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What is one grain of sand in the desert? What is one grain of sand in the storm?
Prince of Persia is another Continuity Reboot for the action-adventure and platforming Prince of Persia series, developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released in the United States on December 2, 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and on December 9, 2008 for Microsoft Windows. It was later released on March 24, 2009 for Mac OS X via the Cider engine.
The game is set in ancient Persia, with the eponymous Prince as the main character. He is accompanied by a woman named Elika, whom he met after a large sandstorm diverted him from his course, and he ended up in a mysterious land. Players traverse many different environments using his acrobatic abilities to scale walls and even crawl on the ceilings. Throughout the journey, players combat various enemies as they attempt to cleanse the land of corruption. The game's storyline and setting borrowed some aspects from Zoroastrianism.
The next chapter is a downloadable expansion simply titled Epilogue, released on March 5, 2009, exclusively on consoles. A spin-off DS game, Prince of Persia: The Fallen King was released on Dec 2, 2008. Penny Arcade made a thirty-page comic about the origin of the Hunter.
As of March 2012, there has been no word on a true sequel to the game; plans for it have apparently been put on hold in favor of making a fourth installment in the Sands of Time series.
- Action Girl: Elika.
- Always Save the Girl: Depressingly so, and subverted at the end of the DLC.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: There are three sets each for the Prince and Elika: one a Mythology Gag (the Sands of Time Prince and Farah), one a Shout-Out (to Assassin's Creed and Beyond Good and Evil, respectively), and the last a Development Gag ("prototype" versions of the characters).
- Anti-Hero: The Prince looks to be the Han Solo type.
- Anti-Villain: The Warrior.
- The Mourning King. Everything he did was to spare his daughter Elika from having to kill herself to imprison Ahriman.
- Arc Words: "If you would have your wish, then give me mine."
- "What is one grain of sand in the desert? What is one grain of sand in the storm?" First stated by Elika, then by Ahriman.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Subverted. Elika tries to pull one on the Prince at the start of the Epilogue DLC, but it doesn't help either of them see the other's point of view.
- Badass Normal: Compared to creatures twisted by evil and given the power to use corruption as a weapon, a princess who can wield magical light, and a vengeful god who wants to unleash misery and suffering upon the world in a never-ending reign of darkness, the Prince has a sword and a clawed gauntlet. And he's kicking ass.
- Badass Princess: Elika.
- Battle Couple: The Prince and Elika are a variation.
- Being Good Sucks: The Prince's opinion of things.
- Benevolent Architecture: An uncanny amount of the scenery is implausibly handy for jumping/climbing/hanging/swinging/free-running around on. Which is lucky, since there's a distinct imbalance in the ratios of really-high-places to staircases/ladders/jetpacks, smooth stable floors vs. fatal drops etc.
- Bilingual Bonus: The spells that Elika recites when using the compass feature are actually just her saying things like "Show the way" in Persian.
- Black and Grey Morality: Ahriman is definitely evil, but his brother/counterpart Ormazd despite being the god of light is lacking in admirable qualities and at best is a Neglectful Precursors. This may be Justified in that being the god of light, and in real life, the equivalent of God in Zoroastrianism, he isn't the kind of god that intervenes much in the world affairs... Not personally anyway.
- Blue Eyes: The Prince character.
- Body Horror: What the Corruption does to its victims.
- Book Ends: The opening and closing scenes. "What is one grain of sand in the desert? One grain amongst the storm?"
- Bottomless Pit Rescue Service: Elika is happy to help.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Elika dies to seal away Ahriman. Then immediately subverted by the Prince who breaks the seal of Ahriman's prison in order to revive Elika again.
- Cel Shading: Taken to an extreme, combined with wide, sweeping vistas for maximum Scenery Porn.
- Character Development: The right trigger/R2 is a dialogue button for the Prince to talk to Elika, which may dole out a hint, more about the backstory of the land or characters, or simply Han-and-Leia-esque playful banter.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: All the incarnations of the Prince are inhumanly agile. The Prince in this game might take the cake, however. The boss fights make it clear that he is more than strong enough to block and parry the blows of a massive stone behemoth, that he's physically stronger than the rest of the Corrupted (who are larger than him and empowered with darkness), and that his head is harder than the Mourning King's helmet. He can generally throw the Corrupted in the air one-handed, as well.
- Clothing Damage: Elika's lacy blouse gets slightly more torn each time the plot advances, and it's subtle enough that the player may not even notice. This is also a Fan Service Mythology Gag, because a player who remembers the Prince's Shirtless Scene from Sands of Time may expect Elika to repeat it (she doesn't).
- Continuity Reboot: This game is unconnected to the Sands of Time trilogy. Pity it was abandoned in order to return to that series.
- The Corruption: Ahriman's influence.
- Counter Attack: In combat, the Prince is able to counter most enemy attacks and deal them a devastating blow.
- Crash Into Hello: Elika and the Prince.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: The Prince is able to grab hold of specific ledges and bars to move around the area. In certain cutscenes though, he is shown to be capable of much more elaborate maneuvers. This style was actually moved into Assassin's Creed made by the same people, where you can literally grab onto almost anything.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Prince is constantly snarking in the cutscenes, and once you exhaust the optional conversations with Elika, the dialogue button basically becomes a snark button.
- Even Elika snarks from time to time.
Prince: That's a nice blouse.
- Death Course: Lots.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Prince and Elika have special animations if Elika lands on the Prince.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Discussed and subverted. At the end, the Prince resurrects Elika partially because it's the only way to defeat Ahriman for good, but also partially because he's fallen for her. But to be fair, he did just spend a good chunk of time fighting the forces of world-ending darkness with her, which tends to bring people together.
Elika: Why are you doing this? You're not doing this for me, are you? I've seen you looking at me. I recognize that look.
- Dialog During Gameplay: There's even a button for it.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Elika displays her Action Girl Badassery by traversing rough terrain completely barefoot.
- Downer Ending: The Prince releases Ahriman in order to revive Elika. The Prince calmly walks away as Ahriman's darkness engulfs the land. Somewhat subverted in the Epilogue, where it's revealed that the Prince revived Elika because her power is the only thing that can defeat Ahriman for good; if she'd stayed dead, it would have just been a waiting game until Ahriman's seal broke, and he took over the land without resistance. Then it's played straight again when Elika leaves the Prince high and dry to go look for her people, and it's implied that Ahriman attacks him shortly after.
- The DS game The Fallen King, which could be considered a sequel to both the main 2008 game and Epilogue, at least leaves some hope for a happy ending. It has the Prince go after the king of the City of New Dawn in an attempt to summon Ormazd, and gains a temporary ally Zal, the "good half" of the king, who ends up dying after killing his other half. The Prince's other new ally, the Ancestor, leaves a message of hope for the Prince, promising that, in time, an inner power would be revealed and new ally would be found.
- Escort Mission: The developers went out of their way to avoid the Escort Mission feel with Elika, with an explicit intent of changing the way player's look at AI-controlled allies. They succeeded.
- Failure Is the Only Option: If you want to actually finish the game, you have to release Ahriman despite having spent the past god-knows-how-many hours sealing him away.
- Fallen Hero: The Warrior, who accepted Ahriman's offer of power so he could protect his people. Also, the Prince at the end.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The Prince and Elika. Ruined when the Prince re-unleashes Ahriman. Elika never forgives him for that, even when he's revealed to have had a very good reason for doing it.
- Five-Bad Band: Ahriman and his minions. In order:
- Foot Focus: Elika is always barefoot. In fact, the first time we see her, only her feet are shown.
- Foreshadowing: The Prince refers to both the war his parents died in and his fight against Ahriman as "someone else's war", in addition to expressing doubt that someone could fight for something other than themselves. When Elika gives up her life to re-seal Ahriman, the Prince releases Ahriman again to resurrect her. There are also several hints to Elika's earlier death, which is in itself more foreshadowing the above spoiler.
- For Science!: Stated word-for-word to be The Alchemist's reason for turning to Ahriman.
- Genre Savvy: The Prince seems to be this, with a lot of Deadpan Snarker.
Elika: It looks quiet.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Prince has quite a bit of this.
Prince: Oh, come on, I've helped old ladies home from the market.
- Elika gets in on the act, too.
Elika: I'm beginning to worry about you and your donkey.
- Grave Robbing: The Prince admits to this. Shamelessly. Hey, it's not like they need it anymore, right?
The Prince: I reclaim abandoned property!
- Guide Dang It: Plenty. Finding all the Light Seeds, for one. If you want the "Precious Time" achievement, you have to hold completely still after Elika dies. Do not touch any buttons, not even ones that don't make the Prince move. Hell, set down the controller, just to be safe.
- After you seal the evil back into the can, you get to walk around while credits roll, trigger a cutscene, and then find yourself trapped in a relatively small area of the game and expected to somehow figure out what you're supposed to do next - let the sealed evil out of the can you've just spent the entire game going to great lengths to seal him back into - with only a cryptic camera shot that could be showing off the restored landscape, and a flashback sequence explaining one of the game's unanswered questions as hints...
- A third is the game never explaining that you can press the jump button while on vines to have the Prince speed up his climbing. This makes going over them much less arduous, as vines often slow the normally quick traversal down to a literal crawl without this move.
- Heads-Up Display: Inverted. Aside from counting up your light seeds, there is no HUD whatsoever.
- Here We Go Again: A fairly somber example, invoked by the Prince.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Elika dies at the end in order to reseal Ahriman. The Prince promptly releases Ahriman to free her. She's not happy about it.
- Interface Screw: The Hunter likes to spit gobs of corruption, which obscure the center of the screen. When the Prince is infected with Corruption by the Alchemist, the screen has a sickly green and black border. The same effect happens in red and black if the Prince is injured during a fight.
- Jaws First Person Perspective: The end boss is played entirely from Ahriman's perspective.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Prince.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Elika is a rare female example.
- The Prince becomes this as the game progresses.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Run, jump, die, repeat. Run, jump, die, repeat. I'm starting to get the hang of this."
- Leap of Faith: The Prince must leap off a tower to defeat the Concubine's illusory Elikas by making the real one save him.
- Left Hanging: The ending, and frustratingly, the Epilogue as well.
- Le Parkour: Probably the defining game of the genre. Taken to ridiculous extremes in this game, almost outing the Prince as a relative of Spider-Man. The game even includes a ceiling run move:
Elika: We have to cross over there!
- Load-Bearing Boss: Each of the Corrupted has their own private lair, which collapses as you leave after defeating them.
- Lovable Rogue: The Prince to a T.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Prince chalks up his involvement in everything to (bad) luck, while Elika claims it was Ormazd's doing. Ultimately, the truth of the matter is left ambiguous.
- Metroidvania: The game is a 3D version of this genre. Played with, as you choose which powerups you unlock.
- The Most Dangerous Game: The Hunter's reason for selling his soul.
- Mythology Gag: the game opens with The Prince calling for Farah (the name of the Love Interest from the Sands of Times trilogy). Later, when asked if Farah is his girlfriend, he reveals it to be the name of his donkey.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Invoked at the end. After sealing away Ahriman (at the cost of Elika's life), the Prince almost immediately undoes the same seal he worked his hands to the bone to put in place. See Sadistic Choice below.
- No Flow in CGI: Averted. The Prince has a long scarf and a bearskin cape that billow dramatically in any wind.
- Nominal Importance: Averted. The Prince is never named except in The Movie, and several of the games have the majority of characters go unnamed. It's most notable in this game, which has eight different characters, but only two have names: Elika and Ahriman.
- No Name Given: The Prince.
- Not So Different: Ahriman pulls this near the end.
- Now Where Was I Going Again?: The game's map screen helpfully shows you which Fertile Grounds are corrupted, which are corrupted but you have the powers to access, and which have been cleansed. Additionally, you can press a button at any time for Elika to send a ball of light to your selected destination for you to follow.
- Point and Click Map
- Press X to Not Die: Used in combat when the player is about to be defeated, as well as to finish certain bosses off.
- Protagonist Without a Past: The Prince. He tells Elika as much when she starts questioning him. Hell, the game manual even backs him up on this one. If Elika's persistent enough (i.e. if the player keeps hitting that Snark Button), he does reveal that when he was young, both of his parents died for someone else's cause, leaving him with an uncle. He's been all over the world and met all kinds of people, but never got strongly attached to anyone. He robs graves and is always getting into trouble, and he's repeatedly gotten his hands on and subsequently lost a great deal of treasure. Where he comes from, rather than inheriting power, people get it by killing each other or bribing their way into it.
- Puzzle Pan
- Pyrrhic Victory: Save the world, lose the girl. Then subverted.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: A bit trickier to see, but it's there. It is implied in the DLC that Elika is somehow crucial to defeating Ahriman for real. By bringing her back to life, Ahriman has secured his release, but it will ultimately bring about his downfall.
- Real Is Brown: The game does have this, but the areas became much more colorful after being purified. Additionally, each area has a certain color palette before being purified.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The series and the movie adaptation get a lot of flack for making the Prince "too white", due to Western audiences expecting everyone who lives in the Middle East to be brown as can be and not even vaguely similar to the rest of the world. In truth, the Persian people were close relatives of the Europeans, and the majority of modern Iran's population could be considered "white". And most people there identify as white. Compare Iranian prime minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Jake Gyllenhaal. Also, read Kotaku's article.
- Even better, compare him to former deputy culture minister Mohammad Ali Ramin, who has a very light complexion.
- Recycled Title: The original game and this one share the name Prince of Persia. Early in development, subtitles were considered, including Prodigy and Heir Apparent.
- Reverse Grip: The Prince will shift his scimitar from a standard saber grip to this when going into a defensive stance.
- Right Man in the Wrong Place: Had the Prince not happened to fall into the canyon, the game would've turned out very differently, and probably for the worse.
- Ring Out Boss: The Warrior.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Elika.
- Sadistic Choice: The game gives the Prince a pretty hefty one: keep Ahriman trapped and the world safe (for the short time it takes for Ahriman to bust out of the weakened prison), or undo everything he's fought for and release Ahriman to destroy the world in order to bring Elika back from the dead so that she can find a way to put Ahriman back in the seal for good. And because, of course, by then we have completely fallen for her.
- Scenery Gorn: Before the land is healed.
- Scenery Porn: After the land is healed.
- The sky after Ahriman is released at the beginning of the game. Yes, it's the sign of evil overtaking the land and plunging the world into an era of darkness, but it sure is pretty.
- Screw Destiny: One of the themes.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Ahriman.
- Shirtless Scene: The Prince isn't quite shirtless, but his open vest shows off quite a bit of his lovingly-rendered abdominals.
- Shout-Out: You can unlock the Sands Of Time Prince's outfit, as well as Altair's (from Assassin's Creed) outfit. Similarly, Elika can be dressed as either Farah from the Sands of Time trilogy or as Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. You also get achievements for standing on the beam on the prow of an airship, and standing on a beam jutting out from a building that provides a spectacular view.
- The game contains a total of one thousand and one light seeds.
- Sidekick Ex Machina: Elika.
- A Sinister Clue: Kinda. Looking from the temple, the left-most Grounds are guarded by the Hunter, the most decadent of the Corrupted with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The right-most is the Warrior, a Tragic Monster and the only Corrupted Elika feels sympathy for. The two in-between are bad, but they at least have been Corrupted in a moment of weakness (unlike the Hunter).
- Speed Run: There's an achievement ("Speed Demon") for finishing the game in under 12 hours.
- Take My Hand: How Elika saves the Prince. Repeatedly. Additionally, if Elika attempts to jump to a ledge the Prince is hanging, she'll start to fall, but the Prince will spin around and grab her hand.
- To Be Continued: This is the Achievement that pops up after the Prince resurrects Elika and releases Ahriman. Turns out they've abandoned the new storyline in favor of a fourth installment to the Sands of Time storyline.
- Unflinching Walk: The Prince walks calmly away as he is engulfed by a sandstorm, and a dark god flies overhead.
- Unwitting Pawn: Ahriman uses the same sales pitch on both the Prince and the Mourning King and succeeds both times. Ultimately subverted in the second case, as the Prince has Elika brought back to life so she can defeat Ahriman for good.
- Video Game Caring Potential: What makes the final Sadistic Choice hit so hard is that the Prince must choose between undoing the result of many hours of gameplay and giving up on the person he and the player have grown to adore throughout said hours of perfect teamwork and bilateral UST-laden snarking.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Throw the Prince down pits as many times as you like! And infinitely because Elika will always save him, although you will miss out on an achievement if you do this too much. Some of the combat moves are rather nasty too: throwing an enemy into the air, juggling them with your sword, grabbing them out of the air and smashing them to the ground, shoving them through pillars, hurling them off ledges...
- Wall Crawl: Along with ceiling crawl. Assuming there are rings bolted along the wall/ceiling, he can run along them indefinitely. Even Spider-Man would be impressed.
- Wall Jump: Hell, yes. The Prince can do it indefinitely, even.
- Warrior Prince: By name, but not by actual position.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Asked by Elika at the end of the game when the Prince resurrects her and releases Ahriman.
- World-Healing Wave: Every time Elika heals a fertile ground.