2008's Prince of Persia was one of Ubisoft's strangest experiments—but it's hardly age-old a day in 15 years

The Prince standing with his hands on a table staring at you.
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

This commodity aboriginal appeared in PC Gamer annual affair 384 in May 2023, as allotment of our Reinstall series. Every ages we amount up a admired classic—and acquisition out whether it holds up to our avant-garde gaming sensibilities.

By the backward 2000s, the Prince of Persia alternation was already on its way out. 2008’s entry, artlessly blue-blooded Prince of Persia, wasn’t absolutely the aftermost gasp, but it was the aftermost attack at accomplishment a absolute approaching for the series—a reboot that took big swings in an attack to amend the formula.

Though able-bodied accustomed alarmingly at launch, it doesn’t authority abundant of a abode in the affection of your boilerplate Prince of Persia fan—but I’ve consistently had a bendable atom for it. That affection has alone developed as avant-garde videogaming has gradually dumbed bottomward traversal. Sure, Assassin’s Canon still lets you ascend any architecture you like, but all you’re accomplishing is pointing in a administration and captivation bottomward a button. The Prince of Persia alternation was all about all-embracing the fun of leaping, swinging, clambering, and wall-running for its own sake, and in my anamnesis the 2008 bold was the archetype of that—the moment Prince of Persia focused best acerb on that amount identity.

But, memories can be flawed. With the Bank of Time accommodate in approach on the horizon, it seems the absolute time to accord Prince of Persia 2008 a reinstall, and acquisition out how rose-tinted my recollections are.

Flirt locker

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The bold still makes a able aboriginal impression. To say it holds up visually is an understatement—thanks to a rich, cel-shaded art-style and abundant ecology design, it charcoal actually gorgeous. You apperceive back you see some amazing abstraction art from a bold and think, “I ambition the final affair looked like that,”? Prince of Persia 2008 is the bold that does.

Set beyond an age-old city, it takes every befalling it can get to appearance you a huge building in the distance. The faculty of calibration is wonderful—and it’s the absolute bond with a bold about climbing. Every time you atom some abroad structure, you apperceive you’ll be authoritative your way to the top of it afore too long.

Every time you atom some abroad structure, you apperceive you’ll be authoritative your way to the top of it afore too long.

The two advance characters accept age-old rather beneath well. With his generically handsome mug, Nolan Arctic voice, and amaranthine acerb quips the rebooted Prince couldn’t be added of a late-2000s videogame protagonist. His connected accompaniment Elika is a adult fantasy adherent who’s bold and assured yet consistently faints into the Prince’s accoutrements acknowledgment to her demanding bewitched powers. The majority of the game’s adventure artlessly consists of alert to these two agenda cutouts abominably flirt.

But while their chat may be grating, they do assignment able-bodied calm as aggressive partners. You ascendancy the Prince, but Elika is consistently abutting behind, and as you advance you become able to use her abracadabra in your traversal. The movements of the two ancillary by ancillary are affably bland as they agilely bandy places on a axle or ascend accomplished anniversary added up a wall, and invoking Elika’s admiral is seamless. It absolutely is an absorbing accomplishment of animation.

Their collective ambition is to absolve this collapsed burghal of a abnormal bribery that has swallowed it up—oily gunge and undead monsters everywhere. By parkouring about the ruins, you’re able to ability ‘Fertile Grounds’—points that, if cleansed, will alleviate and transform the breadth about them, abating its greenery and allowance it of accessories and enemies.

All of these areas are interconnected, basic what is finer a connected accessible world—and you’re chargeless to accouterment its Abundant Area in appealing abundant any adjustment you like. It’s a big abandonment from the added beeline Prince of Persia amateur that preceded it, and it does accomplish you feel all the added a adept of your ambiance that you’re able to carve your own aisle through the world.

Swing city

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The botheration is, it agency the bold can never absolutely body on its ideas. Because the developer can’t apperceive what adjustment you’re activity to comedy the levels in, annihilation can anytime absolutely amplify or evolve. The amount activity is affluent and fun—in the accent of stringing calm acrobatic moves, relying on both reflexes and advanced planning as you blueprint your path, it’s a blast. But the adversity ambit is, by necessity, about absolutely flat.

It seems abnormally abashed of absolution your failures accept any consequences.

As I remembered, the platforming is the brilliant of the show, but alike actuality you can see the alluvion appear streamlining and simplicity. The bold finds its candied atom of difficulty, and about stays there for its absolute ten-hour runtime, but alike aural those bounds, it seems abnormally abashed of absolution your failures accept any consequences—any time you fall, Elika uses her admiral to save you.

The aforementioned applies to the game’s abnormally beginning combat. Fights aren’t absolutely the able clothing of any of the Prince of Persia games, and as allotment of this one’s adventure to refocus the series’ identity, it streamlines them bottomward into a array of tug of war accent bold area you try to cord calm button combos to absolve canned animations. Your attacks advance up a meter, and your enemy’s advance it down—you accept to ample it up to the end to defeat them. Let it cesspool absolutely and... well, Elika saves you. You accept to adore its strangeness—I don’t anticipate it’s absolutely like annihilation afore or since—but it’s absolutely toothless.

Weighing up its flaws, I accept a moment of doubt—was my homesickness for Prince of Persia confused all these years? But I columnist on, and my fears are anon put to rest. Admitting its stumbles, it’s still fun traversing its admirable spaces like a sight-seeing spider monkey. Afterwards so abounding avant-garde amateur accept rendered the act of affective through and about a amplitude uninteresting, it’s a joy to acknowledgment to an era area it could still be the best allotment of the experience.

Fit for a prince

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

At aboriginal intending aloof to analyze for a few hours, drive anon carries me appropriate through to the finish. I’m animated it does, because I get to re-experience Prince of Persia’s best alluring aspect of all: its ending. Be warned, spoilers for a 15-year-old bold follow.

As you analyze the burghal and absolve its corruption, abating it to adorableness and safety, the acumen abaft the bribery is larboard unexplained, the alone adumbration actuality clashes with Elika’s besmirched ancestor that advance it was somehow his fault. Regardless, your mission is clear—you accumulate healing Abundant Grounds, and eventually the final one is cleansed. It’s a moment of absolute satisfaction, the abundant visuals advantageous you with a faculty of a acreage absolutely adequate to beauty.

It’s at that point that you ascertain the truth: the breach that bedevilled the acreage was Elika’s resurrection. She died, and in his affliction her ancestor fabricated a alliance to accompany her back, unleashing the corruption. To fix that mistake, she charge accord up her activity already again.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

She dies, and the Prince carries her anatomy to its comatose place. But the bold aloof keeps going. Quietly, the realisation dawns on you of what the bold wants you to do next. Afterwards ten hours of blossom romance, the Prince can’t let sleeping princesses lie—in adjustment to see credits, you charge to accomplish the aforementioned abhorrent alliance her ancestor did.

You clump one by one to the four bewitched seals that authority aback the corruption, and breach them—methodically accident aggregate you’ve achieved. By your hand, the bribery returns, and the hard-won adorableness dies away. It’s a abominable and affecting moment, all the added so for authoritative you booty the affecting accomplish yourself rather than artlessly watching them comedy out.

As an ending, it’s a actual adventurous swing—which makes it the absolute apogee for a bold alike added beginning than I remembered. For all its awkward attempts to acquisition a new accumulation admirers for the series, with focus-grouped badinage and affectionate difficulty, it’s a bold that takes a lot of risks too. In the end, it wasn’t acknowledged in award a approaching for Prince of Persia, but it’s a attestation to its spirit that in 2023 it’s still an absorbing allotment of work, not aloof a actual curiosity. For bigger and worse, accurate boldness consistently stands the analysis of time.

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer annual (and the dearly ancient GamesMaster), Robin combines years of acquaintance in amateur journalism with a constant adulation of PC gaming. Aboriginal hypnotised by the ablaze of the adviser as he abashed through Simon the Archimage on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a addict anytime since, blaze any RPG or action bold to blunder into his path. Now he's channelling that adherence into bushing this admirable website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.