Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is almost the perfect Prince of Persia game – weak combat does it in.
New powers & abilities
Weak combat system
Game too easy in some phases
Finally the Prince returns to the Sands of time time line in an epic journey that leaves you wanting more! However the return of the Prince doesn’t seem as smooth as you’d like it to be. The initial parts feel like the game offers nothing new; and fans of the franchise will easily recognize this – which is not necessarily a bad thing to have, but it could have been done much better. . The opening level, in which you try to break into a castle under attack, borrows heavily from the opening sequence of its predecessor, and it seems as if the predictable level design is a portent of things to come. The Forgotten Sands does break free from its inspiration after a few hours, but that doesn’t excuse the forgettable introduction.
The story in The Forgotten Sands focuses on the sibling rivalry between the prince and his brother. At one point in their lives, they got along perfectly fine, but relationships tend to crumble when demonic possession rears its head. Although the story is clichéd, there is a certain charm in the manner it’s told. The prince narrates the events during the action, and his personality interjects some lighthearted fun into the proceedings.
I for one am glad the open world system is gone, keeping the game linier turns out to be one of the game’s strengths. Each of the stages builds on what came before it, continually blending new techniques with your core abilities to create something special. Like in previous games, the prince starts out with the power to run along walls, leap between posts, and slide down dangling banners. But there is so much more to making your way from one point to the other than that modest list indicates. Your original moves are tweaked throughout the game, twisting the basic concepts to produce something unique. You may get in the habit of running along a wall and jumping off with casual ease, but when a quickly closing door forces you to speed things up, you need to approach this basic maneuver from a different angle. This reinvention of established themes keeps the platforming sections consistently thrilling.
But you must know what makes this game really tick is the moves unlocked during the course of the game. The first and most widely used is the ability to freeze water. Waterfalls and leaking spigots can be frozen with the push of a button, creating walls and pillars of ice for you to climb upon. Initially, these water-based puzzles provide only an aesthetic twist to the standard platforming, but once you understand the basics, things become a lot more interesting. You often need to freeze and unfreeze water in midair, making it possible to leap between geysers that are not synced or crash through a wall of water that was frozen solid just a moment earlier. You unlock new abilities as you go through the adventure, and these are all mixed seamlessly together to keep you continually on your toes. And because many of the puzzles require you to adapt on the fly to new obstacles with pinpoint precision, it’s an empowering feeling to make it past a particularly difficult stretch.
Outside of platforming, there are a few puzzles, mostly the turn the crank variety…and there are brief combat sequences, though these are sadly the weakest portions of the game. The combat feels klunky and you’ll ending button mashing. You unlock new moves through an experience system, and it is fun to tweak your abilities to your fighting style. However, instead of giving the combat more depth, the abilities just make it easier to kill your enemies. Overall the fighting mechanism doesn’t pick up from the finesse of the sands of time trilogy, which is a little disappointing. Mercifully, there isn’t a lot of fighting during the adventure, but what is there only serves as a detour from the otherwise fun experience.
There are challenge rooms to complete after you finish off the final boss, but because these focus on the forgettable combat rather than the exhilarating platforming, they add little to the overall experience. But where the combat falters in The Forgotten Sands, the platforming rises in its place, delivering the exquisite level design and breathtaking acrobatics for which the series is known. The prince’s new abilities add unexpected wrinkles to the standard jumping and running, continually tossing in new ideas to keep you transfixed until the thrilling final sequence. There will be plenty of moments when you’ll go “oooh! Classic Prince!”… I’d love the name this best Prince of Persia game ever…but sadly the annoyances of the camera angles and the diluted combat system keep it from getting there. But it’s still a must have, must play. Highly recommended!
We give it a 4/5
The PC version is releasing on the 8th of June. Stay tuned for a PC exclusive review.