The Rogue Prince of Persia is a worthy contender to Dead Cells' roguelite throne

The Rogue Prince of Persia is a worthy contender to Dead Cells' roguelite throne
Images via Ubisoft | Evil Empire

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes


10th Apr 2024 18:45

Some things just go together perfectly, don't they? Peanut butter and jam, bacon and egg, Assassin's Creed and map markers.

As it turns out, gaming's next greatest double act could be the one that makes the most sense - what if you take one of the most iconic platforming franchises in gaming history, and pair it with the developers of indie rogue-lite royalty?

The answer to that question is The Rogue Prince of Persia, a new rogue-like 2D platformer from Evil Empire, whose previous project was none other than Dead Cells. I was lucky enough to go hands-on with an early build.

Another one?

Rogue Prince of Persia gameplay screenshot showing the Prince speaking
Click to enlarge

Not to be confused with Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown which launched earlier this year (and remains a favourite among the GGRecon team), The Rogue Prince of Persia will arrive next month as a Steam early access title that's a roguelike take on the series.

Much like Dead Cells, players will move from left to right (and often up and down), battling soldiers and more supernatural foes and earning fun upgrades with which to improve their Prince. Die, and you head back to the start, but you'll get to carry some things over to your next run.

None of this is groundbreaking, but Evil Empire's work here is elevated by an art style that's all its own. It's cartoonish, but with an almost purposeful lack of detail and a bluish, purple hue to many of its environments that showcases a side of Prince of Persia we've not seen before - and the series has a long history of great-looking visual themes.

Rogue Prince of Persia gameplay screenshot showing exploration
Click to enlarge

I played some opening areas as the Prince races home to save his kingdom from invasion, hopping across orange desert crags, through the city's aqueducts, and through a bandit camp - aside from the visuals, Rogue Prince of Persia's soundtrack may go harder than any in 2024 so far.

From the sludgy, almost dubstep-like distortion of the bandit camp, to more traditional West Asian instruments tied together with slick percussion, it all fits, and perhaps most importantly, it amps up the combat and traversal.

A new dimension

Rogue Prince of Persia gameplay screenshot showing wallrunning
Click to enlarge

While Rogue Prince of Persia is still 2D in its core design, the series' iconic wall-run move adds a genuine twist to just about every aspect of gameplay.

You can wall-run anywhere there's a background wall, using it to chain multiple jumps together or cross huge distances without touching the ground. It sounds like a relatively small thing in a platformer where you're always moving anyway, but in areas where that wall is removed and wall-running is no longer an option, you'll really notice it.

Without it, this is arguably more Dead Cells - and that's about the strongest compliment I can give. Combat feels slick, and switching weapons from the starting twin daggers to an axe or sword feels like an impactful choice. At least as far as I saw, there are no doors to smash through, but you can kick enemies 300 style into spikes and other traps.

Rogue Prince of Persia gameplay screenshot showing combat
Click to enlarge

Naturally, there are plenty of upgrades to earn, either through chests found while exploring or through purchasing them at your camp. As with its predecessor in the Evil Empire stable, these tie nicely to your move set, letting you burn enemies hit by a kick, or trigger poison clouds when taking damage.

All of this coalesces into something approaching the flow state you find in the finest Metroidvanias, as you swoop through an area, eliminating enemies and then moving between platforms like a carefully choreographed move. In fact, there were a few times when I completed a platforming or combat challenge and sort of snapped back into the room surprised I'd been controlling any of it.

Final Thoughts

I came away from my brief play session with Rogue Prince of Persia convinced that this could be something special. If Ubisoft and Evil Empire can nurture it through Early Access on Steam, I firmly believe that its mix of combat, platforming, and the wall-running that can tie them together will make it a contender to Dead Cells, and a worthy continuation of that game's legacy.

Time will tell, of course, but the early signs are very promising.

Previewed on PC via streaming.

Lloyd Coombes
About the author
Lloyd Coombes
Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.
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