The Rogue Prince of Persia makes for a superb roguelike mashup

Posted on May 27, 2024

Combining the Prince of Persia IP with the slick and satisfying roguelike gameplay of Dead Cells, The Rogue Prince of Persia debuts into Early Access as an immediate success. Developer Evil Empire is far from a one-hit wonder, with this new release exploding with both nostalgia for a beloved property as well as superb action/platforming gameplay. Like a match made in heaven, Prince of Persia flourishes as a 2D roguelike, making for a captivating release that will have you returning time and time again.

After a very brief delay due to a release clash with another big roguelike, The Rogue Prince of Persia’s launch is an impressive one. This is a game that both learns from past titles whilst intelligently advancing and adapting to a known IP. It borrows from titles like the aforementioned Dead Cells as well as games like Rogue Legacy and Hades to create the basis of an impressive package. The action gameplay is buttery smooth and satisfying, the platforming is delightfully integrated and rewarding, and the narrative throughline works well to give some importance to the situation whilst justifying a looping timeline.

Players will take on the role of the titular Prince, whose journey will have him fighting back against a Hun army who have taken control of the capital. The Prince will operate as the saviour as he slashes and leaps his way through many enemies, respawning at a hidden camp after every fatal blow thanks to the power of a magical bola. The Prince’s day will reset upon death, allowing for the satisfying gameplay loop of trying and trying again, learning from past mistakes and utilising the information gathered from a past attempt to support your next one.

Weapons, Tools and Trinkets unlock as you play, as will new paths that lead you deeper into the Capital, meaning progression never feels unobtainable. The narrative is fairly light but you can glean information from characters that point you in the right direction, providing context as to where you need to go next and what you should be looking to achieve. Even in its Early Access state, the game has dozens of hours worth of content (depending on your proficiency) that includes 6 different biomes, 2 boss battles, and countless combinations of Weapons, Tools, and Trinkets that make each run unique.

“This is a game that both learns from past titles whilst intelligently advancing and adapting to a known IP.”

The Trinket system in particular is the most complex here, with four Trinket slots available that modify your play. These Trinkets may give you more powerful attacks from behind, help you gather hitpoints or energy, create poison clouds or slow fields after a successful ranged attack or kick, and many other passive effects. The Trinkets can also be upgraded to offer new passives by slotting in other Trinkets in specific orders. Suddenly the Trinket slot chosen and the type of Trinket slotted will play into the strategy of a particular attempt. And these have potentially massive impacts.

The Weapon and Tool variety is also really enjoyable to play around with. A simple bow might do the trick, however you may instead prefer a grapple hook to bring enemies right to you. The fast and furious swipes of your Twin Daggers are great, but perhaps a Spear will offer a longer range and more multi-hit opportunities. The range of options is fantastic to see, with even more variety possibly on the horizon during the game’s Early Access development.

Attacking enemies on a 2D plane is all well and good, but the game is certainly carried by its animation and movement system. Everything just feels so buttery smooth and it’s a delight to master. Dodging out of attacks requires reflexes, leaping over enemies provides new positioning advantages, attacking from above breaks enemy shields, kicking a foe into another stuns them both, and launching an enemy into a nearby spike wall or off a ledge will always be entertaining. At first, you won’t be in full control of all these options and may confuse yourself with the different button inputs, but soon you’ll start to feel like an assassin juggernaut as you elegantly leap and dive around the battlefield with ease. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Prince of Persia game without the platforming, which is really where the game shines and excels.

Complete with environmental hazards, crumbling platforms, climbable ropes, and of course wall running, The Rogue Prince of Persia gives you everything you’d want from a 2D game from this IP. Certain challenge rooms exist for no other reason than to test your platforming prowess. It can almost feel like a puzzle as you plot your path from beginning to end. Run up a wall, jump across to a swinging rope, leap over a spinning blade, and slowly descend through a corridor of spikes with your blade slicing through a wall. It all just works and makes you wonder why a game just like this hasn’t existed until now. The Prince of Persia makes for a perfect roguelike with so much potential for future content and releases.

The game’s biomes are all distinct and offer new enemy types, hazards, and aesthetic choices. What perhaps shocked me the most though was just how good the music was in each of these areas. Genuine earworms are found all throughout this experience and will have you tapping your toes whilst capping your foes. The variety here works in the game’s favour, allowing you to feel a solid sense of progression, an increase in difficulty as you venture further, and new opportunities to learn from the biomes you occupy.

The Rogue Prince of Persia is unfinished but it doesn’t mean what’s currently on offer feels incomplete. I did run into one unfortunate glitch where a central character stopped giving dialogue despite the fresh exclamation marks appearing above his head. I don’t know what story content I missed because of this glitch, but I’m hoping small things just like this comfortably get ironed out during development.

You can find The Rogue Prince of Persia on Steam right now or check out more information on the game’s website. We can’t wait to revisit this one upon its full 1.0 release date.