The Rogue Prince of Persia (Early Access)

Posted:  May 27, 2024
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Review

The Rogue Prince of Persia was provided by Ubisoft for review. Thank you!

This game is currently in early access and content, as well as performance, is subject to change during development.

Prince of Persia is an iconic franchise. Ever since its original Apple II release, the franchise has expanded exponentially, creating sequels, multiple reboots, and even a movie. We recently had another reboot for the series with The Lost Crown, which is fantastic, and today, we have a new entry into the series that reimagines the game with a roguelike spin, and it works perfectly. The Rogue Prince of Persia is a great entry into the series, and even though it is in early access, the potential is there. I can't wait to see how developer Evil Empire expands it further.

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Visually, the game is stunning. It uses a more cartoony but very colorful design that shines when you run through it. The Rogue Prince of Persia is semi-detailed, not going too overboard and striking a nice balance that makes it a joy to run through the world. Currently, the game has six different biomes, each feeling unique from the other and providing some interesting gameplay systems that fit with the themes. I love the aesthetic they went with, and it fits perfectly on a portable screen.

The Rogue Prince of Persia does focus on the story more than other roguelikes. You are a prince trying to reclaim his kingdom from the Huns after he was absent during the attack. On run after run, you will find and gather friends and allies who will help you reclaim the throne and stop them. The premise is emboldened by the Prince's inability to die, so he is sent back in time to 3 days after the invasion to keep trying to stop them.

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Each character in the hub has their own story to tell, making it interesting to talk to them, and I love the mechanic behind the roguelike aspect of the game. The Prince going back in time means he has to relive the onslaught over and over, and due to him feeling guilty about not being present to help fight back, he has to face the mistake he made and see the consequences of his actions. This will be developed further in the future, but it's a great premise that I am looking forward to seeing expanded.

Then, we have the gameplay, which feels amazing. Like other 2D platformers/roguelikes, you will go from one end of the level to the other, killing enemies, getting currency, upgrading yourself, dying, and repeating the process again. However, even in its early access state, The Rogue Prince of Persia feels very polished thanks to the abilities you have to traverse and kill enemies.

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Instead of just dodging, jumping, and attacking, we can use the environment and parkour-like abilities to get rid of the Huns and get around the level. We can wall run, which allows us to get higher up than normal, and vaulting, which acts like a dodge and has you propel yourself over their head, which can open up an attack window for you. We can also kick enemies into each other to stun them or even into environmental traps like spikes. Using all of these in tandem helps you set up awesome combinations of attacks, like kicking someone into another one standing on a pole, and they both fall and die. The way these all work together makes the entire experience feel significantly more fluid and enjoyable to be a part of.

You have one main weapon, which can use basic and special attacks, and one ranged weapon, which uses energy to fire. Energy is replenished when you take down foes or get upgrades that reward you for doing certain actions. As you play, you will find these upgrades or medallions that can augment your abilities, as well as newer and more powerful weapons. You will get two types of currency as you play as well: Money that can be used at in-run shops (and disappear once you die) and Spirit Glimmers, which is a currency that sticks with you when you die and can unlock new medallions and weapons to find when you are going through levels.

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The Rogue Prince of Persia does have some areas it can improve on, though. The currency and upgrade mechanics are interesting, but it also doesn't feel like there's growth or improvement in each run. This makes it feel more like you have to hope your upgrades that appear on the run are in your favor to succeed versus you slowly improving your stats to get further. For a roguelike, it is a bit weird. The game is also a bit light on content and can feel a little repetitive, but overall, the gameplay does hold out, and I still enjoyed it. With the game in early access, I am sure these will be fixed or expanded on as the game develops.

And, even if it isn't perfect, this is a great title to play on the Steam Deck.

The Rogue Prince of Persia - Steam Deck Performance

The game is in Early Access, which means performance is subject to change throughout the course of development. This assessment is based on the first public release of the game.

When it comes to Early Access titles, I don't expect flawless Steam Deck performance right out of the gate. I understand that it takes time to get updates and optimize further, which is the case for 99% of Early Access games. The Rogue Prince of Persia is one of them, but it runs extremely well 95% of the time, with some small hiccups here and there.

In this case, we can actually hit 60 FPS throughout most areas in the game. It runs like butter and feels wonderful to play, but we do have an issue that can cause framerate drops. In some biomes, walking around or fighting clusters of enemies did drop the performance down to the low 50s or high 40s. This happened more when fighting versus walking around, but it still happened. It occurred often enough for me to want a more stable experience, and after setting my framerate to 45, I found it. I had no drops, battery life went down, and all was good. It does make the game feel slightly less smooth, but I really enjoyed it. I would say you can still play at 60, as long as you are okay with some drops, but I went for a 100% stable rate.

There is one other problem that is present: Microstutters. No matter the framerate/refresh rate, the game suffers from small microstutters that happen as you play. I wouldn't say it is extremely jarring while you are playing, but if you really try to pay attention to it, you will feel the stutters. Nothing I tried fixed it, so I believe this will be something that the team patches throughout Early Access. Thankfully, it doesn't make the game unplayable, and I had a blast going through it.

One thing to note is there are no graphical settings to change right now either. So, all we can do to optimize is change framerate/refresh rate, set a TDP limit, and force resolution with Steam. I don't recommend forcing a resolution since the game doesn't benefit massively from it and you will want it to be as sharp as possible.

Accessibility

As far as accessibility, the game currently has a specific section where you can turn on color blind modes for Duetanopia, Protanopia, and Tritanopia, toggle rumble/vibration, change screenshake intensity, and increase or decrease dialogue and item text size.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions, so there won't be any black bars, and it has both controller and cloud save support. There are no HDR settings.

Conclusion

The Rogue Prince of Persia is a fantastic showcase of how great this series could be as a roguelike. The art style and story, combined with the polished and tight gameplay, show a ton of potential for the early access title. It is a bit lacking in content, and the progression systems aren't the greatest, but I believe this could easily be fixed throughout development. Playing on the Steam Deck is great, too, and it works well so far, but it will need some optimizations further down the line. But I have a feeling this will be a necessary title to add to your portable library in the future.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

The Rogue Prince of Persia shows a ton of potential with its polished gameplay and gorgeous visuals, as well as decent Steam Deck performance on release.

Content

Gameplay: 
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Graphics: 
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Story: 
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Sound: 
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Fun Factor: 
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Build Score

Performance: 
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VISUALS: 
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Stability: 
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Controls: 
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Battery: 
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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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2 comments on “The Rogue Prince of Persia (Early Access)”

  1. Ubisoft doesn't deserve money for early access. This is just a Hades rip off further degrading the prince of Persia franchise. Ubisoft does not know what they're doing with this franchise and it shows. Last game was underwhelming, this one looks even more so.

    1. I don't agree with a lot of what Ubisoft does, personally. But I don't see how this game is anything like Hades. It's a 2D Platformer for one, not an isometric dungeon crawler.

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