The Rogue Prince of Persia Review: "a roguelite with few fresh ideas that's mainly being propped up by its slick combat"

The Rogue Prince of Persia
(Image: © Ubisoft)

Early Verdict

The Rogue Prince of Persia is a roguelite that's currently a little too light and not roguish enough, playing it too safe to stand out. Still, a fun core combat engine and attractive animation provide a strong foundation to be built on during its time in Early Access.

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

The Rogue Prince of Persia has arrived on Steam Early Access - or at least, some of it has - coming via Ubisoft from developer Evil Empire, probably better known to most as "the people who made Dead Cells."


Release date: May 27, 2024
Platform(s): PC
Developer: Evil Empire
Publisher: Ubisoft 

Prince of Persia has always been a series with a reputation for time loops, so this one being a roguelite certainly feels like a wise choice - and grabbing a studio that made one of the best roguelites out there feels even wiser. That being said, the functional, but lightweight form that The Rogue Prince of Persia has been allowed to make its debut impression with… that feels a bit less wise, with the current build showing a solid amount of skill, but not as much imagination. 

 Warrior Without

The Prince speaks to NPC Azadeh in The Rogue Prince of Persia

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Let's start with the setup, which is basically all the current build has to offer in terms of story, barely getting its teeth into the first act before time is called. We play as the titular Prince, whose homeland is invaded by Huns empowered with some sort of shamanic magic that allows them to handily stomp through the Persian forces. 

All the Prince has to combat this new threat is a Bola that allows him to keep reversing time over and over - the framing for the roguelite element. Every time our hero takes an eldritch-soaked glaive to the skull while nosing about in enemy terrain, he's yanked back to the early hours of the invasion to attempt the whole counterattack again. What story is currently playable beyond that is largely just about finding your supporting NPCs, all of whom care deeply about the fate of Persia, but not quite so much that they'll actually come and help you fight, preferring to relax at base camp and provide moral support.

There's barely enough here to critique (it's literally an unfinished story) except to say that Ubisoft might do well to permit a little more personality across the board, as what's here in Early Access feels pretty safe and formulaic so far. The characters don't even try to escape their archetypes and there's not a lot of humour or pathos on show - for example, when you find the Prince's brother kidnapped and stuffed into a dungeon in the sepulchral Tower of Oblivion, he barely seems upset about it. Considering the pleasant pop-art-via-Tintin ligne claire art style that helps elevate proceedings, you'd hope the writing could show the same kind of effort. 

 The assassin formerly known as Prince

The Prince kicks a rock into General Berude in The Rogue Prince of Persia

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

When I said before that Evil Empire can be thought of as "the people who made Dead Cells", it might be more accurate now to think of them as "the people who made Dead Cells twice," as The Rogue Prince of Persia doesn't show much ambition to escape that long shadow. But hey, there's worse foundations to work from! And while the diversity of loot doesn't reach Dead Cells' level, the combat and movement already sparkles in this early build. From the beginning you can vault over enemies, kick them off ledges or into each other, unleash flashy barrages of attacks and combine a mix of melee and ranged weapons that integrate into movement handily. 

The thing that really works for me is the fact that you can wallrun along surfaces in the background behind you, which is great for connecting parkour puzzles and giving more freedom of movement. When a boss slung black fire at me, I'd leap up into the air, sprint along the backdrop over the projectile, throw back a chakram and land without any loss of momentum. The flow is there, bolstered by slick animation, and the fact that the core is so solid helps keep me optimistic about the future of the game. 

A poison medallion in The Rogue Prince of Persia

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

While the diversity of loot doesn't reach Dead Cells' level, the combat and movement already sparkles in this early build.

However, beyond that it goes from being solid to merely passable. Certainly nothing bad, but not especially exciting, certainly not in the way needed to stand out among Steam's ever-growing ocean of roguelites. The enemies, bosses and puzzles are fairly unmemorable, and the ability to choose your route through the biomes doesn't feel very necessary considering there's not much that's meaningfully different between them - something that was absolutely not the case in Dead Cells.

There's also a few weapons, ranged and melee alike, that you can unlock for future attempts, as well as a maybe-too-complex badge system that grants various buffs as you acquire random medallions along each run. Again, all the norm for a roguelite - not bad, but hardly electrifying. The weapons are probably a bit too similar to each other, but the badges are chaotic enough to be a nice shot of flavour.

 Let's do the Time Warp again - and again, and again

Combat in The Rogue Prince of Persia

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Rogue Prince of Persia is fine enough, a roguelite with few fresh ideas that's mainly being propped up by its slick combat engine. I played for about ten to fifteen hours before hitting the point where I was told to come back later, but even before then I was starting to feel like I'd seen all I needed to see.

It didn't help matters that only months ago we had a very similar - and probably better - game from the same franchise in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Feeling of repetition aside, it makes it harder to recommend a game when there's a more complete incarnation still doing the rounds, one that feels broader and more coherent with a far greater scope of imagination.

But let me be clear here: on its own terms, TRPoP is working fine, and is always at least a little entertaining. However, if it wants to reach the lofty heights of Dead Cells or even The Lost Crown, it needs to start building more unconventionally and taking more risks, rather than just obligingly following the standard tropes of its genre. Appropriately enough for a roguelite, we've all seen this before - and now this first run is over, it's time to start unlocking some new tricks for the future.


The Rogue Prince of Persia was reviewed in Early Access on PC, with a code provided by the publisher

More info

Joel Franey
Guides Writer

Joel Franey is a writer, journalist, podcaster and raconteur with a Masters from Sussex University, none of which has actually equipped him for anything in real life. As a result he chooses to spend most of his time playing video games, reading old books and ingesting chemically-risky levels of caffeine. He is a firm believer that the vast majority of games would be improved by adding a grappling hook, and if they already have one, they should probably add another just to be safe. You can find old work of his at USgamer, Gfinity, Eurogamer and more besides.