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Prince of Persia The Sands of Time Preview: Ubisoft’s first remake

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time Remake was today announced by Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai during Ubisoft Forward, the publisher’s first full-blown remake.

“This is the first remake from Ubisoft,” Game Director Pierre-Sylvain Gires of Ubisoft Mumbai, told Stevivor. “Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, 15 years ago, was one of the first huge hits for Ubisoft. It was created in Montreal. It’s an iconic game. It’s a piece of art.

“Players, for years after years, kept asking for the Prince to come back,” Gires continued. “It was quite obvious that Prince of Persia The Sands of Time should be the first remake for Ubisoft.”

Rebuilt from scratch in Ubisoft’s Anvil engine, The Sands of Time Remake will be more akin to Activision’s Crash and Spyro than Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 and 3.

“We [stayed] very true to the original game; true to the original narration,” Senior Producer Annu Koul of Ubisoft Pune asserted. “It was so nicely done at that time that I don’t think it would have helped to change the narration. The story of the game is something which we all love.”

That said, The Sands of Time will enjoy some modern enhancements to ensure its plays like a modern title.

“We’ve changed a few of the mechanics,” Koul continued. “We added a free camera. We added a targeting system so the player can enjoy combat more than before. These are small, small things which we added in the game, but at the same time keep the same we want to keep the same feelings of nostalgia.”

“We’re respecting the level design, the metrics and distance,” Gires added, “but we wanted to give it a modern twist for the player. It’s not a reboot because we respected the original design, respected the narration and the beautiful story between the Prince and the Princess.”

Gires and his team also ensured they respected the original by working from its source material as much as possible.

“15 years ago they didn’t have any servers, so finding the original soundtrack and finding the original stage and game design documents was a real adventure,” he admitted. “We found them in Montreal in a dusty box behind the wall — opening it was like opening a magic box, or a treasure chest.

The game’s original soundtrack has been remastered by teams in Montreal and India, and Yuri Lowenthal, the original voice actor of the Prince in The Sands of Time (alongside Peter Parker in Insomniac’s Spider-Man), has also returned to breathe life into the character.

Despite taking advantage of current technology, the remake’s aesthetic will honour the original title rather than providing locales and characters with realistic updates.

“Our artistic direction was definitely intentional; we don’t want to look hyper realistic,” Gires said. “This story is not about being super realistic — it’s a fantasy. It’s definitely in the middle of the One Thousand and One Nights feeling, between India and Persia. It has a beautiful, extended colour saturation. We wanted to play with the contrast and we wanted to actually accentuate this feeling of this fantasy.”

To Koul, the remake is as much as love letter to India as it is to The Sands of Time itself.

“Most of us [at Ubisoft Pune] have been working in this studio for the past 12 years, doing daily work with other studios helping them with their development,” she said. “But working on this project as a lead studio is like a dream come true for us; it’s something very close to our heart. We all grew up playing this game; this game has shown to us in India that there is a gaming industry. That you can be part of the gaming industry and you can make a career in the gaming industry.

“We’re very honored to make this game. and have a lot of pride in this. Our team has put all the details they can to give players information about Indian culture, through the architecture, to the environment, through to the materials we have used in the game. So that is something we’ve put a lot of effort in and I’m sure people are going to love it.”

Take a look at the Prince of Persia The Sands of Time Remake below. Expect the title on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4 — that’s right, not natively on Xbox Series X or PS5 — from 21 January 2021.

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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.