clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Prince of Persia adds the best new feature to Metroidvanias in years

You won’t need your notebook to remember The Lost Crown’s enormous map

prince of persia: the lost crown screenshot shows the main character fighting a manticore with two swords Image: Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft via Polygon
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

If you’ve played a Metroidvania before, you’ve had this moment: You stumble upon a pit of spikes that’s too wide for your current loadout and then hope and pray that by the time you get the airdash or the doublejump or whatever, you’ll remember to go back to this very spot. And then, six hours later when you do get that upgrade, you’ll think “Where the hell was that pit of spikes?” And you’ll stumble around for hours trying to wander back to it, going mad in the process.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, the new 2.5D Metroidvania from Ubisoft, has an ingenious solution to this problem.

In the olden days, the way to remember where the pit of spikes was required diligent note taking, sometimes on graph paper.

More modern Metroidvanias, like last year’s excellent Blasphemous 2, have added customizable in-game map makers, but those have their limits. Does the skull icon I left on the map indicate there’s a big mean monster at this spot, or that there’s a collectible skull here that I can’t reach? It requires some forethought and guesswork to come up with a design language for how you’re using your markers. Invariably, you’ll still have to run back to that spot again to see if your latest upgrade is enough to overcome what was there when you marked it.

the memory shards tooltip in prince of persia: the lost crown. “Dont forget to capture images of yoru surroundigns reguarly to add them to the map and come back to them later.” Image: Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft via Polygon

In Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, the solution to this problem is actually pretty simple. At any point, you can take a screenshot and the game will pin that screenshot on the map for later viewing. If it’s that pit of spikes, you’ll know whether you’ve found the proper upgrade to cross that pit, and you won’t even have to hike back there to confirm that it’s the right spot. It is literally photographic memory.

There are minor limitations to this. You can only have a finite number of Memory Shards (as they’re called) active at one time, so you can’t douse the entire map in screenshots. But since you can also drop customizable markers alongside these screenshots, you’ll never have to guess where to go for your next upgrade or now-reachable chest.

I’d love to see this start appearing in other games too. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for the far-more-annoying double screenshot method that I use: one screenshot showing the map, one screenshot showing the gameplay.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.