Game Reviews

Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame

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Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame

The modern Prince of Persia is all swash and buckle - a daring dandy with a qualification in free-running and quips from the university of bro.

His earlier iterations, however, were far more fragile.

Those erstwhile princes performed their less-impressive acrobatics in much more dangerous places, where spinning blades and deadly trapdoors littered every dank corridor, waiting to send an unwitting and dismally slow-footed player back to the start of the level.

Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame walks the line between these two generations. On the one hand our prince is weak, and susceptible to piercing by most things in his environment. On the other, he's carrying a bag full of potions and second chances that mean restarts are mostly a thing of the past.

This collision is a little jarring at first, and the game is hampered by some slightly wonky controls that make the trickier sections wall-punchingly difficult. It's worth persevering, though, because as flawed as it is this mix of Persian princes occasionally makes for some intoxicating gameplay.


It begins 11 days after the end of the original Prince of Persia, and sees you usurped and tossed out to sea. From there you'll leap your way through 14 levels of platforming in order to rescue the princess and put an end to Jaffar's reign of terror.

There are two control schemes to choose from - one that involves a combination of swipes and taps and one that relies on the more old-fashioned combination of buttons and a joystick. There are times when the swiping method works really well, but too often it's frustrating rather than helpful.

You can move the various buttons around when you finally decide to give up on the less conventional controls and go for the joystick, and it's smooth enough that most of the frustrations of the swiping input are forgotten.

The platforming rhythm of the game is a staccato one. You need to be as precise about where you start your jump as where you end it. Sometimes the game punishes you for pixels, and it's here that some of the flaws start to show.

Leap of faith

There are quite a few glitches in Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame. At one point I couldn't turn around when I was fighting two assailants. At other times cut-scenes played before they should have been triggered, or I slipped through a platform to wander around in mid-air.

Your button-presses and swipes don't always register either, which is especially annoying in the fight sequences. These use a separate set of controls and you need to time your attacks and blocks just right or you'll be penalised.

A missed input here can mean the difference between finishing a scrap off with a well-timed combo or having to wait for another attack to counter before moving on.

Even without these niggles the fights are little more than padding. They're simple counter-attacking knife fights, and while they sometimes serve up a little bit of excitement they're not the thrilling clashes of steel some might be clamouring for.

Out of time

There's not a whole lot of game here, and even gamers willing to find every nook and cranny won't spend more than four hours in the company of the prince. You can of course chase leaderboard position, but the last two levels of the game are so muddled you're unlikely to want to play them again.

And yet, despite all the problems, there's something entertaining about Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame. There's a flamboyance to the animations that's hard to dislike, and a sense of exploration to digging up the various secrets the game has to offer.

It's by no means perfect, and it's by no means for everyone, but if you've got a couple of hours to spare to revisit a classic platformer that's full of nods to a more modern era of gaming, it's worth giving a try.

Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame

Torn between the two princes, Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame can never quite find its own identity. It's fun, but it's flawed, too
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.