The Rogue Prince of Persia Adds Dead Cells Magic to the Iconic Franchise (Hands-On Preview)

Dead Cells is one of my favourite games of the last ten years. The combination of challenging, fast-paced action with rewarding progression grabbed me like few roguelikes do (nothing beats Hades, however). 

Prince of Persia The Lost Crown is also one of my favourite games of 2024, providing a fresh start for the iconic series and some wonderful puzzle-platforming action. So getting the chance to play a side-scrolling Prince of Persia roguelike from the developers of Dead Cells was something I couldn’t be more excited for. My 30 minutes of playtime wasn’t enough to get a full taste of the game, but it certainly has the potential to be another high point in the series.

For the most part, you’ll know what to expect from The Rogue Prince of Persia if you’ve played Dead Cells. Each run involves trying to get as far as you can, taking out enemies as you go, and amassing as much currency as you can to upgrade and unlock stuff for the next attempt. There’ll be bosses to fight, secrets to find, skills to grab, and new areas to progress to.

character mid-attack in The Rogue Prince of Persia
Image Source: Ubisoft

Having only explored the first area, fought a boss once (doing embarrassingly poorly that one time), and attempted just two runs, I can’t say too much about the world itself. It’s gorgeous as you’d expect, and I’m excited to spend more time exploring it. 

The combat is satisfying too. Just as they are in Dead Cells, the standard attacks are quick and you have to keep moving to stay alive. Combine them with kicks that send enemies crashing into each other – think a similar effect as punching a door in to stun enemies in Dead Cells – throwable weapons used with R1/RB, quick dodges, and taking on groups of enemies is brilliant. 

It’ll be interesting to see how combat changes as different enemy types are presumably introduced in later areas, as there are a lot of ways to approach even the early encounters.

Again, what I saw of them was limited, but The Rogue Prince of Persia also features findable skills that augment your abilities, allowing you to build an arsenal that focuses on specific attacks or elemental damage. I found one that caused fire damage when kicking an enemy into another or against a wall, and I can envisage how you’ll be able to chain different skills for massive damage as you progress further and further. 

These abilities also boost your others in different ways as you equip them in each of your initial four slots. How they affect each of them means you need to think about where you place them in your inventory as much as what you pick up, which adds another interesting level of complexity to each run.

Where Evil Empire have made their new game stand out is in the traversal. Movement in Dead Cells is quick anyway – you’ll die a swift death if you’re not always on the move, but it’s generally quite linear. You’re limited to the floors you can jump between and some ways of climbing up and down. For The Rogue Prince of Persia, the spirit of the series’ movement is maintained by allowing you to run on almost anything.

Not only can you double jump and dash with L2/LT, but you can hold the trigger to run along or up any wall or surface, allowing you to get past or above enemies with ease. 

the character going down hill in The Rogue Prince of Persia
Image Source: Ubisoft

In any challenging platforming section or combat scenario, the ability to sprint along a wall is always there. You’ll then be able to attack from new angles, surprise enemies, or simply get to safety in a fraction of a second. It’s really well implemented and the world has clearly been intricately designed with wall-running being at the centre of everything you do. Movement is fun and fluid in The Lost Crown, but it doesn’t have the freedom in it that there is in The Rogue.

In the first area of the game, which was the only one I played, platforming puzzle sections were limited, so I’m excited to see how the traversal mechanics are used in interesting ways later on.

Evil Empire also says that they don’t expect The Rogue Prince of Persia’s gameplay to change much, if at all, between when it launches into early access and the full release, whenever that may be. They’re planning on using that time to add more content to the game and refine what is already there. 

In a year that’s already had an excellent Prince of Persia platformer, I’m curious to see how The Rogue Prince of Persia will stand out and find an audience. As a roguelike platformer in its own right, it’s shaping up to be something great. What else would you expect from the team behind Dead Cells, though?

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