The biggest addition is the ability to solidify water, transforming horizontal jets into swing bars, vertical torrents into pillars and waterfalls into scalable walls. Later still, you gain the additional ability to restore missing parts of the scenery, but only one at a time, and the game has some fun mixing and matching the possibilities - particularly towards the end where the timing required to pass certain sections is sure to cause frustration.

You might, for example, have to jump through one waterfall, solidify the next, double-wall-jump back through that wall (now turned back into water) before solidifying things again to swing from a water jet, landing on a platform that you summoned out of thin air, replacing that platform with another as you jump, and then performing a series of jump-and-solidify moves to navigate spluttering pipes that only provide enough water in a certain sequence.

It's maddening, but also the closest the game comes to actually seizing and building on its long legacy. A couple of lever-and-cog-based puzzles aside, too much of the game finds you simply following the camera to the next exit, the scenery all but telling you which buttons to press, demanding engagement that is more instinctive than intellectual. Wall run, jump, jump, swing, grab and climb - it's the sort of thing that will be second nature to anyone with prior experience of the Prince, and it's easy to slip into autopilot, casually performing what should be daredevil actions from a comfy slump rather than the edge of your seat.

Combat, meanwhile, has sadly been reduced to predictable button-mashing, the increase in on-screen enemies (often dozens at a time) forcing a decrease in the number of distinct fighting skills available to you. Rather than the block, thrust and parry swordplay of old, this is essentially God of War: Arabian Edition, only without that game's combo depth and over-the-top melodrama.

3
Navigating this clockwork cosmos is one of the few memorable puzzle set-pieces in the game.

Bad guys swarm you, you hammer the attack button and point the left stick at the nearest foe, and they crumble to dust as you carve through them. A few enemy types require slightly different tactics (shield-bearing creatures must be kicked before the hack-and-slash commences, for example) but a relentless one-button assault gets the job done most of the time. Boss battles are similarly afflicted, with some impressive, towering foes brought down simply by rolling and hacking away at their ankles until they die. Towards the end of the game you get a magical sword that renders even this level of nuance obsolete, offering one hit kills against pretty much every kind of enemy.

A quartet of magic powers help with crowd control, but their elemental nature - earth, wind, fire, ice - should give you an idea of how imaginative their uses are. Accessed via the directional pad, you can upgrade them by collecting experience from each enemy slain, but none of them evolve into anything that will really impress. They're certainly handy but, like so much else here, the implementation is functional rather than fun.

About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Senior Contributor, Eurogamer.net

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

More articles by Dan Whitehead

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