The lights are on
For many fans of the Prince of Persia, the 2008 release is a low-point for the series. It kept the series’ trademark wall-running and platforming elements, but was a drastic departure in other areas. Some people decry it because of its ending and its lack of challenge, but I absolutely adore it, and think that it’s far better than it gets credit for.
Ico taught many developers a crucial lesson in game design: having a sympathetic partner with you during your adventure makes everything more meaningful. This is a lesson that Bioshock Infinite put to good use, and it is one that Prince of Persia arguably executed to an even greater degree. In Ico, you help Yorda through the course of the game. She is a burden, but she is not one that the player minds taking care of. In Bioshock Infinite, Elizabeth is not a burden. She stays out of your way while you work, offering a helping hand when she can. In Prince of Persia, Elika is your crucial partner. You are her burden. She saves you every time you die, helps you fight, and helps you climb. You can engage in conversation with her at any time, building your relationship with her at your own pace. She is the true protagonist of the game, and you’d have to be heartless to not fall in love with her by the end.
The art direction in Prince of Persia is one of the few elements of the game that nearly no one complains about. The game is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like a water-color painting, and every section of its open world is distinct and beautiful. The game even pushes you to great heights in order to look out over its engrossing vistas as you learn about what happened to this world and why Elika is struggling to fix it.
The gameplay looks like a Prince of Persia game, but plays something a little bit closer to a rhythm game, and scales back the focus on combat significantly. You can’t die per se, because when you fall from a deadly height, or lose all your health in combat, Elika saves you. This makes the game much easier compared to other games in the series, but it is all in favor of the world and your immersion within it. Not dying means there is no need to simply accept the conceit that characters in video games are constantly dying and reappearing. You don’t need to suspend your disbelief. Elika and the Prince’s journey is a continuous one.
I won’t offer specifics about the ending in fear of spoiling it, but I will say that it is one that is unfairly criticized. It’s an atypical video game ending, and I hope that in time, players will be able to understand that it eschewed the ‘Hollywood’ ending in order to stay true to the nature of its characters and the high-stakes of the world. I’m sorry to be so ambiguous, and I apologize if I am not being ambiguous enough. Ubisoft pulled a Mass Effect 3 nearly four years before Shepard’s journey by releasing DLC that changed the ending, possibly in response to the critical reception. I think the ending was beautiful and perfect as it was, and I encourage anyone who decides to give this game a shot to not even bother with it – unless a sequel gets announced.
I still boot up the game every now and then to breathe in its world, and watch the Prince and Elika work together in acrobatic harmony. It’s a game whose focus is on the experience and the beauty of traveling through the world. It has more in common with the recently released thatgamecompany title, Journey than the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time trilogy. I am always heartbroken to hear that people don’t like it. It’s a different type of game with a Prince of Persia cloak, and its well worth the time of anyone who wants to see the medium of video games elevated to a state of legitimate artistic expression.
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THis game is a good adventure. If one can abort its weakness in boss fight or fighting mechanic in general, the game is absolutely a must for adventurer.
I liked this game. One of the best Prince of Persias I have played. I loved the look of the game and just overall the feel it had. A great and fun adventure... which was ruined by DLC ending
I loved this game for its story and beautiful artwork. I thought the gameplay for the main game was very easy and lacking in challenge. I thought the ending DLC (which i actually purchased.... a rarity for me) was awesome and wished the traversal was far more difficult and exciting. I wished the entire game was like that.
Probably my favorite cult classic of the lot
You've sold me on it Kyle.
Thank you for acknowledging this oft-overlooked gem! I always thought this was a great reimagining of Prince of Persia, and have been clamoring for a sequel ever since I finished it. Instead, Ubisoft has given us endless Assassin's Creed sequels. Sigh...
Great article! The choice of words and description of the game were right on. Other than how beautiful the game is I really enjoyed the game play and feeling that the two protagonists were actually becoming emotionally involved with each other. I love how the game was focusing on an actual story element rather than fighting every 10 seconds. And restoring an area was the most fulfilling moment in a game just to see how the colors went wild and open up a new depth of color was just mind blowing to me. Some of the extras were cool and the DLC was kinda lame but I love this game that much I had to try it. If anyone says they hate this game should grin and bare it for the first 20 mins and I'm positive they will change their tune. This was a good change for the game and it would be nice to see a sequel.
I actually thought this game looked fantastic, a departure from the style of the franchise. Never played it, but the art style looked amazing
I bought this and played all the way through on the same day. The story was good, likeable characters, interesting enemies, but the gameplay wasn't very challenging. The visuals are what really captured my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but haven't felt the need to go back and play it again. As I write this, I realize I could be describing my experience with Journey. The comparison to Journey is very apt indeed.
On that note, I wonder how much the brand name hurt the game. People expect specific things from a franchise. Would it have gotten a better reception if it had not been attached to the Prince Of Persia brand?
I played it and beat it. This game was good. the combat was great and it looked beautiful. but not being able to die was a big down fall for me. It was just too easy. I would love to see another PoP game in this style soon. Bring it on US