There was a time when Ubisoft seemed defined more by whimsical, French comic book weirdness than generic open world blandness. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown looks like a throwback to that time, the days of Rayman, Beyond Good and Evil, or PoP series high water mark, The Sands of Time, and it's the last thing I expected to really wow me at Summer Game Fest. But here it is:
The new Prince simultaneously feels like a throwback to Sands of Time's swashbuckling charmer, while also having a nice punk edge—I say "yes" to undercuts, and "no" to Jake Gyllenhaal lookalikes! The art style in general reminds me of something like Star Wars: Rebels or Sea of Thieves: still very stylized, but kind of tactile and grounded in a way I appreciate.
The Lost Crown looks like it's taking full advantage of its 2.5D backgrounds as well, with a massive temple complex stretching into the background of one scene, while others show off weirdly verdant and bucolic country hills straight out of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.
The trailer shows off action that reminds me most of Metroid Dread, both in how fluid the Prince moves, and the way a manticore-like boss just fills one side of the screen with its scorpion tail snaking above and hanging down the other side. I also could have sworn I saw something like the flash of Dread's counter indicator.
It's not clear to me whether The Lost Crown is a metroidvania or more linear platformer, though it seems like most non-Pizza Tower platformers these days fall into the former category. If The Lost Crown can wed Dread's character action combat with platforming and exploration that isn't somehow simultaneously obtuse but painfully linear, I think it could be a real winner. Not to mention, I'd love if it really is a throwback to the whimsical charm of Ubisoft platformers past.
The Lost Crown is set to release January 18, 2024 (presumably well before we ever see the now-rebooted Sands of Time Remake), and Ubisoft will show off more of the game at its Forward livestream on Monday, June 12.