Every once in a while, I get a game more or less by chance. Back when I was a kid this happened quite a lot but now I only very rarely get a game without thinking about it for weeks. So happened just a week ago with Prince of Persia for the Playstation 3. Amazon.co.uk had a sale back then I thought it couldn’t be not worth EUR 23. It’s not like it got bad reviews or something but its developers definitely made some controversial gameplay decisions.
Remember the original Prince of Persia? I think it was actually one of the first games on the school-PCs I’ve ever played. It was hard as hell (for someone who wasn’t really all that much into games back then) and I never finished it. That said, I always remembered it for its quite unique style of combining puzzles with acrobatics.
Many years later I got a copy of Prince of Persia: Sand of Time for the PS2 and really loved it. I was quite surprised that it still had the same feel for me as the original. Although, it perhaps had a little bit too much combat for my taste.
The new Prince of Persia (they really should have given it a subtitle or something) goes in the completely opposite direction with nearly zero combat. You rely mostly on your acrobatic skills while exploring the platform and cliffs of the game’s 4 areas (with 6 levels each) in order to put the rising God of Darkness, Ahriman, back into his bottle. Right after getting a chance to escape from his prison in an old temple, he called upon four minions that now act as the bosses of those four areas, each with quite a unique style and weakness.
The gameplay itself is perhaps the part of the game, where you will see the biggest divide in opinions. The game mostly plays on rails but still also offers you a simple navi-system so that you never get even the chance of not knowing where to go next. You and your company, Princess Elika, move around the world jumping from platform to platform and cliff the cliff, first simply by human means and later on thanks to Elika also through magic.
That kind of gameplay is actually pretty entertaining. The problem here is, though, that it mostly plays itself. It is rather forgiving and therefor it is actually hard to miss a platform when jumping in the vague direction of it. And if you miss, Elika will rescue you and you will get another chance from the last position where you foot touch solid ground. This is the part, were many people complain about the gaming being by far too forgiving with there being no challenge for them anymore. I’m actually not sure, if I can completely agree here. If the challenge for people consists of having to replay a whole value because they failed at a single part of a level, that we definitely have different definitions of “challenge”.
Prince of Persia just makes it easier to replay a section where you’ve failed. You still have to manage the jump or the combo-jump. That said, for this style of gameplay the game should definitely be less forgiving when it comes to actually reaching a platform or a cliff or some growth on a wall.
While very forgiving, the gameplay helped concentrating on the dialogs between the Prince and Elika, which are mostly hilarious thanks to both having totally different points of views on basically anything and calling the Prince’s naturally “cocky” would be quite an understatement. The voice acting is great, although, I have to say that for some reason the German voice acting and script felt more entertaining to me compared to the English version. Nevertheless, this part of the game is really great. The story as a whole, though, is at least for me on the “Yeah, whatever” side. Princess dies, Father frees god to revive daughter, god wants to take over world, you try to stop him, yada yada yada. Also: Don’t expect an ending that explains everything.
Gameplay-wise only the boss-battles actually provide some diversity with being quite unique for each boss. For example one you can’t really hurt so you have to push him off a platform or into some pillars. The other one tries to trick you with illusions. The downside of these boss-encounters is, that they are mostly invitations for button-mashing, which also becomes a bit boring if you fight a boss more than once per day.
I won’t really go into all the bugs I’ve noticed while playing the game since they mostly didn’t influence the gameplay. On the other hand they give the game a slightly unfinished feel during the first couple of hours. During the later hours I rarely noticed any bigger problems, though, apart from the Prince something getting stuck on a wall-growth.