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Review: ‘Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’ rediscovers the lost art of jumping

DUBAI: Jumping, something that in real life is rarely a feature of most people’s lives, is an essential part of much of the video gaming universe. It is often the first lesson in a tutorial, following on from the basics of movement to introduce the player into the physics of a particular game. Get it wrong and frustration builds; get it right — as Ubisoft have done with the latest incarnation of the 1989 “Prince of Persia” series — and it is a joy to behold.

Jumping from wall to wall, across treacherous gaps and between deadly traps forms the fundamental basis of “The Lost Crown” (reviewed on the PlayStation 5), as it tests timing, reflexes and logic for you to make progress.

The game is set in the world of Mount Qaf, gorgeously painted in comic-box pastels. In this fantasy realm, you quickly set off on a simple quest — to rescue a captured Prince. You do this in the form of Sargon the warrior.

To find the Prince, Sargon must navigate a side scrolling environment and do lots of jumping to survive. The backdrops are gorgeous and dreamy, although it makes the 2D gameplay feel a bit straitjacketed. The game adopts a clever map function that allows you to memorize places that you can only access once you’ve levelled up, a smart concept that encourages the player to explore and seek out hidden parts of the world.

You are not alone in this adventure, popping up along the way is your “Team of Immortals,” made up of a cliched gang of the strong and the smart. Combat is kept interesting — parrying attacks is important, but a tricky skill with timing; and jumping proves an essential way of dodging trouble while ranged and melee attacks are the bread and butter of engagements. Avoiding hits allows you to build up stamina to launch special powers, which can be upgraded at special sites across Mount Qaf.

The game’s fantasy routes and focus on time powers allows you to change your environment and, suddenly, vast statues appear from floating rubble. In addition to a range of enemies there are dungeon traps of explosive spikes and swinging axes that you must survive. The fluid jumping mechanic is made more dynamic with the ability to “burst” through air. Reaching the peaks of parts of the world is incredibly rewarding, while falling all the way to the bottom is equally frustrating.

All in all, the balance of world building and battles are solid, but the jewel in this game’s crown has to be its love of jumping.

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