Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown's parry system is an ideal evolution

Perfect parry.

A video game parry, done well, is as close to ecstasy as gaming gets. Sekiro’s sword clashes, God of War’s shield deflections, Bloodborne’s pistol interrupts – the best are a glorious unification of visuals, audio, and animation. A temple to your skill, built and honored in a brief instance of glory. It’s the knowledge that you could have dodged; you could have run. But instead, you faced your foe head on.

The mechanic isn’t new to metroidvania games, but we reckon Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’s parry is a contender for the best yet. And it’s thanks, in large part, to the Vengeful Counter system. You see, parrying here comes in two kinds. Your standard is a simple deflection. Time your shield just right, and with a flash of blue, the enemy’s attack is thrown aside. They’re staggered briefly, giving you a window to land a few strikes or slip past their shield. Handy, but nothing exceptional. 

Sargon slices across an enemy with a dramatic slice, both figures silhouetted against a red background - Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown parry mechanic
Vengeful Counters come with dramatic visuals. 
© Ubisoft

Put that same talent for timing to use when the enemy charges a Reckless Attack with a yellow glint, however, and you’ll activate an entirely different level of takedown. Vengeful Counters wrest the camera from its standard position, zooming in dramatically to showcase protagonist Sargon performing a stylish takedown worthy of the best shonen anime. Each Vengeful Counter is unique to the foe you’re facing – a fact that immediately sparked a craving in us to witness them all. 

It’s clear that the team behind Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown did their research, as Vengeful Counters are a direct extension atop to structure built by Nintendo’s recent Metroid games. In 2017’s Metroid: Samus Returns, Melee Counters wer introduced as a core pillar of combat. Enemy attacks preceded by a flash of light could be deflected for a high damage retort and, against certain bosses, a brief animated sequence.

A large manticore boss charges at Sargon with a glowing yellow eye
A yellow gleam indicates a Reckless Attack, and the chance for a powerful counter. 
© Ubisoft

In 2021, Metroid Dread advanced the system further. The parry was now fundamental in all boss fights, activating lengthy, camera-shifting sequences in which the player had the chance to unload Samus’ arm cannon or missiles into a weak point. Most final takedowns demanded its use, with multiple counters inputs required in a row before the ultimate blow was struck. Even the dreaded EMMI robots offered a miniscule counter window to fend off their insta-kill strikes.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown grabs this core premise unashamedly, but hones it to suit its own generous and dashing style. Parries and Vengeful Counters aren’t essential – you can avoid performing them entirely if you so please. And that’s part of the magic. At the basic level, dodging is just better. It’s easier, more forgiving, avoids most followup attacks, and still opens up plenty of room to punish an enemy. But if you’ve a penchant for parries? You’ll be rewarded immensely. 

Counter a regular foe’s Reckless Attack and you’ll almost always kill them outright. The animations are quick enough not to break your flow, and the dependency on the enemy to trigger them stops their cutscenes from growing stale. 

Bosses integrate the system especially well. Reckless Attacks are rare – you’ll usually see two at most per fight – and often come at pace or with misdirection. One serpentine big bad sends a tail swipe from one side after the indicating yellow glint, drawing your attention away from the bite you actually have to parry on the opposite side. Prove wise to these major villain’s tricks, though, and your reward is cleaving a huge chunk from their health bar with a flourishing strike.

Sargon lands in the foreground after slicing with both swords across a large snake boss called Azhdaha. Prince of Persia The lost Crown parry feature
Parry a Reckless Attack from a boss and you'll make a sizable dent in their health bar. 
© Ubisoft

If like us, you find yourself in love with the concept, there are plenty of avenues to hone in on it. Equipable amulets can generate a slow-motion field with every successful parry, while one special move unlocked later unleashes a cutscene counter of unarmed blows for immense damage – if you can time it correctly.

Turning enemy attacks aside isn’t the only place in which Prince of Persia draws obvious inspiration from elsewhere. Combos with launchers and meter-expending special moves come straight from the fighting game playbook. Closer to home, amulets and the controller-imperiling platformer puzzles that require pixel-perfect mastery of half a dozen movement mechanics are reminiscent of indie darling Hollow Knight. Though perhaps not refined enough to topple it from the modern metroidvania pantheon. But in each case, the ideas are folded in smoothly and with thought to the holistic experience and aesthetic. 

The description for an Athra Surge power called Rashnu's Judgement. Prince of Persia the lost crown parry system
Several unlocks let you build into a parry-centric playstyle. 
© Ubisoft

The line between derivative design and constructive inspiration is a delicate one, but by and large, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown walks it with all the grace of its backflipping, time-defying protagonist. Now, if you’ll excuse us, there’s a large fellow over there hefting an axe, and we know just the trick to deal with him.


Eager to give those parries a try for yourself? Equip yourself for success on Sargon’s quest with the best gaming gear for Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

Associate Editor

Henry Stenhouse serves an eternal punishment as the Associate Editor of AllGamers. He spent his younger life studying the laws of physics, even going so far as to complete a PhD in the subject before video games stole his soul. Confess your love of Super Smash Bros. via email at henry@moonrock.biz, or catch him on Twitter.

Storage

Shop Now

Headsets

Shop Now