Bring it Back | Prince of Persia (2008)
After a minor delay, we’re back with an interesting edition of Bring it Back. Last week, we took a look back on Hudson Soft’s Bloody Roar franchise, now in the hands of Konami. This week, we’re changing things up a bit. Usually, most of our subjects are game franchises with multiple games, or even a single game due for a comeback. For this week, we’re actually looking at one particular game in a bigger franchise. Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia series isn’t a dead franchise by any means, but it’s definitely been overshadowed by Assassin’s Creed. While the remake of The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is potentially coming this year, there’s another entry in the series that deserves a follow up. We’re looking back on 2008’s Prince of Persia reboot!
While the Prince of Persia series is over 30 years old and consists of just over a dozen games, the series has had a couple of reboots. The first was the Sands of Time trilogy (now tetralogy), but the series had a second reboot in 2008. This reboot went back to an ancient Persia, putting players in the role of an unnamed “Prince.” It’s important to note that the protagonist wasn’t exactly a prince, but more of an adventurer. What made this entry in the series so appealing was the gorgeous art style. Using a mix of detailed textures and cel-shading, this Prince of Persia title was simply stunning to look at, making it look very different compared to Ubisoft titles before it. Of course, the trademark action and platforming was still very much a thing.
The story of this reboot was also vastly different, taking place in a fantasy-style version of Persia. After a power struggle between the gods of light and darkness, Ormazd and Ahriman, Ormazd gets his people, the Ahura, to imprison Ahriman inside the Tree of Life. Ahriman’s Corrupted are sealed with their god, and after a thousand years, the Ahura can no longer contain them. The lore here uses heavy religious themes from Zoroastrianism, but puts it into a video game scenario. It’s after this thousand year sealing that the game takes place, putting players in the role of our Prince. This Prince is more of a chivalrous playboy, reminiscent of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. Makes sense given that it’s also Nolan North.
The adventure starts right when the Prince loses his donkey, coming across the Ahura princess Elika instead. Elika is an important aspect of the game, and she’s also one of the main differentiators to previous entries in the series. Controlling the Prince, Elika follows and helps to solve puzzles and progress through various obstacles. She also helps in combat with her magic, making fights a little different than previous titles. The combat itself otherwise works a little like Assassin’s Creed (or even other Prince of Persia titles), with offensive attack combos, blocking, deflecting, etc. It also has the Prince of Persia boss battle life gauge for all enemies. When an enemy attacks, you can only take the defensive approach, though should you fall, Elika will save you at the last moment.
Elika sort of acts as this game’s Sands of Time, keeping our Prince alive. There’s no limit to this, which means you technically can’t fail, though that doesn’t mean it lacks challenge. Setting out on a journey to restore the Fertile Grounds, the Prince and Elika confront the four Corrupted leaders to try and reseal Ahriman. Elika’s father, the Mourning King, ultimately stands in their way. We don’t want to go too far into the story and spoil things, but this game does have an interesting ending. It’s actually not a happy ending at all, and even involves a very selfish decision. The story even doubles down on this by releasing the Epilogue DLC. Instead of tying up loose ends, it only softens the blow of the ending and continues in a different game.
Yes, the 2008 Prince of Persia reboot did have a sequel, though only on the Nintendo DS. Prince of Persia: The Fallen King was a game that starts right where the Epilogue DLC leaves off. Elika leaves the prince and he is joined by a new ally, the magi Zal. Setting out to defeat Ahriman once and for all, the game adapts the reboot features into a sidescroller. Unfortunately, the DS game was released during a time that developers chose to use gimmicky touch controls. This was the downfall of The Fallen King, as the game had needlessly frustrating controls. Moving the Prince, combat, acrobatic moves, and even Zal’s magic all use stylus controls. It’s unfortunate, as the game could’ve had better reception had they opted for button controls.
With the DS game having a negative reception, a lot of people didn’t play it. It being the sequel to the gorgeous reboot is also a bit of a crime, as that game deserves better. We don’t know why we never got a true continuation, but there are some interesting things to note. Prince of Persia’s director Jean-Cristophe Guyot went on to direct Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, returning to the Sands of Time storyline. Afterward, he went on to direct Far Cry Primal, though not much else since then. We choose to think that 2009’s Assassin’s Creed II pushed Ubisoft to forego the Prince of Persia series, opting to build that franchise instead. The Forgotten Sands was a chance to bring the franchise back, but it wasn’t doing Assassin’s Creed numbers.
While Ubisoft is dipping their toes back into the Prince of Persia franchise, it’s with a remake of the original Sands of Time. Leaving the 2008 reboot behind, it’s deserving of another chance, and that’s why we believe Ubisoft should Bring it Back! While the game is still available on PC, current platforms are out of luck. You can’t even play it on Xbox, as the game was never made backwards compatible. The best course of action here is to make a remaster of the original. A remake would work too, though that’s likely too much effort for Ubisoft to finance. Once the game can get in the hands of more players, then Ubisoft can continue from where they left off.
While the Prince of Persia franchise might not have the appeal of Assassin’s Creed, the series still has a big legacy. Honestly, the biggest problem here is leaving behind the beautiful art style, as it’s still one of Ubisoft’s prettiest games. Hopefully someone at Ubisoft still remembers this game and decides to give it the light of day again. Until then, we can only dream of a sequel. Would you like to see a remaster or a sequel? Let us know in the comments below. Check back next Sunday as we look back at a fan favorite Sega franchise that’s in need of a revival.