Ten years ago Ubisoft bought the rights to the Prince of Persia franchise. They hired on the original developer of the game and got to work on a master re-imaging of the series. The result was overwhelming praise from everyone. Everyone who played the game loved it and bragged about how great it was.
Despite this, the market reported something really different. Despite being one of the greatest games ever made, it only saw 3.5M sales. To compare Halo: Combat Evolved saw 6.5M sales.
When Halo 2 came out their sales doubled. When Prince of Persia: Warrior Within saw almost half as many sales as the original game.
The Prince of Persia “Sands” franchise saw roughly 1,000,000 devoted fans which was enough to keep pushing out titles, but not enough to improve the series.
Eventually they decided that they would “refresh” the series again and in 2007 we saw a re-imagining with a brand new art style.
I have to say this new art style is absolutely breathtaking.
So why did this game overwhelmingly do so poorly?
This review is a list of gaming defects that stop the game from being the greatest puzzler that ever lived.
One of the major design elements of this game that has made massive waves in the industry is the idea that death was a mechanic designed to get children to throw quarters at an arcade machine.
So this game removed the sand dagger that would give you one chance to re-do what you just screwed up and gave you Elika, a Princess who had magical powers that would save you every single time you died.
This mechanic is excellent. Ever played I Wanna be the Guy or I Wanna Be the Boshy? These are really cheap looking indie titles that are hyper difficult but always set you to automatically re-appear every single time you die.
By having no death it means you can scale up that difficulty to ridiculous ways.
But Prince of Persia (whose franchise is known for hard games) didn’t scale up the difficulty one bit. The whole game you were being slow pitched and when you get to the difficult part of the game… it is very very short.
This was a huge lost opportunity here.
#2: Non-Linear Puzzle Game
Ask yourself this question, how many non-linear puzzle games are there out there.
If you’re left scratching your head the answer is, none. There are none… at least not successful ones.
The reason why puzzle games are linear is because they are supposed to scale up in difficulty over time allowing you to sequentially make things more complicated and make the solutions that much harder to get to.
But when you have a game that isn’t linear it means you have to slow ball pitch all the content to the player. It means there is no reasonable point for you to adjust that difficulty rating until you get to the end of the game.
There is a hipster gamer boogie man that cries how bad linear games are. In truth, many game formats just fit as being linear.
What can be non-linear is puzzle design and puzzle solutions. It is possible to have possibles that have multiple solutions.
HOWEVER, puzzles with multiple solutions tend to be easier and thus less fun for a puzzler.
#3: Lacking Puzzles
A puzzle game should have puzzles.
At first looks it would appear this is a jumping puzzle game. Almost all puzzle platformers involve getting in somewhere or getting out of somewhere. This game at its core should be a puzzle platformer in which you have to get somewhere. But it’s not. When you hit your magic button a path is revealed to you telling you exactly what path you have to use to get somewhere.
The pathing indicator was REALLY cool and really well implemented… but it took away from the solving bit. It meant that the actual puzzles which involved moving parts became the only puzzles.
And this game had three puzzles total. It just needed to have more puzzles and more stuff for people o try and solve.
Just having three puzzles wouldn’t have been so bad… if it didn’t only take me 2 minutes to solve each one.
#4: Dat Story
The most notorious thing about this game on PC is the story. If you play on console you get all this lovely DLC that makes the story better and expands it.
But if you played the game on PC, you are likely to just hate the story.
The game runs about 10 hours long. The story goes like this, 30 minutes in you find a man with his donkey named Farah (a throwback because Farah was the name of the woman from the original reboot). The man runs into the princess, saves her, and is enthralled in an adventure to stop an evil god.
9 hours take place in which nothing is really happening except for random shots of what is happening and a few back story elements to some villains.
And then you get to the end of the game in which the awful ending explains away everything in seconds.
It was just really really bad. On top of that… you are very likely going to be upset about the ending which was designed entirely to make DLC viable…. and there’s no DLC.
#5: No DLC
One of my biggest complaints about this game is… it’s actually a great game.
Yeah you didn’t see that one coming, did ya Internet
No it’s a really spectacular game that has no bugs, is really smooth, and the parkor and art style is amazing.
But with that being said the fact that there is no DLC on PC is very bad. The single DLC pack on console was really unpopular because of how difficult it was.
But had that DLC pack been tagged on to the game or given for free, the main game would have been far more worth playing.
But without the DLC available on PC, it’s not worth the time. If the entire game can be solved in less time than it takes to solve an average puzzle in another game… there’s a serious problem.
It’s a real shame that so many great game mechanics are gone to waste and that there couldn’t be another 30-40 hours worth of DLC available.
But that just ends up being the case.