The Rogue Prince of Persia Early Access Impressions

The Rogue Prince of Persia Early Access

If you told me years ago that in the first half of 2024, I’d be playing two new Prince of Persia titles, I would have called you crazy. Given that The Sands of Time remake is facing some difficulties and problems with its development, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the series as of late.

Thankfully, The Lost Crown was a supremely stylish Metroidvania that brought the series back with a bang early this year, and with another title in Steam early access in the form of The Rogue Prince of Persia, fans of the series are, as the saying goes, eating good.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is exactly what you’d expect from Evil Empire, the talents and minds behind Dead Cells. There’s a definite feel to it that resembles the well-known Metroidvania title from 2018, such as the smooth side-scrolling traversal, and it certainly fits the series well.

Unlike The Lost Crown, The Rogue Prince of Persia is also a roguelite, implementing procedurally generated levels and choices in between that will improve the prince’s chances of making it through. The whole game is adorned with what looks to be a distinct old-school hand-drawn aesthetic with a mix of pastel and muted colors, which may not be for everyone.

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Its genre dictates a number of branching paths with reward choices, multiple currencies, weapon choices, and tough opponents. The Rogue Prince of Persia is certainly all that, so roguelite fans will definitely feel at home here, and the general flow of repeating a run and gaining upgrade currency to go on another run that takes you further (hopefully) by trying out a different loadout is present.

Despite the intimidating premise, the game isn’t too hard to understand and get into. Information is offered sparingly but just enough throughout your runs to keep things intriguing, especially the story bits. Even the weapon system is pretty straightforward, with the prince able to discover and choose from up to 8 weapons like the javelin or the claws and 6 tools like the chakram or the grappling hook, each with their own distinct playstyle and benefit but not as diverse as you might think.

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Additionally, players will be able to gather medallions throughout their runs, outfitting the prince with benefits that can be leveled up to aid players in their journey. These medallions offer advantages like generating a poison field upon breaking an enemy shield, or even throwing knives when kicking enemies. Various weapon and medallion combos will be key to spicing up The Rogue Prince of Persia’s gameplay, but there’s also a benefit to familiarizing yourself with a specific loadout you feel comfortable with.

One thing The Rogue Prince of Persia does quite differently is movement and traversal, and while most of the basic movements such as running and jumping are the same, the game employs a clever wall run mechanic that works quite well given its 2D format. Yes, you can wall run here, and it’s as simple as holding the left trigger to scale walls either from left to right or down to up.

Movement is fluid, responsive, and easy to get into, but quite hard to master. Thankfully, levels in The Rogue Prince of Persia are simple and do not offer extreme challenges. Even parts of the biomes that are filled with trademark spikes and wall jumps are here, but players can easily run through them in one try.

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I did encounter problems with the boss, though, Berude the Unstoppable. Problem is a tricky word to use, since its patterns are easily recognizable, and wall running can make the fight trivial, but depending on the equipment you pick up throughout the run, you may be in for a rough time.

Right now, while trying it out on the Steam Deck, its frame rate is quite inconsistent, and it takes raising the TDP higher than normal to keep it locked to 60, especially during loading, which takes a bit longer than expected, despite the game looking a lot “lighter” compared to other similar titles.

The Rogue Prince of Persia, at least from its current state, looks promising. It would be quite unfair to compare it to another recently released title, Hades 2, which offers a more complete and polished affair even in early access, but there’s definitely potential here. The developers have proven themselves time and again with quality content for Dead Cells, so this should be something they’ll be able to improve over time.

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*The Rogue Prince of Persia was tested on an OLED Steam Deck with a review copy provided by the publisher.

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