The Rogue Prince Of Persia is a new roguelite that combines wall running with Arkham-style agile combat

By admin Apr15,2024

In news that will come as a complete shock to all of you, Ubisoft is partnering with Evil Empire to bring the world a new Prince Of Persia roguelite – though according to Matthew Houghton, Evil Empire’s marketing manager, this has been in the works since a post-conference meeting conversation in 2021. Called The Rogue Prince Of Persia, a name choice that makes it sound a bit like an illegal knockoff being sold out of the back of Evil Empire’s Peugeot, I got to have a go of about 45 minutes of it last week. It’s 2D, side on platforming, and super colourful. Think Dead Cells skinned as a kids cartoon with a branded cereal tie-in, extremely cool music, and an emphasis on wall running. It’s mobile even by the standards of a platformer, in fact, and is entering Steam early access on May the 14th.

The set up is that the prince’s kingdom has been attacked by the Hun, as it is wont to be, and he will live, die, and live again in efforts to defeat the invading army of shrieking skull-faced degenerates. Every time you die your progress is reset as you wake up back at your oasis camp in the desert, the hub from which you can travel to different game areas. Your foray into, say, the ransacked village level varies each time, as the map’s combination of ledges, walls, spike pits, moving saws, and crumbling platforms is jigsawed together in a different rhythm. This means it stays fresh enough to not get boring – at least for 45 minutes.

There will always be enemies, ranging in the preview from patrolling normies with a hand axe, to big heavy boys armed with a shield who – to my rage but delight at the design – would know if you were chilling out on a ledge above them and poke you right in the bum, to what I mentally termed ‘eagle bastards’, who camped on ledges and swung at you if you jumped towards them. There were patrolling demon dogs, ranged attack bow-lads, and hench dual-wielding damage dealers, and all of them came in Now With Shield! improved flavour that gave them a whole other health bar to get through before I could shred them with my weapons.

The prince in The Rogue Prince Of Persia sliding down an aqueduct
Image credit: Ubisoft/Evil Empire

Fighting through a level in The Rogue Prince Of Persia

The prince resurrecting in The Rogue Prince Of Persia

Image credit: Ubisoft/Evil Empire

Weapons are another thing that you can change up between runs, and like most other roguelikes, bettering your build is important. You can trade your double daggers (quick! Prince-of-Persia-y!) for a heavy axe (slow, but fucks ’em up!), or replace your secondary attack, which defaults to a bow, with a chakram that deals less damage but goes through more enemies. Medallions are rare finds that modify active abilities to give passive buffs. I found one that threw out daggers on my dash, and another that applied fire damage on my kick, and yet a third that stunned enemies on breaking a block. It felt almost Vampire Survivors-esque in the stacking synergies you could build, but also in how frequently I biffed it and died just when I’d got a juicy combination.

I’m not super great at your Ori-likes or your Celestes or, indeed, your Dead Cells, because my reactions are miswired. I will react, but panic and just press any button instead of the correct one. In The Rogue your Prince is, as you’d hope, super agile and acrobatic and quick. He can kick – which became my favourite move in the preview, for obvious reasons, especially when you can punt an enemy directly into a spike wall – he can regular attack, special attack, ranged attack (governed by a multi-chunk energy bar) dash-dodge, jump, stomp from above, and wall run both up and along any wall behind him. Thus there were many ways for me to panic and fling the Prince off a ledge and into some spikes, or the oncoming fist of a monster.

A boss fight in The Rogue Prince Of Persia against a large red goat demon
Thirsty work
The first boss fight. Health is restored by drinking water, and you can only carry a limited number of vials of it with you. Plus you can only carry them if you find them, and they’re hidden around levels too. If you don’t have any when you enter the boss fight, you’re shit out of luck. And water.Image credit: Ubisoft/Evil Empire

It’s a double-edged shamshir, because as bad as I was at the traversal I recognise the good points, and that exploration is to be encouraged. By doing so I met an NPC who told me about the nearby enemy camp, which opened up a whole other map area to explore from my hub, and found stores to buy new weapons and abilities. Exploration is also the way to find glowing doorways that lead to back areas, where you are challenged with more difficult platforming, with more spikes than safe patches, in exchange for finding a cool medallion to equip. These weren’t worth it for me, a bad platformer, because I sacrificed much of my precious health bar in each attempt. I faired much better in straight combat, where the many options for murdering my foes – leaping, sliding and stabbing – entered a flow state that reminded me of the combat in Batman: Arkham.

This did not mean, however, that I was good enough to beat the first boss, a huge, goatlike demon who was the end point of the demo, and in fact I only got as far as him once. Between the oasis and him I saw the village and the aqueduct, dusty and orange and blue and damp, respectively, as well as the enemy camp (which tended towards the purple). When The Rogue launches into early access next month the story will, Houghton said, have ‘a hard stop’, but more levels will appear throughout the early access period. The core experience, though, won’t change much at this point, and it’s a roguelite experience I’d describe as very mobile and combat heavy. The Rogue Prince Of Persia probably won’t be for the butterfingers among you.

By admin

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