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Dead Cells dev’s new Prince of Persia roguelike is a must-play

From Dead Cells maker Evil Empire comes new roguelike The Rogue Prince of Persia, and this Steam Early Access game is shaping up well.

The Rogue Prince of Persia preview: a man in front of a yellow sky, jumping forward and holding two knifes

Dead Cells is, without a doubt, one of the best roguelikes of all time. Initially developed by Motion Twin, the hit action game was eventually handed over to Evil Empire following its 1.0 launch. On top of spearheading Dead Cells, Evil Empire has worked on multiple retro IPs over the past few years, and we now know that one of them is the newly announced roguelike The Rogue Prince of Persia. I got a chance to play the first few levels and fight a boss, and it’s safe to say that fans of Dead Cells will find Evil Empire’s latest to be an invigorating, if at times familiar, experience.

As soon as I picked up The Rogue Prince of Persia it was apparent that Evil Empire is doing what it does best. The core platforming, movement, combat, and mechanics aren’t a 1:1 recreation of the team’s previous iconic roguelike game, but it is teeming with similar DNA. While The Rogue Prince of Persia has a different sense of weight and movement to it, the core gameplay loop – venturing out into 2D levels and finding upgrades, weapons, and permanent currency to improve your pool of resources between runs – is virtually identical to Dead Cells.

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The Rogue Prince of Persia still does a lot to set itself apart from Dead Cells, with wall running and parkour being a key part of the platforming and fighting, but I instantly felt at home with the game despite only spending 30 minutes with it. Evil Empire’s take on Prince of Persia is launching in Steam Early Access too, so while the level of content will increase over time, I’m incredibly pleased to report that the core of the experience is very much built to last.

The Rogue Prince of Persia preview

While Dead Cells is, at least in part, about learning the ins and outs of the game so that it becomes second nature, The Rogue Prince of Persia takes a slightly slower approach. Movement is more deliberate, with the wall run being both a great way to get out of a bind and essential to navigating the levels and closed-off platforming challenges.

The Rogue Prince of Persia’s combat carries a similar weightiness, which leads to frenetic but contemplative fights. Dodging doesn’t just send you through enemies for example. Instead, it causes you to flip around behind them, allowing you to perform a slick counterattack. You can kick enemies off of ledges into traps, wall-run over them, and use your primary and secondary weapons as you see fit. While the combat loop is similar to Dead Cells, Evil Empire does just enough to give it the Prince of Persia DNA the game deserves.

The Rogue Prince of Persia preview

I’m very excited to see where Evil Empire takes the bosses in The Rogue Prince of Persia, too, because I find the mechanical variety in all of the Dead Cells bosses to be some of the best in the genre.

While I only got to fight the one boss during my preview, the use of the game’s wall-run mechanic was superb. Integrating the traversal into each of the boss’ moves and forcing you to master it during a tough challenge is no easy feat – but Evil Empire nails it. I can’t wait to see how the movement and platforming will play into later boss design.

The Rogue Prince of Persia preview

Playing Dead Cells after The Rogue Prince of Persia is like taking cinder blocks off your shoes. This isn’t to say Evil Empire’s newest game is harder – it’s still fast-paced and intuitive – but the thrill of taking on a group of enemies here just hits different.

As I’ve made clear, The Rogue Prince of Persia is very much in the vein of Dead Cells. While this mostly works in Evil Empire and Ubisoft’s favor, it does have me cautiously optimistically for how far it veers from the roguelike that so obviously inspired it. The parkour and platforming do set the games apart, so I’m excited to see how Evil Empire works that into the rest of the adventure when it hits Steam Early Access on May 14.