Fixed within the sky above the doorway to Mount Qaf is a titanic statue frozen within the second of its destruction; the items of a granite head shattered into chunks grasp suspended in mid-fall. Within the fort’s tangle of trap-laden corridors, you will discover characters who haven’t aged a day in 100 years, whereas others who arrived hours earlier than you might have already died of outdated age. Time doesn’t obey regular guidelines throughout the cursed halls of the fortress, and you’ll do properly to be taught that lesson quick if you wish to full Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown.

These oddities of time are acceptable for a sport that reimagines and combines a number of generations of a collection that dates again to 1989. Developer Jordan Mechner’s unique Prince of Persia was a 2D platformer wherein you navigated a fort stuffed with false flooring, guillotines, and sword-wielding guards to battle with the Grand Vizier. In the meantime, in developer Ubisoft’s palms, later reimaginings of the collection noticed the titular hero achieve the power to regulate time, pausing and reversing it to unravel puzzles and dodge traps in a 3D world. In The Misplaced Crown, Ubisoft returns to the sooner video games’ side-on perspective whereas folding within the energy over time of the later titles to create a sprawling, labyrinthine world affected by enemies and traps to beat.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown review
Labyrinthine … Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown. {Photograph}: Ubisoft

You play Sargon, one in every of Persia’s legendary warrior defenders, in his pursuit of Prince Ghassan and people who took him. You chase the group to Mount Qaf, the place the abductors hope to drive the prince to abdicate, and you need to attain him earlier than they do. Sargon can soar over pits, swing from pole to pole, and leap between the partitions of tight shafts to ascend the degrees of Qaf, however even this athleticism solely permits you to entry a small portion of the fortress: you’ll typically face gaps too giant to leap, ledges too excessive to know or doorways with locks too distant to strike along with your swords. Nevertheless, as you uncover the mountain’s secrets and techniques and defeat its many bosses, you discover ways to sprint by way of the air, double soar, and anchor your self to some extent in house to which you’ll teleport again. By combining these powers, you’ll be able to pull off difficult mid-air acrobatics and open up complete new districts of Qaf to discover.

The Misplaced Crown is Prince of Persia reforged as Metroidvania, and the collection feels at residence in that style of ever-widening worlds. You’ll return and return and return to the identical areas of the map, discovering new secrets and techniques in outdated rooms due to the powers you might have acquired. Chests that have been out of attain earlier than fall inside your grasp, locked doorways now swing open earlier than you, and executives that have been too quick or too sturdy at the moment are weak to your strikes.

That each one mentioned, The Misplaced Crown’s issue curve is extreme, with later platforming sections and executives demanding you memorise punishing assault patterns and develop reflexes to drag off difficult combos of jumps, dodges, and parries. Butting into one in every of these talent partitions is a irritating expertise, notably in a sport the place the enjoyment comes from stringing collectively uninterrupted acrobatics and assault combos.

In moments the place you encounter a irritating blocker, nonetheless, you’ll be able to typically discover different components of Qaf. While you discover a new energy, it normally opens alternatives everywhere in the mountain, not simply in a single space. You may also improve Sargon’s weapons to be extra highly effective, purchase upgrades to his well being potions, or change his configuration of amulets. These unlockable objects allow you to increase your hero’s skills, rising his power when he has low well being, as an illustration, or decreasing how a lot harm he takes from poison assaults. When you discover a boss you’ll be able to’t defeat, it’s reassuring to know you may make the combat simpler by swapping out a number of the amulets you are taking into battle.

Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown isn’t a sequel or a prequel to any of the opposite video games, it’s a new journey for the collection, and its first step is a assured leap. It’s not solely that essentially the most notable parts of the collection’ completely different iterations – its setting, traps, time powers, and fight – all discover a pure residence on this new form, it’s that it performs like among the finest video games in its newly chosen style, pretty much as good as a sport as Metroid Dread or Hole Knight, not an imitation of them. It’s been 13 years for the reason that final wholly new Prince of Persia sport; if that is its new course, it’s thrilling to see the place it would land.

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Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown is launched on PC, PS4/5, Change and Xbox platforms on 18 January, £50

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