The Rogue Prince of Persia Early Access Review

The Rogue Prince of Persia just released into Early Access, and already feels like a promising and exciting title.
The Rogue Prince Of Persia Featured

The Rogue Prince of Persia is the appropriately named Prince of Persia roguelike, which was developed by Evil Empire and published by Ubisoft. It’s a refreshing spin on the series and the first entry in the franchise I’ve heard of in a while (I totally missed that there was another separate Prince of Persia release this year). The Rogue Prince of Persia is already showing signs of being a fun and unique game in its Early Access state.

The Rogue Prince of Persia follows our titular prince as he struggles against an invading army of Huns, who take on a twisted, shamanistic-magic-monster shape that is thematically interesting and separated from its historical precedent. The entire game takes on a historical-but-not fantasy-magic vibe, as is familiar for the series, but feels especially pronounced and at home in this title.

Being a roguelike, the main gameplay loop involves running through a series of procedurally generated levels, fighting to get as far as you can, inevitably dying (a lot, mind you), and returning to the hub world, where you purchase upgrades to make the runs a little easier. Narratively, The Rogue Prince of Persia explains these resets and runs as the Prince’s trusty bola, a magical artifact that rewinds time whenever he faces death. Honestly, it’s one of the better explanations for the roguelike loop I’ve seen, and it’s almost like this franchise was made for it.

The Rogue Prince Of Persia Death
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The first thing that stands out to me about The Rogue Prince of Persia is just how artistically expressive and creative the game feels.

From the game’s hand-drawn art style, which feels like something between a 90’s Disney cartoon and painted murals from antiquity, to the game’s soundtrack, which is like ancient Iranian soundscapes remixed into techno/dubstep beats, The Rogue Prince of Persia is highly expressive in its presentation and superbly unique. It feels like a passionate Indie project that’s been in the making for years. While I don’t know much about developer Evil Empire, I can say for sure it’s the last thing I expected from Ubisoft in the year 2024, especially with the Prince of Persia property.

Typically, I’m not a fan of sidescrolling platforming in games. It just doesn’t click with me. However, The Rogue Prince of Persia manages to implement it in a way that really hooks my attention; I think this is due in large part to the ability to range along and up walls. When paired with the game’s double jumping, wall vaulting, and air dashing, The Rogue Prince of Persia gives you plenty of movement options to not only navigate the level freely but to do it with speed and style, making navigating levels feel quick and cool.

This feeling is absolutely aided by the aforementioned sicknasty soundtrack, which makes me hyped to cut down or vault over the demon-soldiers in my path.

The Rogue Prince Of Persia Zagros
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The combat is as smooth and exciting as the platforming mechanics are, with a host of weapons that all dish out damage swiftly and in unique attack patterns. The Rogue Prince of Persia throws in a few more mechanics than most side-scrolling titles, making combat a mix of kicking foes, vaulting over, using light and special attacks, ranged tolls, and movement-based AOE attacks. It’s exciting, fast, and utterly satisfying when you kill a foe and see a bunch of coins fall out of them and swiftly add to your bank.

I found the game’s use of enemies and traps really clever, especially for procedurally generated levels. Foes will take over ledges, striking at you when you attempt to jump, stand below with spears (and do much the same thing,) or control the ground with AOE attacks and combos with other enemy types. Spike traps will await at the end of pitfalls or slides but are never placed without a way to avoid them if you’re quick and clever. The game will often see you taking great leaps to areas off-screen, but you will never do the cheap thing and throw a hard-to-avoid obstacle below you where the camera can’t see it.

The Rogue Prince Of Persia Boss
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

I found that boss fights can feel a little unnecessarily difficult to learn. This is due almost entirely to the game’s insistence on not allowing you to use your dodge mechanic in these encounters. When facing a boss, your first instinct when dodging attacks would be to use the same vault/dash mechanic you use in regular encounters. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work, and the game wants you to use your platforming abilities to outmaneuver attacks. It’s fair, but it simply goes against my instincts as a player, and since death means restarting your run, it can be hard to retrain your brain around them.

The roguelike powerups come in the form of amulets you pick up throughout levels. The game uses this interesting powerup system for said amulets, where placing an amulet in a slot (of which you have four) will powerup the adjacent amulet to the right of the slot. I really liked this system, as it adds a sort of inventory management element to the game, where you have to choose to toss some amulets to powerup more valuable ones. However, I found that a lot of the abilities granted by these amulets weren’t incredibly interesting; I like my powerups to feel explosive and impactful, and while effects like resurrection and throwing a slowing resin on the floor were certainly impactful, none of them really gave the sense of OOMPH I would’ve liked to see.

The Rogue Prince Of Persia Huns
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

If there’s anything I would like to see in the final release version of The Rogue Prince of Persia, it’s this: More weapon variety (at launch, there are only a handful, though they feel impactful and unique.) More powerups with more exciting effects, maybe a slight nerf to boss battles, and even more dialogue and story moments to experience throughout the game.

That being said, The Rogue Prince of Persia is already on pretty solid ground in its current Early Access state and is definitely worth checking out, even if you’re skeptical about pre-release titles in general.

Pros:

  • Excellent art, soundtrack, and overall style
  • Exciting and fast-paced platforming with super-satisfying combat

Cons:

  • The learning curve on bosses can be difficult
  • Not a lot of unlockable weapons, though the current handful has a lot of variety
  • Powerups are impactful, if a bit unexciting
Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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