Ubisoft’s classic franchise is back with an entirely new look, a new gameplay philosophy, and a new Prince. This fresh approach to an established franchise is pulled off exceptionally well, leaving this Prince of Persia as arguably one of the most memorable games in the venerable series.

The game begins with our new Prince wandering the desert in search of Farah – his donkey. As fate would have it, the Prince winds up meeting Elika, a beautiful young woman and descendant of a clan sworn to guard the prison of the evil god Ahriman. Unfortunately for the two, their meeting comes as Ahriman breaks out of his prison within the Tree of Life, spreading corruption across the four areas of the world. If left unchecked, the corruption will ultimately drag the entire world down into darkness.

Prince of Persia’s gameplay will take most gamers – especially those seasoned platformers – a while to get used to. It isn’t that the learning curve is steep. Rather, this new system – which is actually more streamlined – goes against general gameplay mechanics that have become expected in the genre, such as never needing to hold buttons down or preloading your jumps. The streamlined controls work to perfection with an amazing fluidity. Combat is also handled far differently this time around; fights are now always one-on-one, instead of the usual hordes of enemies. Because of this, battles all seem like small boss fights, still on an epic scale, and require far more skill than simple button mashing. One particularly noteworthy change to the gameplay is the absence of the Sands of Time from the previous trilogy. However, the Sands are replaced by a gauntlet on the Prince’s left hand, which assists with all platforming needs as well as combat needs.

Another notable change to the gameplay is the integration of the Prince’s lovely female companion, Elika. Because of Elika, it is literally impossible to die in the game. If you die in battle, Elika automatically saves you, though your enemy also recovers some health. A mistimed jump yields the same result, Elika reaches out and gabs you, transporting you both back to the last platform you jumped from. Elika’s controlled movements are mapped to the triangle button. While platforming and exploring, a push of triangle will result in a double jump with her help. In battle, the triangle button has Elika use her magic in assistance to the Prince. More than just a sidekick however, Elika plays an integral role in the actual story, creating an incredibly memorable character. More impressively, she is able to keep up with the Prince’s impressive acrobatics without ever getting in the way and becoming a nuisance.

Another change most gamers will likely notice upon starting the game up is the graphics. They aren’t necessarily cel-shaded, but “stylized” – they provide far more texture and detail than cel-shading. The style works beautifully in conjunction with the rest of the game world, which is a marvelous expanse that can be explored immediately at the outset of the game. The art design is incredibly impressive and unique, while drawing some resemblance to the feel of the critically acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus. From a technical standpoint, everything holds up well. The animations, which are incredibly fluid in both exploration and combat, are amazing. While the world looks beautiful, the characters hold up equally as well, blending seamlessly with the game’s style. The game is a testament to brilliant artistic design.

Almost equally as impressive is the music in the game. The soundtrack features impressive scores that manage to stand out because of how fitting they are for such an epic adventure. The voice acting is all top-notch, whether it is from the Prince, Elika, or the bosses. The dialogue itself is also well written, believable, and frequently humorous. Some of the Prince’s one-liners may be hit or miss, and it does take a while to get past the fact that the new Prince is also Drake, from Uncharted.

Prince of Persia is one of those rare games that manage to stand out among the herd, not necessarily because it’s the best game anyone has ever played, but because of how fun, fresh, and completely impressive it is. It boasts a compelling narrative with a considerable amount of backstory accompanied by fleshed out, memorable characters. The world brought to life in this game, thanks in large part to the remarkable art design, is purely enchanting – you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t periodically stop atop a high pillar and simply take in the view. Perhaps most importantly, the gameplay is solid, providing one of the best platforming experiences not just in today’s market, but in the genre’s long history. Some may be turned off by an arguable lack of challenge, but the game is so much more about telling a story through a gorgeous world, interesting characters, and fluid gameplay.

Prince of Persia takes gamers on an epic quest through a remarkable land, ultimately culminating in one of the more memorable experiences in this generation of video games. While some may be turned off by a serious challenge, gamers that can get past that are in for an amazing experience. Easily worth the purchase, this is a remarkable game that may just reach the well sought after rank of “classic”.