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Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown is an element metroidvania, half soulslike, and all enjoyable

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Days into 2024 and we’ve already acquired a robust contender for Sport of the 12 months. Sure, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is that good. I need to get again to enjoying as rapidly as potential so I’ll hold this temporary.

(Editor’s notice: She doesn’t hold this temporary.)

The Misplaced Crown is a 2D sidescrolling metroidvania. You play as Sargon, a member of the Persian military’s elite Immortals squad. After the prince is kidnapped, Sargon and the Immortals journey to Mount Qaf to rescue him. Throughout the journey, Sargon will purchase an arsenal of instruments, weapons, and trinkets that may assist him overcome the perils of navigating the mysterious (and large) mountain.

That is solely a fraction of the map. It’s large.

This may occasionally sound a bit counterintuitive, however the attention-grabbing factor about The Misplaced Crown is that, mechanically, it doesn’t do something notably new. The powers Sargon acquires to unravel the varied platforming puzzles are all stuff you’ve most likely seen elsewhere. There’s an air sprint, a bow and arrow (that transforms right into a boomerang-type weapon that ricochets off surfaces), a dimension-shifting energy that reveals incorporeal platforms, and an imprinting energy that enables Sargon to primarily “save” his spot in a location then teleport again to it.

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I’m not performed with the sport simply but so this isn’t a complete record of powers, however Ubisoft isn’t reinventing the platformer wheel right here. What it has performed is craft a recreation that makes utilizing each one among these customary powers ridiculously enjoyable. Shout out to the extent designers as a result of the very best a part of The Misplaced Crown is determining the complicated waltz of buttons I have to press to get from level A to level B, executing that waltz, then basking in my godlike prowess. Sargon’s motion is fluid and the cooldown on powers is permissive, so even when puzzles aren’t simple (and ho-boy they’re not), I don’t really feel pissed off having to repeat a sequence till I get it proper.

Certainly one of my favourite puzzles comes a bit later within the recreation the place you’re locked in a room and the one approach out is to make use of ghost doubles of Sargon to gather an out-of-reach key merchandise. The ghosts solely have a restricted period of time to finish one half of a bigger puzzle, like activating a lever that may open a door that may let one other ghost stroll by way of. Throughout three ghost doubles I had 12 seconds to fly down a shaft, make a double, stand on a stress plate, double bounce up a distinct shaft, activate a lever, teleport to my double’s spot, then wall-jump my method to the aim. I hate repetition, it’s probably the most irritating half about enjoying troublesome video games, however I used to be so locked in, like a sax participant in the midst of a Charlie Parker solo, that I didn’t thoughts that it took upward of 40 tries to not solely determine the puzzle’s resolution however to then execute it.

Among the most technically intensive platforming includes phasing out and in of time to activate incorporeal platforms whereas dashing over spiked pits.
Picture: Ubisoft

Fight is equally troublesome and rewarding. As you progress, every part from common enemy fights to boss encounters require you to make use of each energy Sargon has to return by way of unscathed. Identical to the platforming puzzles, you’re memorizing assault patterns, reaching into your expansive arsenal for the suitable device, then executing a fancy dance towards a boss that may punish the hell out of you for being too grasping with injury. All through the sport, Sargon will earn new fight talents like a therapeutic wave or a strong thrust however whereas a few of them are helpful for very particular encounters, I discovered that I used to be in a position to ignore each new potential past the primary two. They simply didn’t appear consequential or diversified sufficient past “hit more durable than regular” to warrant use.

Boss remind me of combating enemies in soulslike video games the place your persistence and studying of patterns is in the end rewarded.
Picture: Ubisof

Due to the complexity of puzzles and boss fights, but the relative ease of utilizing your instruments and weapons to beat these obstacles, The Misplaced Crown jogs my memory extra of a soulslike than a metroidvania. What’s requested of you, whether or not in a battle or a puzzle, by no means feels unfair or tedious, however extra like a progressive evaluation of your progress. It felt like the sport was saying “Okay, you’ve had your air sprint potential for some time now, let’s see how successfully you should use it.” My favourite factor in video video games is when gameplay reinforces narrative, and when you mix this concept that the sport is testing your mastery of abilities with the precise narrative of Sargon being a more recent, youthful member of the Immortals desirous to show himself, then The Misplaced Crown turns into a recreation by which you as a participant really feel such as you’re rising together with Sargon.

Past buttery clean platforming and complex fight, probably the most progressive facet of the sport is the map. Sure, the map. To begin with, it’s large as hell. There are such a lot of locations to go and secrets and techniques to uncover that even once you’re not heading towards the subsequent story aim, wherever you find yourself you’re getting one thing — both forex to purchase hints or improve supplies or necklace charms that improve Sargon’s talents. On prime of that, every space has a definite theme that influences what sort of platform shenanigans you may count on. There’s a sand space that has waterfalls of sand push you thru tight corridors lined with insta-death spikes and within the cursed library part, you’ll must make use of your bow-boomerang to ring bells that’ll reveal hidden platforms.

Metroidvanias as a style can get tedious as hell when you don’t know the place to go subsequent with the powers you may have. In The Misplaced Crown, Ubisoft has applied a signpost system whereby you may take screenshots of the place you might be, that are then pinned to their location on the sport’s map. So each time you get a brand new energy, you may revisit these screenshots to see in case your new toy unlocks a brand new space. I really like these navigation techniques, it actually exhibits that Ubisoft is respecting gamers’ time.

After final 12 months’s glut of expansive, time-consuming, however hella enjoyable blockbusters, I needed one thing smaller and easier to spend my time on. With The Misplaced Crown, Ubisoft has taken a technically and mechanically simplistic method — 2D sidescrolling metroidvania — and reinvented it into one thing extraordinary each narratively and in gameplay.

Prince of Persia: The Misplaced Crown launches on Nintendo Change, Xbox, PlayStation, and PC on January fifteenth.

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