Very few developers go back to an already finished series to make a new game, especially after rebooting said series to take it into an entirely new direction. 2008’s Prince of Persia was a love or hate kind of game, but it did sell well enough to warrant a sequel. What do we get instead? Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, a game that returns us to the Sands of Time “trilogy” once again. Although this game is technically a movie tie-in, it is not based on the Sands of Time film. It is, however, an enjoyable game that has plenty of fun moments, but does not live up to that original trilogy.
The presentation in Forgotten Sands is solid, bringing us back to the time when the Prince and his world were not cel-shaded. The opening cutscene is gorgeous, but from there we basically get rather standard graphics some with neat effects. The Prince himself has had a re-design, and he looks…ugly, to say the very least. Sound design is good, and the voice acting definitely lives up to the standards you would expect from the series. The game’s presentation may be lacking compared to some modern games, but that does not make it bad by any means.
The story manages to do a decent enough job filling the gap between 2003’s Sands of Time and 2004’s Warrior Within. At the very least, you will get a good enough idea of why the Prince became such a huge Godsmack fan. It’s nothing amazing, but it is definitely very reminiscent of Sands of Time; they even re-cast Yuri Lowenthal as the Prince, which goes to show the team cared about bringing the player back into that series. The Prince’s dialogue is as witty and enjoyable as it was in Sands of Time.
The gameplay is both excellent, meeting the standard of what you would expect from a Prince of Persia title, and sometimes rather monotonous. The platforming and puzzle solving sections are excellent, and the developers continue to find a way to make running along walls and avoiding traps new and exciting every time. The combat, on the other hand, is pretty simplistic and not terribly fun. It’s not bad, but considering how much combat there is in the game, it could have been a lot better.
In terms of the platforming, the Prince gets a couple of new powers as well as the classic rewinding time mechanic from the previous games. One new power you get is the ability to freeze water. It seems silly, but this new power is actually really cool and it allows for plenty of neat gameplay changes in the platforming.
They do have to allow for some incredibly convenient things to happen in the environment for this power to be truly effective. Yes, there happens to be drains pouring out water at equal distance from each other. And yes, using these streams of water leads the Prince to exactly where he needs to go next. I know it was necessary, and it’s really hard to question anything in this series at this point when the main mechanic is about reversing time, but it does leave me scratching my head.
The puzzle solving elements are all well done, and while the majority of them are not particularly challenging, they do use the Prince’s skills and powers in very unique ways every time. The platforming and puzzles are the reason you would play a Prince of Persia game, although the series has never been known for its compelling combat. Forgotten Sands is no exception, and despite a decent variety of enemies, you won’t be particularly enthralled by the waves of enemies you will find yourself facing off against.
There are new powers related to combat as well, four to be precise. A stone armor power that makes you invincible for a certain period of time, a whirlwind power that knocks all of your enemies down, and fire and ice powers that add…well, fire and ice to your attacks. The fire and ice powers are rather useless, but the whirlwind can be handy when surrounded, and the stone power is always useful.
It’s a shame that, aside from the stone armor, you rarely find yourself using the others. That particular power just makes the game too easy, since you become invincible for a limited amount of time. You also gain experience from defeating enemies, so you can increase your health and your abilities using a rather limited skill tree system. You will never find yourself upgrading any of your powers except for the stone armor, and even that really never needs upgrading. And with constant checkpoints, you’ll be hard pressed to find any real challenge in the game, even on the highest difficulty setting.
As always, Ubisoft Montreal has nailed the controls perfectly. You are given many different gameplay mechanics to mess around with this time around, and later on you will find yourself relying on many of them at once. This all works wonderfully together, with a control scheme that will feel very familiar to those who have played previous games in the series. The camera, on the other hand, seems to have a mind of its own at times, especially during combat.
One last downer this game presents: the numerous technical hiccups and glitches, some of which will cause you to die inexplicably (even during cutscenes) or just cause the Prince to get caught in walls or the ground. These problems do indicate a clear lack of polish that would have done this game well if it was not inevitably rushed out to be released in time for the movie.
If you can look past the middling combat, some questionable gameplay additions, and various technical issues, The Forgotten Sands is an enjoyable entry in the Prince of Persia series that will please fans of the Sands of Time trilogy. This is a title that is at least worth a rental for those looking to spend once last weekend with the Sands of Time series.
Pros: Amazing platforming sections; solid controls; very clever puzzles; new powers add a lot to the gameplay
Cons: Combat is too simplistic; some new abilities are useless; wonky camera; odd technical issues and glitches