Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown marks a bold reinvention for the series as a modern, AAA metroidvania. As the series’ first attempt at the genre, it packs some smart new ideas, including some that other exploration-based games should learn from. Chief among these is Memory Shards, an elegantly simple idea that could (and should) be a game-changer for the genre.
In the Lost Crown, Memory Shards are a limited but reusable resource that assigns a single button press to taking a screenshot and pinning it to your map. Those who have played metroidvania games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Metroid Dread know that a core part of the genre revolves around unlocking new abilities and then going back to previously explored areas to reach places you couldn’t before. Memory Shards are an easy, intuitive way to keep track of doors you can’t unlock and chasms you can’t cross yet. And since it’s stored as a screenshot, you can view the exact obstacle without any guesswork or unnecessary backtracking.
After you’ve gone back to re-explore an area marked with a Memory Shard, you can clear it from your map and get that back to mark another spot. You start with 10 Memory Shards but expand your inventory of them as you progress through the campaign. In my experience with the review, I always had at least a few spares, so the game seems to want you to have a healthy stock of shards at any time.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is full of smart quality-of-life features, from a Guided mode to multiple difficulty sliders. All of them let you use them, or not, as much as you’d like. If you’d prefer an old-school metroidvania experience you can always simply choose not to engage with those systems. But Memory Shards are the one that stand out the most, because they’re a eureka moment for the metroidvania genre–a discovery that should be copied by others looking to make their games more engaging and approachable.
“Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown feels like a sea change for the long-running series, and almost as dramatic a shift as Sands of Time was when it took the classic platformer series into 3D,” says our Prince of Persia: The Lost crown review. “This new genre debut is so confident and impeccably crafted that this should simply be the identity of Prince of Persia for the foreseeable future.”
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown releases on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on January 18, with early access on January 15 for those who purchase the deluxe edition or subscribe to Ubisoft+. A free demo is available now.