Prince of Persia® The Shadow and the Flame Review
- Re-imagined visuals look great.
- Non-linear levels make exploration fun.
- Neither control system is 100% reliable.
- Fights become a bit of a chore.
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame's handsome visuals and exploration-friendly levels can't quite make up for the game's control issues and bland fighting sections.
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Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame certainly looks the part. The ancient dungeons and booby-trapped palaces from the 1993 original have been handsomely fleshed out with an extra dimension for this iOS remake. Our gymnastic hero has apparently been hanging out with the Forgotten Sands-era prince, and has learned a few of the youngster’s acrobatic moves, including a natty backflip. He also engages in swordplay, which echoes the wait-and-parry system found in the Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series.
Question is, how have those all important controls translated onto the touchscreen? Well, you’re given two options: a traditional floating joystick and buttons setup, or a gesture-based system. Unfortunately, neither option is wholly satisfying. The small buttons employed in the joystick option are a little fiddly and easy to miss, which is the last thing you want when trying to avoid spike traps and fatal drops.
Some of the gesture commands, meanwhile - such as the running and climbing motions - feel pretty natural. However, the necessity to hold down one finger and swipe with another to execute jumps isn’t ideal, and can fail at the most inopportune moments.
On the plus side, the reinvented levels (which are inspired by rather than based on those in the original version) feel true to the series’s ‘90s era roots. They stretch out in every direction, and, while not huge, offer a freedom not found in most modern platformers. Exploring the corridors and sussing out the route to the next door-opening pad is fun, even if the iffy controls make avoiding traps more painful than it should be. To compensate for the occasional untimely death, the prince can be revived where he falls by necking a potion. Some might consider this a little cheap, but it beats restarting the level after every control-related hiccup.
There’s a lot more fighting in this sequel, too – more even than the PC version – with enemies literally queuing up to stick something sharp into your royal hide. It’s not long before these time consuming bouts fall into a fairly monotonous rhythm of waiting, blocking, and countering with a combo. As the enemy numbers increase, these steel-powered scuffles feel more like tests of patience than skill.
In the end, while it’s refreshing to see good, old-fashioned platforming sensibilities on the App Store, The Shadow and the Flame’s iffy touchscreen controls make it more of an historical footnote than a port to remember.