It has, quite unbelievably, been 35 whole earth years since Jordan Mechner's original Prince of Persia released for the Apple II back in 1989. It represented one of the first examples of what's become known as the 'cinematic platformer', a genre that combines strong art styles, satisfying narratives and fluidly animated protagonists to bring us memorable adventures to test both our reflexes and puzzling abilities. You know the sort of thing, classics like your Flashback and Another World, and newer examples such as Planet of Lana.

The protagonist in these adventures, according to the blueprint laid down in part by Mechner at least, must be capable of incredible feats of physical prowess, masters of traversal who can also lay the smackdown when required. These combat and movement aspects should then be combined with cleverly designed environmental puzzles, giving players an endlessly addictive gauntlet to run at varying degrees of difficulty. Time and again over the years, this franchise has continuously delivered these goods whilst also continuing to evolve and switch things up through several iterations.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review - Screenshot 1 of 6

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is another rebirth of sorts for the franchise - following on from The Sands of Time and 2008's Prince of Persia revamps - one that takes the established lore of past entries and ditches them in favour of a tangentially-related new protagonist and a bit of role-switching fun. Yes, this brand new tale sees you play as brand new protagonist Sargon, a member of The Immortals (crime-fighting hero types), and a man who meets all the criteria required of a bonafide action hero.

Sargon is a deft hand at the old sword-fighting, you see, he likes to slide around on the floor in his spare time, and can often be found enjoying the thrill of bounding around platforms and across walls without hurting his back or having his trousers fall down. In the opening moments of The Lost Crown, our new hero finds himself on a mission to rescue the actual Prince of Persia, at the same time that he's betrayed by The Immortals and left floundering at the bottom of a pit. It's a spectacular fall from grace for Sargon, he's been proper framed by some right scoundrels, and one that results in a constantly entertaining, hugely addictive and wonderfully well-crafted slice of platforming action from the maestros at Ubisoft Montpellier.

Of course with this particular dev team at the reigns, y'know, the dev team behind the phenomenal Rayman series, we had a feeling this would end up being a bit of a belter and, happily, we've been proven right. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown serves up a roughly 20-hour feast of platform/puzzling (far more if you're a completionist) that brings kinetic action, satisfyingly crunchy and responsive combat, immaculate level design and some supremely clever melding of time-based powers, acrobatic skills and that grey matter you've got wasting away between your earholes.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review - Screenshot 2 of 6

Giving us an all-new story and protagonist, whilst ensuring some smart ties to the past for fans, allows the series to reset its stall somewhat, switching course from the bigger 3D outings of more recent entries and back to a more 'traditional' 2.5D viewpoint. It's genuinely almost kind of emotional at points if you're old enough to remember the first game clearly, as so many times this side-scrolling action perfectly replicates the flow and rhythm of action that we remember from our time with OG Prince of Persia over 30 years ago. In terms of vibes, this game absolutely nails it. We also get fresh new aspects in Metroidvania elements which play a much bigger part now, the map here is equal to the labyrinthine one found in any of Samus Aran's adventures, and it's packed full of shortcuts and secrets that give this game legs.

As Sargon embarks upon a tale that takes him through lush forests, across sandy deserts, the rooftops of great Persian temples and beyond, he picks up skills and powers that transform him from dab-hand hero to reality-shifting manipulator of time itself. We could detail all of these skills and powers here, but we'd be talking way too much whilst also ruining a lot of the fun of progressing and discovering secrets and new abilities for yourself - abilities that are drip-fed to you at just the right time to keep the core gameplay loop from getting stale.

We don't really need to spoil things anyhow as, if you know this genre well at all, you'll know the general drill in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. If you've been treating yourself to the likes of Dead Cells, Metroid Dread, or even Dark Souls, you'll easily see the influences, and more than anything else this is a return to PoP that feels designed to fit the resurgence there's been for this particular type of clever, exacting sort of adventuring. To do this it embraces its beloved roots, abandoning the 3D excesses of later entries in the series in order to rewind back and refine, perfect and expand on the original core vision.

On its default difficulty the menagerie of skeletons, ghouls and other monstrosities you'll face off against will keep you on your toes in terms of tight, parry-based combat, and it only grows more challenging as you up the ante from there. There are some fantastically colourful boss fights dotted along the way too, and each new location looks grand and is packed full of secrets, lore, collectibles and shortcuts that open up new paths and routes through an enormous Swiss cheese warren of a world map. We even get a dip into full-on horror at one point as Sargon makes his way through dark, damp caves that do a great job of highlighting this game''s fantastically atmopsheric soundtrack.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review - Screenshot 3 of 6

So, we've got the smooth and responsive combat, we've got the fancy specials and finishers to reward perfect parries, pixel perfect platforming, neat parkour and clever gauntlets that test all of your accumulated skills at the same time. We've also got plenty of challenge for all you tough nuts out there. However, one of the most impressive aspects of this delightful game is how it gives fans of challenging platformers exactly what they want - to the point of almost feeling cruel at higher difficulties - whilst also providing a ton of smart accessibility options that busts the genre wide open to newcomers.

The headline new mechanic in this regard will be the 'Memory Shard' ability, which allows you to press down on your D-Pad to take a screenshot that's automatically added to the location you're at on your map. It's so simple, it's so brilliant, and we guess it's a natural progression of the screenshot functions found in later Assassin's Creed games. With the ability to tag puzzles or treasures in this way, or simply to mark a route you don't have the skills to traverse just now, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown makes it easy as pie to keep tags on everything.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review - Screenshot 4 of 6

We've also got the game's amulets, collectible items that tweak and boost all manner of aspects of gameplay, such as attack power and max health, whilst also giving you new moves like flashy dodges, exploding enemies and more. Then, on top of all of this, a comprehensive accessibility menu allows players to turn on a clever platform assist mechanic that warps you past tricky sections as well as giving you HUD scaling, a High Contrast Mode, target assistance and sliders for damage input and output. Heck, you can even change dodge windows, parry timings and how fast Athra - used to charge up those special Athra attacks - is accumulated. Choose your own adventure, indeed.

What this results in is a Prince of Persia game that pays respects to its past, giving us a tight and challenging slice of platforming action that's all wrapped up in good looks and an engaging narrative. The fact that it does this whilst also addressing many of the main issues some folk may have with this genre is just the icing on the top. The difficulty is there should you want it, but newcomers, or those in search of something more relaxing, will find plenty to enjoy here too.

2023 wrapped up firing on all cylinders as far as great games go and, with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, the good times are 100% continuing unabated into the new year. This is a delightful game, an expertly-crafted return to this franchise that nails its core gameplay mechanics, serves up a decent story and makes sure everyone can join in the fun whilst doing so. Let's hope this marks the starting point for a new series of side-scrolling Prince of Persia adventures, because we are absolutely down for more of the same. Yes we're being vague on fine details on purpose, apologies for that, but we don't want to spoil any of the fun of discovering the new mechanics and story beats that power this one along.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown Review - Screenshot 5 of 6

On a final note, and in terms of performance on Series X, we've had very few issues with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, but this is the one area where there's anything even approaching a few small niggles here and there. We've had the occasional stutter when moving at top speed on one or two isolated occasions, the odd enemy has got stuck on moving scenery too, but that's the height of our complaints in this regard. This one's a win for smart, slick platforming and accessibility features all at the same time, and a fantastic start to a fresh new year of gaming.


Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a fantastically clever return to the franchise that serves up slick 2.5D action wrapped up in a delightful art style and satisfying story. There's a smart balance here between old-school levels of action and challenge, moreish combat and neat puzzles, mixed with accessibility options and fine-tuning that open this traditionally tough genre up to newcomers. We knew Ubisoft Montpellier was a pair of safe hands, and it's not let us down here, serving up the first must-play of 2024, and we're only just getting started.