The new Prince of Persia: carebear edition

I had a chance to play a little of Ubisoft’s new entry into the classic Prince of Persia franchise. This time they’ve decided to take a leaf out of Squaresoft’s “same name, new characters”  by going with completely different protagonists, a new, more cheerful Prince and his companion, a magical girl called Elika.

First impressions are overwhelmingly positive, this is a beatiful looking game and indeed if graphics are where it’s at for you, they can easily carry the game as they’re beautiful to look at. The game is also reportedly fairly free roaming so you get to explore the environments to your heart’s content, something that for example Mirror’s Edge left you frustrated about.
And I bring up Mirror’s Edge because jumping mechanics are very much an integral part of the Prince of Persia series, and it’s inevitable to think of EDGE’s recent groundbreaking entry when you’re playing this game, since both feature jumping puzzles and parkour mechanics as integral part of their gameplay. And it suffers a little in the comparison.

Mirror’s Edge is an unforgiving game so imagine my surprise when the first time our hero the Prince comes against a yawning chasm, all you have to do is press the jump button and he’ll effortlessly siderun along the canyon and jump several meters into the like an anime character to clear it with ease. Faith would be pissed.

Granted, it’s apples and oranges, ME is a semi realistic game while PP is intended as high fantasy, but when our protagonist hooks up with his travelling companion, the exotic and mysterious princess Elika and fights his first few battles and comes accross the first actual dangerous falls that a major game mechanic becomes evident: The Prince cannot die, by design. If he falls, Elika will swoop down on her magical bungee cord and whisk him back up. If an enemy is about to skewer him, Elika steps in and protects him.

It’s somewhat… emasculating. I’d say it’s like a saturday morning cartoon except when I grew up we had a sat. am. cartoon based on Dragon’s Lair, and Dirk the Daring died a lot, even in the cartoons, sometimes.  To be fair, dying and restarting 5 times in a row on a normal game is just as farcical as being rescued by Elika from the same failed jump several times in a row, but the added agency makes you feel like at some point she’s going to get tired of your clumsy ass and just let you go. Alas that doesn’t happen – it would be good for a laugh.

Oh and for extra PG-ness it seems the enemies don’t die either – granted I didn’t fight that many but it seems when they are to be defeated they go “Uh oh” and retreat, or drop back into the pool of evil they came from in the case of the monsters. In this day and age of increasing gore and death this curiously bloodless game seems like an odd choice.