Looks good at first, but lacks staying power
When this game first came out, I thought it had everything I like. Beautiful art and graphics with a watercolor style? Check. Platforming plus combo-based 3rd person combat? Check. Thought-provoking story with a romantic angle? Check. I was all set to love this game.
But after getting about 6 hours or so in, I completely lost interest. There are a bunch of design and gameplay flaws that really hold the game back.
First, the platforming is largely automated. You see a ledge, you press a button to jump and run across the ledge. The character's movement is not mapped 1-to-1 to your control stick. At first, this is a disconnect because you expect you will actually have to control the Prince. If you're not used to it, you will spaz out and die a lot. But later, even once you get the hang of it, it's a letdown because it's like the computer does the work for you.
Second is the combat -- which is a lot of fun, but completely disconnected from the platforming. I was expecting a twitch-based experience like Devil May Cry where you would combo jump to the top of a platform and then battle some enemies. But instead, whenever there is a fight, the game locks you into "fight mode" which is a standalone thing. You can't resume platforming until you defeat the enemy. It feels completely artificial.
Third is the level design. You go through a stage, do a bunch of platforming, then get to the boss fight and win. Cool! But suddenly the level is "cleansed" and repopulated with light seeds. You must accumulate light seeds to unlock later areas. So sooner or later you are going to have to do the EXACT SAME platforming sequence again to collect all the light seeds in that area.
Finally there is the difficulty. No, I am not talking about the thing where if you miss a jump Elika saves you, which I didn't consider to be a big deal. (That's how death and auto checkpoints work in most games nowadays anyway.) Rather, the fights are impossible to lose UNLESS YOU ARE ACTUALLY TRYING. Whenever a boss does too much damage to you, Elika will use her magic to heal you. The only drawback is the boss is healed as well. In this situation there is absolutely no sense of excitement or accomplishment to the combat.
I really wanted to like this game. But it doesn't add up to an engaging experience. There are so many good games these days -- Prince of Persia just doesn't have much to offer.