The Rogue Prince of Persia Early Access Review: A Mystical Time Loop You’ll Want to Play Again and Again

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    The Rogue Prince of Persia is a 2D roguelite platformer that puts you in the shoes of a Prince trying to save his homeland. As a Prince, you will face hordes of enemies as you maneuver through the capital city of Persia to challenge the leader of the Huns. If you’re a big fan of Roguelites, you won’t want to miss this.

    History

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    The story behind Rogue Prince of Persia is distinctively roguelike with a couple of twists that set it apart from its predecessors like Hades or Backpack Hero. Players control the elderly Prince of Persia whose loved ones have fallen victim to a mystical and currently unbeatable enemy. To save the day, he will have to turn back time again and again until he has learned and done enough to defeat the evil entity for good. It’s a classic story that both Prince of Persia and dungeon crawlers can enjoy.

    While the story focuses on this overwhelmingly difficult objective, it provides smaller objectives that keep you from feeling too focused. These quests are found by meeting new NPCs and carefully exploring unlocked locations. When I started the game, I encountered Azadeh, the boss of Zagros Village. A conversation with her opened the way to the Hun War Camp and led me to embark on a rescue quest for the Prince’s brother, Shahin. Small quests like this breathe new life into the game by giving it more meaning and reasoning to explore the areas you pass through. You are pushed to take paths and do things you normally wouldn’t do while chasing the final boss. Plus, they make the story feel more vibrant and alive. After all, if you take on the main villain to save your family, wouldn’t you naturally help them along the way?

    As the story progresses, players will be able to see the Prince mature through his dialogue and exchanges with other characters. The way he even speaks to Berude will change as players spend more time progressing through the game. It emphasizes how the Prince is maturing mentally even when his physical body is trapped in a time loop.

    The last thing that Rebel Prince of Persia does well story-wise is prevent bigger plot holes from forming. If something happens, there is a reason for it. I am referring particularly to the reversal of time that noticeably affects everyone, unless something has happened that allows someone else to remember it. In the first few races of the game, Forge-Sage Sukhra repeats the same thing to the Prince because he doesn’t remember his conversations. Only when Paachi performs a spell that allows everyone in the Oasis to be unaffected by the reversal do Sukhra and the Prince share more fascinating conversations.

    Score: 5/5

    How to play

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    In combat, players are given a simplistic set of moves including their main attack, a special attack, a diving attack, use of their tool, kicks, and jumping over their enemies. Each attack is used in different circumstances and can be boosted with a variety of medallions. While this sounds relatively simple, the ability to create different setups and the need for good movement adds complexity that increases the stakes without being impossible.

    When you’re not fighting in these levels, you’ll be upgrading your gear or finding new gear. Each level has many routes to explore, some containing treasure chests, others secret rooms, and others still leading to new areas. While you start your career with just a set of daggers and a bow, exploring these areas helps you upgrade that equipment (you can swap out the daggers and bow for items that better suit your fighting style).

    At the same time, you will find medallions that provide benefits to you and your attacks. You can pick up four of these at a time, and their location in your inventory affects their upgrade level and efficiency. You can replace everything you have with better items, so your build will constantly evolve.

    Of course, fighting and exploring aren’t the only things you can do. From time to time, you will come across smaller side quests; in these, you will need to traverse a specific route in order to talk to specific NPCs, obtain items from them, and use them. You’ll also discover rooms containing platforming puzzles that lead to equipment chests. Successful platforming through these areas will allow you to purchase the items in the chest at a shop to add them to the item pool for your runs.

    Since the game is early access, you might run into some issues. I had a handful of smaller issues, like accidentally getting stuck on something for a couple of seconds after silly platforming stunts. There was also an accident I experienced the second time I faced the second boss that discouraged me. My progress on that run wasn’t saved, leaving me to do it all over again. This is to be expected, but if you’re looking for perfection, I’d wait until the game has been fully officially released.

    Score: 4/5

    Platforms

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    When it comes to platforming, Rogue Prince of Persia is a well-oiled machine. It’s easily my favorite part of the game and the main factor that sets it apart from other Roguelites. The game areas are filled with vertical and horizontal areas to cross. Players can run along the walls in the background and climb the walls in the foreground. They can also climb up and down vertical poles, balance on horizontally placed poles, and run for extra momentum.

    Of course, these skills are not without limitations. The back walls contain many gaps that prevent players from wall running. Additionally, each platform skill can only be used for a certain distance at a time. To solve this, players will need to come up with the correct sequence of their skills for each situation. Sometimes it’s as easy as running up a wall followed by a sprint and a jump to grab a hanging pole. Other times it’s as complicated as running across a back wall, jumping against a foreground wall to scale it, jumping to scale the back wall, and repeating that process until you reach the top. It may be difficult at first, but it is something that those who put in the effort can easily master.

    Score: 5/5

    Replayability

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    Every great roguelite game can be played over and over again without becoming tedious. I was able to spend over 20 hours on the game without getting bored, so I can attest to its replayability. You’ll start each run wielding the double daggers and compound bow. However, every weapon, tool, and medallion you obtain during the run is completely randomized using what you have in your collections. This system allows you to create a unique build on each run, which makes the game more interesting.

    Replayability is enhanced by the existence of Team Rooms. Each level of the game contains equipment rooms, which require players to perform platforming feats in exchange for a new tool, weapon, or medallion. Items from these rooms will be added to Paachi’s store, where you can purchase them to add to your collection, allowing you to create more diverse builds. If that’s not enough, the smaller game missions mentioned above help spice up your game every time they appear.

    Score: 5/5

    Final verdict

    The way the Rogue Prince of Persia seamlessly blends acrobatics with combat and exploration makes it a joy to play. This is true even for people like me, who aren’t fans of platform games or just aren’t very good at them. It also draws its players in through its classic story, its replayability, and the way the Prince evolves as the story does. With all of this in mind, I’m excited to see what will be added to the game next.

    [Disclosure: A free copy of the game was provided to PGG by the publisher for review purposes.]

    If you’re looking to add more promising Roguelites to your library, check out First Impressions of Hades 2: A Big Step Up from an Already Masterful Game at MyFullGames.


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