Windows Central Verdict
It's not a direct follow-up to the last Prince of Persia games release, but The Lost Crown is a decidedly fun, challenging, and interesting Metroidvania 2D platformer. There are minor flaws with the story and controls, but overall this is genuinely a great game that you shouldn't immediately write off.
Unique art design and great level design in a stunning, diverse world
Platforming and combat are varied, precise, and challenging
Tons of interesting abilities to unlock and secrets to discover
An intriguing story set in a fully realized universe
Issue with directional controls can make some challenging sections frustrating
Some story beats don't land
Character animations during dialogue are lacking
Minor visual and audio glitches
Why you can trust Windows Central
Let me start by addressing the skeptical among you. Ubisoft has struggled to release consistently fun, unique, and high-quality games the last few years, resulting in reduced confidence in the massive publisher. When Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown was announced as a side-scrolling platformer rather than a third-person action-adventure game like the last Prince of Persia game released back in 2010, opinions were not swayed in the slightest.
I'm here to tell you that Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game. It feels awesome to play, the world is interesting to explore and pleasing to look at, the story is actually compelling, and it's challenging while still being fun. It's not perfect, which I'll get into, but The Lost Crown is a definitive win for Ubisoft and an excellent return of the long-dormant Prince of Persia franchise. The Lost Crown is here to kick off 2024 with a bang, and I think a lot of players are going to have a blast.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Ubisoft. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
What is Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown?
• Price: $49.99 at Amazon (Xbox)
• Release date: Jan. 18, 2024
• Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
• Publisher: Ubisoft
• Genre: Action-adventure, 2D platformer
• Players: Single-player
• Install size: ~24.7GB
• Playtime: 25+ hours
• Platforms: Xbox, Windows PC, PlayStation, Switch
• Xbox Game Pass: No
• Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is the first major Prince of Persia game in nearly 14 years, following The Forgotten Sands released in May 2010. The Lost Crown isn't a follow-up to The Forgotten Sands or even a franchise reboot, however — It tells an all-new story in the Prince of Persia universe with an all-new protagonist. It also returns to the true roots of Prince of Persia, shirking the third-person action-adventure gameplay of the last Prince of Persia games in favor of 2D side-scrolling platforming.
The result is a precise and challenging Metroidvania-style platformer, which has players navigate a diverse and hostile world as Sargon, a warrior of the legendary Persian Immortals, on a quest to save the Royal Prince. The Lost Crown features a wide array of abilities that bend time and space, a multi-biome world filled with secrets, and a proper single-player campaign with unique characters and plenty of twists and turns. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown releases on Jan. 18, 2024 for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, PlayStation 5|4, and Nintendo Switch for $49.99 at Amazon for the Standard Edition (there's also a Deluxe Edition that adds a cosmetic skin and a helpful secret-searching bird for $10 more).
After over 13 years, it's finally time to return to Persia — this time in the shoes of Sargon. Break time and space in your quest to save your prince and friend, and tackle the endless challenges and dangers of the cursed Mount Qaf. It's not a perfect game, but it's still a lot of fun.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — Visuals and performance
Visuals & performance highlights
- Performance is excellent, running at up to 4K and 120 FPS (simultaneously) on Xbox Series X.
- Visuals are also honestly fantastic, with a unique art design, smooth animations, and great audio design all contributing to one good looking game.
- I did encounter various visual and audio glitches, though, as well as one bug requiring a full game restart.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is very far from a photorealistic game, and it's also not artsy enough to win any awards on that front. I still really enjoy the look and feel of this game, though. The art design melds perfectly with the impeccable world and character designs (more on that later), and pairs fantastically with the crisp audio effects, moving soundtrack, and fluid animations. There are also certain animations and cinematics that frankly look stunning.
Performance is also excellent. This is one of the few games that runs at 4K and 120 FPS on Xbox Series X, with equally great performance on all other platforms. The game was always perfectly smooth and responsive, which is important for such a precise and challenging platformer. It wasn't flawless, though, as I noticed several gaps in walls and other environment pieces peeking straight through the world, and audio from characters disappeared for up to 30 seconds at a time during some cinematics. I also encountered a bug that saw everything but interactive elements and Sargon completely disappear, requiring a full game restart to fix (reloading my save wasn't enough, strangely).
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — Gameplay and platforming
- Gameplay mostly centers around two things, combat and platforming, with some puzzles thrown in as well.
- Overall, The Lost Crown feels wonderful to play, with tight controls, diverse environments and enemies, and a high ceiling for challenge.
- Platforming doesn't quite reach the heights of the best in the genre, though, especially because of a frustrating issue with some directional controls.
The Lost Crown is 2D platformer / action-adventure / Metroidvania game. That essentially means you'll be doing a lot of jumping, a lot of fighting, and a lot of exploring. The gameplay loop is more than diverse enough to keep you interested for dozens of hours, though, with The Lost Crown regularly introducing brand-new mechanics and abilities. Jump through space, rewind time, grapple onto opponents, enter new dimensions or create pocket dimensions — Yeah, that's all possible, and much of it is regularly and cleverly used in both combat and platforming.
The controls feel intuitive and are quite precise, although they don't quite approach the golden standard set by the very best in the genre like Hollow Knight and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It's enough to make overcoming the varied and frequent obstacles in your way feel fun and addictive, though, with The Lost Crown absolutely packed with enemies, complex platforming sections, and plenty of optional challenges to really test your skills.
It's almost perfect, except I occasionally encountered an issue with two abilities (double jump and air dash) that heavily rely on direction randomly throwing me in the exact opposite direction I wanted. This happened with three different controllers and regardless of my starting direction, but I wasn't able to consistently replicate it. This made some of the more challenging platforming sections needlessly frustrating, as even when the skill was there, I still had to rely a little on sheer chance.
Here are some more images of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown to sate your hunger:
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — World and level design
- Most of the game takes place on Mount Qaf, particularly in the ruins of an ancient city trapped under a curse.
- While overall level design isn't quite as refined as the best in the genre, it's still very good, with lots of secrets, enjoyable platforming, and a plethora of distinct biomes.
- Each biome feels unique and fully realized, helping build a lovely world with fantastic art, architecture, and character.
Again, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown can't quite stand at the same level as the very best platformers in the Metroidvania genre when it comes to level design, but it is a far cry from being mediocre. Most of the game takes place on Mount Qaf, and there is more than enough diversity here to keep things interesting for dozens of hours of exploration. There are countless secrets to discover across a myriad of distinct biomes, each with its own character that helps flesh out this world.
From the immaculate sculpted stone of ancient places and the gloomy interior of vast libraries to the overgrown wilderness of a wild jungle and even the frozen waves of a stormy sea, there is so much to see in The Lost Crown. The level design is clever, too, carefully locking away areas and challenges until you have certain abilities, and making it difficult to cheese your way through places. You're encouraged to return to areas regularly, and it never felt tedious or exhausting thanks to the steady introduction of new traversal abilities and a healthy supply of checkpoints and fast travel points.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — Story and characters
- You play as Sargon, working with your fellow Immortals (a group of legendary warriors) to save the Persian Prince, Ghassan, after he is kidnapped.
- Ghassan is taken to Mount Qaf, the ancestral home of Persian royalty, but the city is embroiled in a curse that breaks time.
- The story is interesting with many twists and turns, characters are fleshed out and offer great performances, and Sargon is a great main character... But not every story beat lands.
I was surprised by how engrossing the narrative of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is. At first, it seems like a straightforward "go save this person from the mentor that suddenly betrayed you" tale, but matters are swiftly turned on their head when you discover that Mount Qaf is trapped under a mysterious curse that breaks time. The Immortals, a group of seven warriors, builds the foundation for an eclectic cast of interesting characters you meet throughout The Lost Crown, with each embracing a unique personality delivered by pretty great voice performances.
It's a fun story with solid writing, driven forward by frequent surprises and twists, all culminating in an epic and cinematic ending. I largely enjoyed it, but I did feel that several story beats didn't land. There were twists that fell flat, character development moments that lacked impact, and unresolved ends hastily swept under the rug. It's enough that The Lost Crown won't be winning any narrative awards, but it still captures your attention. Most dialogue with characters adopts a visual novel-style design, though, which is fine on its own except the characters are barely animated. I wish a little more work had been done here to make these sections feel more dynamic than simply hearing people speak and reading a transcript.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — Accessibility and approachability
- At first glance, The Lost Crown does not appear particularly approachable thanks to its focus on challenging combat and platforming.
- However, there are various accessibility options to help players with exploration, combat, and platforming.
- Overall accessibility settings aren't numerous, but the basics for visual, audible, and physical needs are covered.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown can be quite difficult. There are lots of boss fights, but even basic enemies can put up epic fights. Platforming sections progressively become more technical, complex, and precise as the game goes on. Exploration to find power-ups, new abilities, and more requires skill in both combat and platforming to succeed. Button mashing, using multiple buttons at once, and more are all necessary.
Ubisoft has baked in a solid number of options to help players be comfortable with the level of challenge in The Lost Crown, however. Apart from basic options like subtitles, a high contrast mode, and more, there are optional settings to lower the difficulty of combat, add an aim assist for melee attacks, create portals to aid in progressing through challenging platforming sections, and add more elements to the map to aid in exploration. Localization support is also quite good. Overall, I'm pleased with the work Ubisoft has done to help ensure as many players as possible can find the right level of challenge for them and still enjoy exploring the world of Prince of Persia.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown — Final thoughts
You should play this if ...
✅You're looking for a content-packed, challenging Metroidvania
Highly precise platforming, challenging combat, and plenty of secrets? Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has it all, with a wide array of abilities and ways to customize your playstyle with different upgrades and tools. It's a very in-depth gameplay system that is almost as good as the absolute best in the genre, and that's high praise indeed.
✅You're eager for a new adventure in the Prince of Persia franchise
Look, I know this isn't a direct follow-up to The Forgotten Sands, but The Lost Crown is truly a fun and engaging game, and it's a great Prince of Persia adventure. It's also inevitably going to introduce a ton of new players to the franchise, and I believe those players are destined to become fans.
You should not play this if ...
❌You don't enjoy challenging games
Even with Ubisoft's various accessibility options, The Lost Crown can be a difficult game. It's not the hardest game I've played, but both combat and platforming require juggling multiple skills, high precision, and fast reaction times. Some of that can be alleviated with optional settings, but some players still might not enjoy their time with it.
When I previewed Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, I had high hopes for what this intriguing Metroidvania platformer from Ubisoft could deliver. Even so, the finished product surprised me with its diversity, challenge, and engaging world. Minor flaws and shortcomings prevent The Lost Crown from being elevated to the true greats of the genre, but it comes damn close to it. This is a fun, satisfyingly difficult action-adventure game with precise platforming, frenetic combat, and an engrossing story, easily earning a place among the best Xbox games of 2024 (so far).
I encountered some issues with controls during difficult platforming sections and there were minor visual and audio glitches, but I'm confident Ubisoft will resolve those in post-launch patches (and they're far from enough to deter you from playing). My only real complaints are that I wish character animations during dialogue sections were more dynamic and the story was more consistent in quality. All-in-all, I greatly enjoyed my time with The Lost Crown, and I fully intend to return and 100% the game (I had around 82% completion after rolling the credits around the 26-hour mark).
Congratulations, Ubisoft. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game, and one that'll undoubtedly win over a lot of players.
If you want to try Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown for yourself, there is a demo available for free at Microsoft (Xbox) today and on every launch platform, giving you a week to test the game and decide if you want to pull the trigger.
Minor flaws and issues aside, The Lost Crown is an excellent addition to the Metroidvania genre. It thoroughly engages with its meticulous combat and platforming, and surprises with its epic and engrossing narrative. It's not cheap for a 2D platformer, but there is more than enough content to keep players occupied for at least a couple dozen hours.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.