Game Review: Prince of Persia (reboot)

October 17th, 2009

[Prince of Persia]( is the seventh 7th game in the main Prince of Persia series, and the 12th game overall.

Spoilers in this review, so you’ll have to click through.

It’s probably about the third good game in the series1.

A lot was written shortly after the game’s release about the lack of a ‘death’ mechanic – rather than falling to your death, for instance, you are magically rescued by the princess who travels with you in the game. But really all this does is make the flow of the game a little smoother – you still have to do the section yourself in order to actually proceed. The game isn’t particularly easy (although neither is it particularly hard), and I think that counting the number of times you ‘die’ as a metric of the difficulty of the game is a little silly.

The actual construction of the game is an interesting combination of open world and linear paths. The balance was cleverly managed, as I rarely felt like I was having to run through a long section in order to reach the next section of interest, but at the same time there was a feeling of a single coherent place. The clever mechanic of having you travel through some levels before you have the abilities required to unlock the objective is a good way of making you feel like this is a real place. This is a little let down by some of the level design, which takes away from the feeling this is real place when things have no apparent purpose other than being an interesting obstacle or puzzle.

The plot and background of the game is another good point, with the exception of the ending. The interaction between the main character (the prince, I suppose, although he never becomes one in this game) and the princess is very well written, and brings the relationship to life quickly and effectively.

But I had real problems with the end of the game. In brief, after spending the entire game jumping through hoops (sometimes literally) to clean up the mess created by the princes’s father releasing evil into the world in order to save her life, once this is completed you decide to release the evil back into the world in order to save her life (again). It felt out of character to me, it felt like it wasn’t properly foreshadowed. If it were a movie, or even a cut scene within the game, I would have had less objection to the plot development. But the game forces you to play through the actions to finish the game, effectively forcing you to be complicit in the decision. It’s like watching the bit of the movie where you’re screaming ‘don’t go that way you idiot’, but this time you’re the idiot and you don’t have any choice.

I think it’s a good thing for games that they can generate situations with this kind of complexity. And I’m glad I played the game, as it was quite thought provoking in its way. But the sequel (unannounced, but inevitable) is going to need to go quite a way to explain what happened at the end of this game.

  1. The other two I’d rate as good are the original and Sands of Time. Shadow and the Flame is almost good, and the less said about the others the better.