The Rogue Prince of Persia

Early Access Preview: The Rogue Prince of Persia

The Prince is back again (and again)!

After over a dozen years of silence from the Prince of Persia, fans now have two new, distinctly different titles available.

To kick off 2024, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown blew us away here at Console Creatures. Then, not long after, we got the announcement that The Rogue Prince of Persia was also on the way, and soon! Ubisoft and Evil Empire were nice enough to send along a copy of the Early Access Steam build, and I jumped in. I was excited to play!

The Prince Has Gone Rogue

Steve Vegvari and I had a chance to play the preview build not too long ago. We sat down on the Creature Cast to discuss our time with it, walking away quite impressed!

We both talked about how the short, hands-on demo was great, but it felt like it was just the tip of the iceberg. I’m happy our suspicions were correct; there is much more to discover here. The Rogue Prince of Persia can be played in several different ways, with the roguelite elements adding an exciting twist to the story’s unfolding.

Like Argon in The Lost Crownthis iteration of the Prince tries to stop an overarching evil that has taken over the lands around them. The Hun is a violent force that strange powers have enhanced, and as the titular hero, you’re one of the best chances to fend them off. Thankfully, your trusty bola has mystical powers that will shoot you back in time to replay your approach (or roguelite runs). This is a 2D action-platformer embracing the ever-popular roguelite genre within this decades-old franchise. In my eyes, it feels like a natural direction to take.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is Fluid and Deliberate

Evil Empire is well known for its work on Dead Cells. They worked alongside Motion Twin to create one of the most successful roguelite games ever. That pedigree of talent and success is shown off here in The Rogue Prince of Persia.

You can use several unique skills and talents to traverse and dispose of enemies. Movement is key. During fights, you can hop over enemies to avoid their attacks, but the most unique aspect of the game’s control is how you maneuver the Prince throughout the environment. After my previous hands-on session, I wrote that this is the core of the gameplay, and it still rings true after a dozen hours with the Early Access build.

With a pull of the left trigger or L2 button on your controller, you’ll dash and be able to string together combo jumps. This move can be used anytime, whether populated with enemies or in the challenge rooms that put your twitch skills to the test.

What’s interesting about this mechanic is how it feels and what you can interact with. The Rogue Prince of Persia is filled with beautiful environments and backgrounds. The pull of the trigger lets you wall-run and traverse in a fun, fluid, and exciting way. This was indeed my favourite part of the game so far. I loved the implementation in fights and to get myself around.

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The Roguelite Systems

The preview build of the game didn’t give us much time to dig into the roguelite elements. Now, after some time and dozens of runs, I can see the seeds being planted in what could be an advantageous system.

First up is the story. It feels like Evil Empire has drawn some inspiration from Hades and Hades 2. While they may not be the only games doing it, they’ve both excelled at slowly dishing out character moments and story beats as you meet new people and speak to them. The Rogue Prince of Persia shares this DNA and doles it out excitingly. For example, at one point, I found someone who was held prisoner, but it wasn’t until I gathered information from another character in a different “biome” that I could open the doors and free the captive.

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Additionally, rewards are handed out as weapons and amulets (similar to Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown system). Weapons (so far) range from two daggers, a large axe, an swords. Each operates in its way, adding variety to each run depending on what you discover. Your secondary items are mostly ranged like a bow, but others you can unlock are massive Wolverine-like claws that rip through Hun baddies like melted butter.

It takes quite some time before you can truly taste the new items and weapons, but once you do, they’re fun to experiment with.

Stages and runs are also procedurally generated. I played through each current area and boss fights, getting a good handle on how they all look and feel. While each region is never the same, they don’t vary all that much and follow similar patterns. This is not uncommon in this genre, though, so it’s not a huge issue.

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I also want to touch on the The Rogue Prince of Persia‘s performance. Thankfully, it mostly ran very smoothly during my time. I had no crashes or major bugs. The game does stutter occasionally as it loads new areas, but it isn’t anything that can’t be tweaked and didn’t cause any issues once the gameplay picks back up. I believe some fighting mechanics (damage output and health bar, for example) can be adjusted. But again, in its current state, it’s not something that has ever kept me from starting another run.

Keep a close eye on this one. With its unique style, fun and challenging gameplay, and some of the most rocking music around, it could become one of the most impressive roguelites of the last few years. Evil Empire has put this game in Early Access on Steam, updating their progress and frequently dishing out development details. They’ve also openly said it wants to make the game at least twice as much as it is now. For me, this is excellent news!