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Prince of Persia is getting a Dead Cells-style roguelike next month

Key art of the Prince in The Rogue Prince of Persia.

The Prince of Persia series’ renaissance is continuing, and I couldn’t be happier.

In January, The Lost Crown rekindled this series’ fire after a long hiatus. Now, The Rogue Prince of Persia is continuing to fan those flames. It’s a somewhat out-of-character release for Ubisoft, as it’s a 2D platformer action-roguelike developed by an indie studio outside of the company, and it will initially release into early access. Though it’s an atypical release, it’s one to get excited about. After going hands-on with it prior to its announcement today, The Rogue Prince of Persia is already a blast.

Indie studio Evil Empire honed its action roguelike prowess working on content for Dead Cells and has applied that expertise to the Prince of Persia franchise while expanding upon it by creating more intricate movement options for players. The Rogue Prince of Persia is shaping up to be yet another solid case study as to why the revived series should stick around alongside other mainstay Ubisoft franchises like Assassin’s Creed. It gives me hope that Ubisoft will explore more off-kilter ideas like this with its other franchises.

Time for another run

In The Rogue Prince of Persia, players fight back against a Hun invasion. Every time the Prince dies, though, a magical bola revives him and sends him back in time to an Oasis where he can craft new weapons before setting out again to keep the fight going. This provides a strong backbone for the roguelike adventure, which will be instantly recognizable to fans of Dead Cells. With a limited amount of health and healing items, players must get as far as possible each run, jumping through traps and other obstacles, obtaining new loot, weapons, and sub-weapons to use along the way, and fighting any enemies that get in the Prince’s way.

There are many weapons to use, each with its own perks and unique abilities. I enjoyed using a royal saber and chakram combination the most so far. Medallions found in levels can also enhance the Prince’s abilities and tailor a run-specific playstyle further. My favorite run during my hands-on time saw the Prince wielding a bunch of poison-focused medallions. If I hit enemies from far enough away or got hit by them, a poison cloud that dealt damage over time would appear, and my Prince would almost always come out on top in that war of poison attrition.

Wallrunning during a boss fight in The Rogue Prince of Persia

Enhancing that core weapon and combat loop are movement options that feel unique to The Rogue Prince of Persia. There’s a satisfying dodge, but it’s also possible to kick enemies into traps, each other, or off ledges. I could stomp down on them from above, too, and make a quick getaway by running on walls, including ones that look like they are in the background. Being able to run on what’s essentially the background gives this 2D platformer’s world a greater feeling of depth and spotlights its colorful environments.

The Rogue Prince of Persia’s art style evokes games like OlliOlli World and Chants of Sennaar rather than The Lost Crown and Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that ended up being a divisive part of the game for some. I really like the look and feel of The Rogue Prince of Persia, as it enables some creative enemy design and fantastic animations that wouldn’t have worked as well in a more realistic-looking game. It feels like a back-to-basics look for the series, too, which has its roots in 2D games with impressive animation.

Outside of the art style, nothing I’ve said about The Rogue Prince of Persia feels too outlandish in the realm of action-platformer roguelites. I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this case, though, as it’s coming right from one of the studios that cemented Dead Cells as an all-time great in that exact space. From my time with The Rogue Prince of Persia, it’s already clear that Evil Empire is already showing great skill in adapting what worked so well about that indie game into a title connected to a storied franchise. I think Ubisoft could use more games like this.

Combat in The Rogue Prince of Persia.

The Rogue Prince of Persia doesn’t feel like it’s following Ubisoft’s design clichés in any noticeable ways, and the developer is actively seeking feedback on its design from players during its early access phase. Most importantly, I’m glad Ubisoft is willing to get the help of a passionate studio outside of the company to keep one of its best franchises in the gaming zeitgeist. If Ubisoft isn’t going to actively support dormant franchises like Rayman, Driver, Red Steel, or Might & Magic, then I’d love to see more indie studios get a crack at revitalizing those major IPs. Prince of Persia is finally getting its renaissance; what’s next?

The Rogue Prince of Persia enters early access on Steam on May 14.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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