Review: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

“It Rewinds well, doesn’t quite fastfoward enough”

Ubisoft endeared itself to gamers everywhere in 2003 with the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The game blended incredible acrobatic feats with enthralling and energetic combat and it also of course, introduced the concept of Rewind. The Prince had the ability to rewind time which added a fascinating and dynamic change to gameplay, and it became a trademark of the trilogy that eventually spawned. There have been other Prince games, including the fascinating 2008 Prince. We now come to 2010 and we have The Forgotten Sands. 

Concept: A game in the continuity of the original trilogy, set between Sands of Time and Warrior Within. It does not share many of the old gameplay mechanics and instead is more like its own unique game. Players take control of the Prince, heading to his brother Malik’s kingdom, only to find that it is under siege and his brother, running out of options must make a hasty decision. 

Graphics: Don’t expect to be overly amazed by the visuals. There is a lack of distinct colors in this sandy Persian backdrop. Character models look good and are very well animated, but again, there is not much that challenges graphical precedents. Water looks nice and if the Prince gets wet, it’ll drip off him and he’ll shake it off. What is impressive to some extent is that the game runs very smoothly when there are many enemies on screen at once. No frame rate hiccups or anything. Another good mark is that the pre-rendered cutscenes in the game do look very, very good. The game’s camera follows the Prince around very well, changing angles as you’re tackling precarious platforming tasks. On rare occasions, it can be a problem, making certain movements or maneuvers tougher than they should be. 

Sound: The score the accompanies the game can sometimes be tough to notice. This is because it’s not always there. There are many quiet moments, which following certain cutscenes, feel appropriate. The music that does play is well done, and accompanies the dramatic moments you would expect with uplifting enthusiasm. The most impressive track to me, was the one playing on the pause screen, believe it or not. Very soothing and addicting. The voice acting in the game is solid but not amazing. It could easily go unnoticed if you, like me, hadn’t played Sands of Time in a long while, but the voice of the Prince is actually the same from Sands of Time. Yes, Yuri Lowenthal reprises his role and while it’s not award winning stuff, it’s a very good and respectable performance. The other voices in the game are also fairly good. 

Gameplay: One feature of this game being touted early on was that it would in some form, return to the original trilogy’s gameplay and reintroduce the Rewind ability. While the game does take place in the Sands of Time continuity and Rewind is back, you’ll notice a lot of gameplay differences between the trilogy and this game. It’s best to do what I did and look at this game as its own separate incarnation of the Prince. Sort of like most Zelda games change its Link, make gameplay tweaks, and so on. 

Your classic Prince of Persia acrobatics are back. The Prince can leap gracefully from a wall run to a beam, to a flagpole and make it look easy. Like in previous games, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes with this. This is especially true as you progress further in the game and the various powers the Prince acquires make the platforming sequences mini puzzles. They force the player to plan things out, knowing how they will jump from one obstacle to the next, knowing full well they have to react quickly with the proper reflexes, as one slow or incorrect button press can lead to death. 

Making these sequences more challenging are the incredibly fun powers of Rewind, Flow, and two others. Rewind is a very welcome sight for fans of the original trilogy, allowing the player to turn back time and undo mistakes. Flow is a new power however, granting the Prince the ability to stop time for water, solidifying water spouts into poles and columns he can climb across. It becomes extremely satisfying near the end of the game when you have to wall run over a waterfall, jump to
a swing bar, jump to it to a wall, rebound between that wall and another, climb onto a frozen water column, then jump through a waterfall. All the while, you have to manage and time your uses of the powers to properly get from point A to point B. When you land safely on solid ground, you may very well utter out a “wow.” 

The combat in the game is a perfect example of change in this entry however. It starts off very slow and easy, but soon, you will find yourself encumbered by whole hordes of enemies at once. Initially, it feels like all you need to do is just slash, kick, and dodge. While there is a certain strategy in using these moves properly, it’s not until the Prince gains his elemental powers do the battles begin to involve more tactics and challenge. When acquired, the powers are mapped out to a direction on the D-Pad and can be used with just one press, provided the Prince has an energy slot available. The Prince can use fire and ice to deal extra damage, or earth to shield himself, and wind to knock his enemies away. Each power has its own strategy involved and this can become integral for individual battles and situations, allowing the player to decide what the best moves to use are. Rewind also uses an energy slot, and this can let the player undo large losses of the Prince’s health bar, so some consideration has to be put into what to spend that energy on in battle. For the most part, the Prince targets each enemy properly, going where you point the Left Analog Stick at, even when many surround him at once.

Defeating these enemies allows you to gain XP to purchase more upgrades for your powers or sword attacks. The option of choice given to the player is a nice one, but it doesn’t offer full freedom. You are bound to certain choices as certain upgrades are out of reach until you purchase previous ones. 

And finally, the boss battles are… well, disappointing in a way. You can argue only the main “baddie” of the game is the real boss, and everything else that is similar are just mini-bosses. Either way, they are the same type of enemy and behave exactly the same. They also have one fatal weakness and strategy the player can employ to beat them with very little challenge or difficult involved. This makes these big fights all feel somewhat similar. The game doesn’t make itself about boss fights though, so it’s possible to not get too upset about this. Also, to the game’s credit, the final fight is a very unique one, albeit somewhat simple, but offering a decent challenge to close out the game. 

Story: The story in this game follows the Prince on his way to the kingdom of his brother, Malik. Under siege and overrun, Malik makes a choice to unleash Solomon’s Army. This turns out to be a grave and fateful decision, as the army turns on him and his men, and begins to ravage the fortress. Now, the Prince and Malik are separated, each holding a half of the medallion that may seal the army back in. They’re both trapped inside with the army, but the quest to reunite the medallion does not go as planned for the Prince. 

The story of this game will not leave any dramatic or emotional marks on you. The plot is relatively simple and you can see where it’s going about halfway through, but you still have enough interest to see exactly how it ends, and to the game’s credit, the ending does invoke a certain reaction, but it’s nothing particularly memorable. It has an obvious theme that I won’t spoil, and you get an idea of how it will end. Still, it moves the game along and the story or cutscenes do not feel like heavy interruptions of the gameplay. No scenes drag on and they have good dialogue and even a few spectacular events.

Replay Value: Not much, sadly. If you’re interested in gaining everything, upgrading all the Prince’s powers to max, a second playthrough is necessary. After that though, you can play once more for fun and that’s probably all you’ll want to do. It has an automatic New Game+ feature, where every New Game will just carry over your upgrades from the last. The lack of a save slot feature was a bit of a vexation for me. It was nothing major, but the ability to have save slots would not only allow the player to start completely over from scratch if they chose, but also let them go back to certain moments instead of starting over. The game is also a bit on the short side, and you can finish it in a few short days. This may constitute a rental for some, but if you’re a big Prince of Persia fan, you can maybe consider a purchase. The game does offer a challenge mode but even this won’t take terribly long to complete. 

The Good
-The familiar is good with the same acrobatic platforming flair and a good sense of accomplishment in these
-New powers like Flow add a very exciting and even puzzle-like challenge to the platforming
-The combat is revamped but does hold its own and is actually quite challenging at times
-The elemental powers offer a fun way to spice up combat, giving the player different ways to tackle hordes of enemies
-Graphics are solid and the pre-rendered cutscenes look great. Nothing groundbreaking, but still pleasing to the eye
-Upgrade system is a nice addition to the gameplay, lending the player some choice in how they develop 
-Rewind

The Bad
-The story doesn’t really have enough twists and turns or development to really stand out
-With the exception of the final fight, most of the bosses are relatively the same and easy to beat
-Occasional platforming hiccups, glitches, and other bugs, if they crop up, can be an annoyance
-On the short side and the replay value isn’t very high

The Final Verdict

Score: 7 out of 10

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