Key Art for The Rouge: Prince of Persia
Image by Ubisoft

Prince of Persia Meets Dead Cells in The Rogue: Prince Of Persia [Preview]

A hybrid-effort by Evil Empire and Ubisoft has quickly become one of my most anticipated games.

On April 4, 2024, I was invited to attend an online preview for a then-unannounced Ubisoft Roguelite Digital Preview. After going hands-on for 30 minutes with The Rogue: Prince of Persia, I was left eager, excited, and ready to dive into the game when it fully releases, and I’m happy to share my early impressions of this upcoming title.

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What is The Rogue: Prince of Persia?

The Rogue: Prince of Persia is a collaborative effort between Evil Empire — the team behind Dead Cells and many of its DLC additions — and Ubisoft to bring the Prince of Persia franchise to a new genre. While initially skeptical of how well the gameplay of PoP would translate into a Roguelite, I left this hands-on preview thoroughly impressed.

After a brief introduction by the Ubisoft team to The Rogue: Prince of Persia, I was given 30 minutes to experiment with the game. I wasn’t sure what to originally expect, especially since the last Prince of Persia title I played was the self-titled reboot from 2008, but I was eager to see what the team had put together.

Although our session was done through remote play, the controls and combat were both what I wanted — smooth, snappy, and precise. With a primary attack scheme consisting of three buttons, I had complete control over the Prince’s main attack, a secondary attack, as well as a powerful kick that could be used to knock enemies away from my location or plummet to their doom off of a ledge.

In addition to the standard attacks I was able to pull off, a variety of moves that could be used on a vertical plane were also available to me. While my preferred weapon in this session was a standard sword, other weapons can be purchased during a run alongside plenty of buffs and other unique items, much akin to Dead Cells. The melding of genres is surprisingly on point, with familiar items being revamped to fit the Prince of Persia theme and still feeling unique.

It wouldn’t be a proper Prince of Persia game without the iconic Wall-Run, a feature that is implemented perfectly here. While combat may be one of the many ways that I could have met my demise, tricky platforming sections are peppered throughout the tightly woven stages to provide an ample challenge to even the most dedicated of Roguelike fans.

Story details, while sparse at the time of the preview, gave me my first look into the eyes of the new Prince, the reason for his ability to come back to life to try again after his failures, and what he is hoping to protect have me intrigued but not entirely sold just yet. That being said, this was a fairly brief time to play and learn about this upcoming title — things are bound to change before the full release.

A Change Of Formula Goes Surprisingly Well

Video by Ubisoft

The sights and sounds of The Rogue: Prince of Persia had to have been one of my favorite parts of the hands-on preview. Beautifully rendered backgrounds played hand in hand with the fluid animations of the characters themselves, but the star of the show here had to be the soundtrack. I’m already drooling in anticipation for it to be on Spotify or somewhere I can stream it, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since my preview time.

The Prince of Persia franchise has always had some of the best music in gaming, but The Rogue: Prince of Persia takes things to a whole new level, in my personal opinion. While it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, the electrifying soundtrack made exploration just as exhilarating as the combat. Each area that I was able to visit — a main hub and two different levels of my choosing — provided a taste of the tunes in store, and they were delectable, to say the least.

Voice acting, at least in the build that I was allowed to play, was mostly non-existent outside of the occasional mumble and grumble from NPC characters. You’ll also hear the standard clash of swords and the agonizing pangs of death from those who have just been defeated — no matter if it was an enemy or the Prince, himself.

We can’t leave without discussing the graphics, which emulate a hand-drawn style in a 3D plane. At first, I have to admit — I wasn’t sold on the changeover from the more realistic tones of the series past, but as I played more and more, I began to love the general look and feel. Yes, it’s slightly ironic coming from someone who also played and loved the 2008 reboot, but the more simplistic look and feel is quite clean in motion.

Animations are fluid and string together well, even in some of the more fast-paced sections of The Rogue. Switching from a wall run to a grab to a climb to combat is fast, smooth, and responsive — all that I could have asked for in a game such as this. I still have questions as to why The Prince is purple, but I’m hoping we get more context on that in the future.

Colors are vibrant and pop off the screen, no matter where I could find myself exploring. Both teams have done a stellar job of bringing this world to life with an art style, unlike anything I had personally seen before. Much like Dead Cells, it’s a game that gets more visually impressive the more that you play it.

When Can You Get Your Hands on The Rogue: Prince of Persia?

Even while playing, I couldn’t shake the thought of stopping. I wanted to keep going, perfecting every run and making sure that I could deliver the Prince to his destination as safely as possible. The tight combat, stellar soundtrack, and general vibe of the game had me itching for more — and I’m happy to say that it won’t be long until I can play again.

The Rogue: Prince of Persia will enter Early Access on May 14, 2024. It will be available on Steam, as well as Ubisoft Connect with more platforms likely coming down the pipeline in the future. Evil Empire and Ubisoft are releasing the game in Early Access while continuing to build upon what is there while taking Community Feedback into account to make the game the best it can be. This may sound familiar to those who have played Dead Cells previously, as Evil Empire molded it into one of the best Rougelikes available.

At the end of my session, I was immediately ready to jump back in — but my remote connection was ended before I got the opportunity to do so. Needless to say, I’ve already marked the Early Access date on my calendar, and if my boss sees a sick-day notification come through, it’s totally not so I can play this all day.

The Rogue: Prince of Persia releases in Early Access on May 14, 2024, for PC.


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Author
Shaun Cichacki
As a fan of RPGs, Action & Retro titles, Shaun has been gaming since he was a young boy. With an overwhelming obsession involving Metal Gear Solid and Pizza Tower, you know you're in for a wild ride when it comes to things he's writing about.