corrupted, his four generals, The Hunter, The Alchemist, The Concubine, and The Warrior, who had sold their souls to him in exchange for being granted a certain wish. Hence Prince and Elika journey across the abandoned kingdom, defeating evil and healing the land.
Prince of Persia is very different from the Sands of Time trilogy. It still has some central themes of platforming, combat, and a culture that resembles Persia, but beyond that not much is the same.
In terms of game play first off when it comes to the platforming, it’s very simple and easier than in the previous series, to the point it’s lacking the fluidity and responsiveness that made the other entries so great. The most difficult aspect really is centered around the new mechanic of Elika helping you jump further, though it can be hard to judge whether its needed at points simply leading to you falling. There are also no game overs however, as no matter what happens Elika simply saves you and puts you back to where you were before you started the platforming sequence, which is meant to replace the time rewind mechanic. However, I much prefer the time mechanic, as that was essentially meant to be used to fix mistakes wherever you make them, but would still somewhat punish you for them as they used up sand. This game however, encourages you to not really care much for the smaller sequences as you can just redo them however many times you want, and doesn’t help at all for the longer sequences as you always have to start the sequence over from the beginning, which is actually kind of annoying with the finicky controls, especially for the parts involving plates. These parts are essentially mini games where Prince auto-runs or flies and you have to guide him so that he doesn’t hit anything, but they aren’t done very well and it’s not clear what he needs to be avoiding, and some of these sequences can get pretty long only to have to start over from the beginning if you make a slight mistake. These are just as bad as the chariot sequences in Two Thrones, but a lot worse actually as there are far more of them. In terms of combat, they actually made a worst battle system than the Sands of Time trilogy somehow. The combo system is kind of cool, but getting to them is rather annoying, involving too many QTEs and just waiting. Furthermore, every enemy is pretty much the same, except for the Warrior who’s kind of different in that he essentially involves having to push him off a ledge, but that’s really the best way to deal with everyone so he’s not really any different either. To elaborate, in addition to enemies that are all exactly the same, there are four main bosses, the corrupted, that you each fight 6 times, so you would expect that to be annoying enough. But even beyond that there isn’t much different about the different bosses beyond the difference with the warrior I previously mentioned. It gets super old fighting them incredibly quickly because its incredibly repetitive. Then when you reach the epilogue, you finally get a new boss, which is literally an old boss that can transform into another old boss and requires killing twice very quickly. The puzzles I liked more than any in the Sands of Time trilogy, as there was more thought involved than just moving things until they worked, so that’s an area that’s definitely better. Overall though, the game play was definitely worse and barely passable.
In terms of story it moves very slowly for the vast majority of the game, just journeying around fighting the corrupted and healing Fertile Grounds. However, there’s a tremendous amount of character and world building that occurs here which makes this far from dull and makes it quite good. The world is definitely fleshed out a great deal more than it is in the Sands of Time Trilogy and is hence more interesting. I would also have to say I like Elika better than any of the side characters in the SoTT, and I like Prince just as much as the non-angsty Prince in SoTT. Furthermore, their chemistry together is much better than anything in the previous series, and is the greatest aspect of the game really. The villains too are better fleshed out and more interesting as well. The story picks up more as it reaches its conclusion. It actually makes a great point about how the journey is what’s important, and not the ending as it ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger that reverses essentially the entire game, and is somewhat unsatisfying but good in that that being the ending would truly be unexpected. However, with the Epilogue, we get rid of a lot of the mystery, severely damage the Prince and Elika’s relationship, and leave on a completely unsatisfying cliffhanger that’ll never get a sequel, taking a passable ending and making it into a train-wreck that retroactively does a tremendous amount of damage to the story.
The art style and sound track are also very highly regarded. It certainly does look good and has certainly aged a lot better than the SoTT, in part due to how colorful everything. The design of the world itself is also a lot more varied and interesting. The soundtrack too is very fitting with a good amount of variety, and here I would have to give it a point of clear superiority.
A game that looks and sound pretty nice with fantastic characters, but with mediocre game play and a train wreck cliffhanger of an ending.