- Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a 2D hack-and-slash Metroidvania developed by Ubisoft Montpellier.
- Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown takes big risks to deliver a unique experience in an iconic franchise.
- The AAA space deserves more experimental titles following the success of The Lost Crown.
Some of my favorite kinds of games in this industry are more experimental titles from major publishers. Titles such as Gravity Rush, Death Stranding, Hi-Fi Rush, etc., are games I have a lot of appreciation for. Joining those games in the fray is the newly released Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, a 2D Metroidvania developed and published by Ubisoft.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown has launched to resounding critical acclaim from critics. The game has received high praise for its combo and parry-focused combat system, tough, cinematic boss fights, and fun platforming mechanics. My colleague, Hanzala Iftikhar, has written a fantastic piece about The Lost Crown and talks about it with more expertise than I ever could.
Of particular regard is the game’s music. Composed by Iranian composer Mentrix, Prince of Persia’s music avoids falling into the ignorant stereotypes typically associated with all Middle Eastern cultures. Even though Ubisoft itself is falling into many pitfalls currently, it’s hard not to appreciate their representation of Iranian culture through Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown and their portrayal of Baghdad under Islamic rule in Assassins Creed Mirage.
But I digress, I think the most exciting thing about Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is that it ignites the hope for more experimental titles from major publishers. The game itself feels like a project born out of risk, a brutal 2D Metroidvania inspired by the likes of Metroid Dread and Hollow Knight isn’t something you commonly see from a AAA publisher after all.
Ubisoft Montpellier houses some truly incredible talent and it speaks to their pedigree that they can get a largely formula-oriented publisher to fund a title like this. I’d argue Montpellier is the best studio working under Ubisoft, consistently developing some of the company’s most innovative titles. Games that truly stand out in the midst of largely formulaic AAA titles.
The most exciting thing about Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is that it ignites the hope for more experimental titles from major publishers.”
It feels refreshing to play a game in a genre that feels largely unrepresented in AAA gaming. While everyone and their mother are making 2D Metroidvania games in the indie space, it truly “hits different” seeing what’s possible in this genre with a bigger budget.
In the same breadth, this is what I felt playing the Dead Space remake recently.
Playing the Dead Space Remake for the first time was a surreal experience. As a huge Dead Space fan who replays the originals frequently, it was hard to describe what I felt returning to the halls of the Ishimura. Part of that was because I had resigned myself to think that Dead Space as a series was dead and buried. I played the first two games as a reminder to myself that these games would never be coming back.
I’d say it was a very strong case of, “They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.”
Playing the remake felt like seeing a long-lost friend after a decade. Getting in on an old joke and catching up to the present. I could feel my muscle memory taking over as I comfortably returned to my one-two combo of severing a Necromorph’s right leg followed by their left arm. It was a truly refreshing game that took risks to create a linear third-person shooter devoid of meaningless DLC.
Even right now I’m progressing through my third romp through the Ishimura while working on this very article. I’m doing a masochistic Impossible difficulty run using only the Plasma Cutter and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had playing a shooter. Hacking apart a necromorph with the single best weapon ever created for a video game remains as fun as ever.
There’s something about Dead Space remake that feels very “of its time” in the same way as another remake released the same year. While Resident Evil 4 Remake is a lot less 1:1 compared to Dead Space, both games carry a very “old-school” kind of feeling to them.
The way the progression works, incentivizing exploration and replays while encouraging player skill, the complete lack of more conventional shooter mechanics like cover systems in favor of treating each combat encounter like a circuit you loop through multiple times while thinning out the herd of enemies chasing you. It’s a very unique kind of action combat system that’s just not present nowadays.
Playing the remake felt like seeing a long lost friend after a decade.”
Unfortunately, Dead Space did not have the luxury of Resident Evil 4. Apparently, the game didn’t perform well commercially meaning that a remake of Dead Space 3 (because Dead Space 2 is a perfect video game), or better yet an entirely new entry in the franchise seems like a pipe dream…
Speaking of sequels that were never going to happen …
Welcome To Valhalla, O’ Champion Of Light
Alan Wake 2 is a masterpiece. A powerhouse of unique narrative and mechanical ideas that has cemented itself as a modern classic that will be spoken about for years to come. Alan Wake 2 didn’t sell well, yet it’s arguably one of the most important games I have ever played in my entire life. No video game has played around with its medium quite as effectively as what is easily Remedy’s Magnum Opus. A game whose base dates back to the very first Max Payne.
Max Payne Alan Wake 2 pic.twitter.com/YSkeMo6SWv
— 𝐑𝐮𝐥𝐞𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞 (@RuleTimeSpace) January 20, 2024
It’s an impossibly hard game to talk about for an amateur writer like me but as someone who loves and respects the medium as the art form it truly is, every moment of this game made me feel like I was experiencing truly important. Important for gaming as a medium, and important for what can be done with it under the vision of an auteur like Sam Lake.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to scream about how effortlessly Alan Wake 2 interweaves different mediums into its storytelling. Using a musical number in the middle of the game as a recap for players who are unfamiliar with the story of the first Alan Wake, or throwing players into an interview done entirely in live-action featuring a supernatural entity talking to Alan and the game’s director Sam Lake.
Remember when this article was about Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown? It technically is, given that these are all risky projects whose future might depend upon their commercial success … or perhaps I just wanted to gush about these games in particular. As Kanye says, I guess we’ll never know.
With AAA development spiraling more and more out of control thanks to inflated budgets and loftier ambitions, it might be ignorant to expect big money spent on ideas that don’t drive sales. As someone who truly believes in this medium’s potential though, I can’t help but yearn to see the business side of the industry taking a backstage for once, perhaps once everyone has infinite money *shrugs*.
Anyways, buy Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown if you haven’t, get the Dead Space remake and you owe it to yourself to play Alan Wake 2.
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