To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

The Rogue Prince of Persia review: A solid start for a promising game

The Rogue Prince of Persia review: A solid start for a promising game

This new entry into the Prince of Persia franchise is gorgeous and interesting

When I previewed The Rogue Prince of Persia I left my very short time with the title eager to see more. Upon booting up the game this time around I was still just as impressed by the visual design choices and after spending plenty of time in this version of Persia, I couldn’t get enough. Which is why it hurts a little that the game, now out in early access, doesn’t seem to be performing well.

It’s interesting that the developer, Evil Empire, decided to move their release date so they wouldn’t clash with Hades 2. I’d have to guess they did this because they assumed roguelike fans would be playing the latest in the Hades series rather than their Prince of Persia game and sadly, even after release, this seems true as the game isn’t attracting many players, at all. At the time of writing this review, The Rogue Prince of Persia only has 124 active players and, I’m going to be honest, it deserves a hell of a lot more than that.

This is probably more indicative of genre bloat, as so many roguelikes seem to launch nowadays and much like the Soulslike genre there are too many games to play. My hope is that more people will slowly flock to this entry in the Prince of Persia franchise as it ages and as Evil Empire begin to implement new areas, items, and weapons into the game during the early access period.

Before I really get stuck into this review I feel like a note must be made. This is an early access Steam title and it really is early access. It feels more like a beta than a lot of games out there. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but it makes reviewing a lot tougher as the game is only going to grow and, as it stands right now, it’s a little ‘bare bones.’

Rogue Prince of Persia
Rogue Prince of Persia

If you’re wondering what exactly The Rogue Prince of Persia is you don’t have to look too far as Evil Empire’s work on Dead Cells shows off a lot of what you can expect here. This is a side-scrolling platformer with a myriad of enemies to tackle and lots of big bosses that stand in your way. Along the way, you’ll find different weapons and items that can improve your attempt at breaking the time loop you find yourself in, where the Huns have invaded Persia. If you’ve ever played a roguelike you’ll recognise the genre’s touchstones throughout.

For example, upon death, the prince is sent back to his camp and the original point in time where he was dragged out from the war with the Huns by a villager. You lose everything you had on you at the time and start from scratch. Of course, you will slowly upgrade the prince through shops in the camp and you can spend currency to unlock new items that you’ll find on your route.

So far, it’s a roguelike. Where The Rogue Prince of Persia sets itself apart isn’t just through the stark and colourful visuals that seem to transform historical details from Persia into a Saturday morning cartoon. No, it also utilises the movement techniques from the series over the years and constantly feels fluid.

Jumping from platform to pole is responsive and the wall-running is a chef’s kiss. Wall-running in 2D? I hear you say. Yes. By holding one of the shoulder buttons the prince will run along the background artwork in whatever direction you’re facing. He’ll scurry up and grab a platform, or dash across a gap before leaping to safety. Just running about is bags of fun, and that’s before getting to the combat.

Now, before I delve into the combat options I will say that, at the moment, fighting does feel a little one-dimensional. The prince doesn’t have a lot of different techniques in his arsenal, everything comes down to what weapon you choose - daggers, swords, spears, along with ranged weapons - but the average fight with a grunt will see you attack, dodge over their shoulder, and attack again.

It’s only in later biomes, when new enemies are introduced, that the combat begins to get really interesting because even though the move set doesn’t change, the tactics do.

Rogue Prince of Persia
Rogue Prince of Persia

Spear-wielding enemies, for example, will stab upwards if you try to attack them from above with a slam move, and getting in close is tricky.

For the first few biomes enemies are pretty standard, there’s a guy with a sword, one with a bow, some toothy creatures, and a fella who lobs bombs at you. Every once in a while you’ll come across an enemy outlined in blue, these are shielded enemies who must be battered about to chip away the shield before revealing their ordinary red health bar.

Various abilities can break the shield instantly, like kicking another enemy into the shield or using a ground slam. It mixes things up but doesn’t do enough to make the opening two biomes feel varied, and given you’ll be seeing these a lot, it would be nice to have more variation.

Bolstering your fighting ability are the medallions, four of which can be equipped, and these offer new passive abilities like resin being pasted on the floor to slow enemies when you slam into it from height; or there’s the medallion that increases the damage taken by enemies that are kicked away. The little badges can be upgraded freely and when they’re added to your slots they can boost up the effects of other selected slots, making the right balance deadly if you get a great combo.

Throughout the various biomes you’ll come across vendors who take gold in exchange for services like the sale of weapons and medallions, or upgrading the damage on your weapons. You’ll find them tucked away in far areas of the levels, so exploration is key, even in such linear areas. There’s a secondary currency, a funky purple essence, that can be spent back in your camp to unlock new weapons and medallions. This can be banked at the end of each biome so it’s not lost upon death.

Rogue Prince of Persia
Rogue Prince of Persia

And honestly, that’s about it. I could praise the visuals even further because it sets itself apart from so many other games, and I can tell you the music and sound are top-notch. However, if you enjoy roguelikes, you’re here for the gameplay loop, and I can say that this is as interesting as many other games. I say this with a ‘but’.

But, due to its place in early access, the game does feel like a very early version. I can imagine that once Evil Empire and Ubisoft get going and can bring us a solid roadmap of additions, we’re likely to see a much more fleshed-out experience and one with a lot of options. As it stands right now, it’s a brilliant foundation for what’s to come. It definitely deserves more players, but such is the life of an early access title - a lot of players could be waiting for more content before buying. What you’ll find here is a competent, gorgeous roguelike that can only go up, and what’s included will keep you going for plenty of hours.

Pros: Stunning art design, great roguelike gameplay loop, and a bold new direction for the franchise

Cons: It’s a bit ‘bare bones’, the combat is too simple at the start, and it lacks depth.

For fans of: Dead Cells, Prince of Persia, Roguelikes

6/10: Good

The Rogue Prince of Persia is available now on Steam (version tested). Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft

Topics: Prince Of Persia, Reviews, Ubisoft