Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, helmed by Ubisoft's Pune and Mumbai studios, to launch in January

The prince turns back time on 21 January with the remake set to launch on PlayStation 4 (playable on PlayStation 5), Xbox One (playable on Xbox Series S and X) and PC.

The prince is back!

Or at least he will be in January 2021.

On Thursday at its digital press conference (Ubisoft Forward), Ubisoft announced Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake (PoP:TSoTR) — a reworking of the game originally released in 2003. Much like 2K Games' upcoming Mafia: Definitive EditionPoP:TSoTR has been developed from the ground up. And while the original game from 17 years ago was built on Ubisoft's own Jade engine (named after the protagonist of Beyond Good and Evil, for which the engine was initially designed), the remake — Ubisoft's first-ever — will run on the Anvil engine that has most notably been used to power the Assassin's Creed series of games.

According to game director Pierre-Sylvain Gires, the rationale behind reviving this game "was to please the players that were asking to replay the game for a very long time."

This time around, Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai are reportedly taking a fresh approach to combat, puzzle-solving and rewinding time — the latter formed a key aspect of the original version's narrative and gameplay mechanics. According to Ubisoft, "The new design, made with updated technology for today’s gaming systems, includes new camera angles and fully remade sequences." Gires adds, "[In] terms of content, we wanted to play on the nostalgia, but also we wanted to revisit the three Cs [character, camera, and controls], because the game was a masterpiece. It’s still a masterpiece, but to reach the new audience, we definitely wanted to include the cameras and the combat."

This original versus remake video compilation, based on very early footage from PoP:TSoTR, gives some indication as to the extent of the redevelopment.

"As with the original, players will embody the heroic Prince alongside the daughter of the Maharaja, Princess Farah as they navigate the palace, battle sword-wielding enemies, manoeuvre trap-filled rooms and ultimately confront the evil Vizier, who controls the Sands of Time. Players continue to progress as they combat enemies and master the art of parkour," the Ubisoft release notes state.

Elsewhere, while the original voice of the prince, Yuri Lowenthal, reprises his role as the game's main protagonist (and does the motion capture work for the character — a technology that wasn't utilised in the original), the role of Farah is being essayed by Canadian actor Supinder Wraich. "Getting to do performance capture this time around was such a gift; it was as if we had gotten to rewind time and do it better. Before, it was just animated, and so there was no performance capture in that game that I know of," Lowenthal tells Ubisoft's website, "In addition to that, [the] new Farah, Supinder Wraich, was so wonderful to work with, and brought so much of herself, and so much power to the role."

All of which sounds great, but why was the task handed to the Pune and Mumbai studios? "We've been through a few productions here," Gires says, "And we have some senior members that have been working on different titles from Ubisoft. And we also had the help of the other studios as mentoring, regarding the new engine. So it's definitely a collective work that allowed the Indian teams to build up that game."

But wait, there's more. PoP:TSoTR is slated to include Jordan Mechner's 1989 original Prince of Persia game as part of the package and can be unlocked over the course of the main game.

In 2010,Tech2 analysis of the Prince of Persia series concluded, "[Ubisoft has] promised players a faithful recreation of The Sands of Time with pretty much the same setting, similar visuals, improved gameplay and voice actors. It remains to be seen if the Prince of Persia will be able to make his mark once again the way he did in 2003." We'll find out soon enough, because on 21 January next year, the game is set to launch on PlayStation 4 (playable on PlayStation 5), Xbox One (playable on Xbox Series S and X) and PC.

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