Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

A heroic quest to reclaim a tainted land finds itself tainted in some places
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Strong Violence: Combat against non-human enemies. Enemies may be cut in half, one instance of combat against another human, blood is shown when player character is struck, player character can be impaled by traps, a bloodless battle scene is shown. One character coughs up blood

Fantasy Magic: Plot involves substance and items that can control time. At certain points, the player character sees visions of the future. Final boss uses fantasy-style magic.

Sexual Content: Main female character wears bikini-top style outfit. Some female looking enemies wear revealing outfits. Cutscene involves a bath scene between two characters and hints at sexual intercourse. A kiss is also seen.

Author’s Note:
This review was written for the console and PC versions of the game. Some or all of this may not apply to the GBA version.

While most gamers might not know about the Prince of Persia series, most, if not all, are probably familiar with the Sands of Time trilogy; the critically acclaimed series that consists of three games with Sands of Time beginning it.

Note: This review contains plot spoilers

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Plot

The Sands of Time takes place sometime in medieval Persia. The game opens with Shahraman, the King of Persia, and his son, the titular Prince, launching an invasion on India for honor and glory. With no warning of the attack, India falls and the Persia army captures a great deal of spoils, including a large hourglass filled with oddly-glowing sand, a mysterious dagger, and a number of women, including the Princess of India, Farah.

After the raid, the Persia army continues on the way to the palace of Azad. Once there, the Prince is tricked by none other than the Vizier of India, who had betrayed his homeland in exchange for a part of the spoils, into unlocking the hourglass with the dagger. Heedless of a warning, the Prince does so, unleashing a terror known as the Sands of Time. The sands sweep over the palace, turning anyone it touches into mindless monsters made of sand. Only the Prince, Farah, and the Vizier escape this fate. After fleeing from the Vizier, who covets the Dagger of Time, the Prince and Farah join forces to recover the Sands of Time and undo the damage the Prince has done.

Gameplay

The Sands of Time takes place almost entirely inside the palace of Azad. The player controls the Prince as he goes from room to room reclaiming the palace’s halls and chambers from the Sands of Time. When a room is entered, the Prince must defeat the sand monsters that appear and then use the dagger to capture their sand. If he does not capture them, they get up, and you have to knock them down again.

After defeating all the monsters in a room, you have to solve a puzzle, usually involving trying to get to a distant switch by running and performing acrobatic leaps and other daring feats to get there. Chances are, you’ll mess up more than once, but that’s what you have the Dagger of Time for. If you have sand, you can use the dagger to rewind time by 30 seconds. In other words, if you died fighting or fell off an unbelievably high cliff, you can make it so it never happened.

Sometimes, you have to enlist the help of your companion, Farah. A lot of puzzles can be solved by moving some piece of furniture that hides a crack. Farah will slip through said crack, and you can move on. Unfortunately, it’s only the first piece of the puzzle you solve more often than not.

Offensive Content

Violence

The violence in this game isn’t exactly mild, but it’s also not on the level of so-gory-you’ll be sick either. All of the enemies are human in appearance, but they are all made entirely of sand. Usually, if you capture an enemy, they’ll scream or groan before vanishing. Enemies can also be cut in half down the middle. The results are bloodless however. Remember, they’re made of sand. No matter how they’re defeated, the enemies disappear after defeat.

The final battle is against another human. Although the death of the enemy is shown, it is hardly bloody.

Blood is shown when the Prince is struck. It’s just a quick flash of red that doesn’t linger. The most cringe-worthy scenes are when the prince is hurt by one of the palace’s many traps, including spikes that pop out of the walls and floors and spinning saw blades (who would’ve thought they had that technology). You’ll probably fall victim to these traps many times, but fortunately dismemberment is one area not explored. Still, in the case of the spike traps, it does look like the Prince is impaled on them.

On the subject of blood, the Vizier is shown coughing up blood on two occasions.

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**************Plot Spoilers***************

Towards the end of the game, Farah decides to return the Sands of Time to the hourglass herself. She falls into a hole but the Prince, holding the blade of the dagger, catches her. Blood is seen on the blade and Farah does fall to her death. Though there is no blood seen on the floor, her body is shown.

**************Spoilers End***************

Spiritual Content

The entire plot revolves around the Sands of Time. Other than drying out any person it touches, it apparently can control time and even grant immortality. (more on that later) The Dagger of Time can control it. It can reverse time or slow it down. When you enter a save point, a vision is seen, usually of an area you haven’t explored yet. This may be interpreted as divination; I personally didn’t see it as such. It was more like the sands showing what would happen.

Other than the time-manipulating abilities, some images of, I’m guessing, gods can be seen in places. I was not offended by these statues as they were part of the setting and nothing more.

**************Plot Spoilers***************

The final battle is against the Vizier himself, and he makes use of magic to fight you. His magic isn’t really of the occult; he just says a few words and creates a clone of himself to fight you with.

**************Spoilers End***************

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Sexual Content

Farah wears a revealing bikini-top outfit and a skirt. Some of the female enemies wear less. What they do wear amounts to little more than said bikini-top and a loincloth.

**************Plot Spoilers***************

As you could probably guess, a bit of romance blossoms between the Prince and Farah. Near the end of the game, the Prince finds Farah in a bath, and she asks him to strip down and bathe with her. We see him remove only his weapons, but it’s implied he takes everything off. We see them swim together, though nudity is never explicitly shown. At one point, we see Farah’s shadowy figure from the back as she sits, still naked, by the side of the pool.

The pair then climb onto a bed and are about to kiss before the screen goes black, so it implies the pair had sex.

And more spoilers:

It turns out the whole sequence was a dream, still a dream they could’ve done without. A bit of milder content has the Prince steal a kiss from Farah at the end.

**************Spoilers End***************

Noteworthy Content

The Prince clearly made a mistake by releasing the Sands of Time. The entire game is about him trying to undo that mistake.

Farah, though sometimes critical with the Prince, shows no hatred towards him, even though she has every right to. Although, it’s not actually indicated that she forgives him either.

*************Plot Spoilers*************

Getting pretty common aren’t they? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Even the Vizier has something to offer. He covets immortality because he is dying. I would say that says a lot not being willing to accept things we can’t change. He is willing to betray and kill to keep himself from dying. Clearly, he’s everything we shouldn’t be.

**************Spoilers End***************

You also can’t leave Farah behind and rush off. For one thing, not only do you need her help, if she dies the game ends unless you can reverse it, so your encouraged to take care of her.

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Conclusion

I thought the Sands of Time was one of the most brilliant games I had ever played. I found the storyline quite unique and the graphics were, in my book, breathtaking. True, it was a challenging game. I lost count of how many times I died just from fighting. The traps and all the times I fell were too many to count. Still, I kept on pushing and I thought it deserved all of its acclaim.

But while the game may be acclaimed, clean it is sadly not. The violence isn’t all that problematic, especially since it’s bloodless and not for its own sake. You’re fighting to protect yourself, not just because you can. The spiritual murk may be a little much for some, but the worst had to be that bath scene. Was it really necessary to show the two bathing together? Aren’t there better ways of showing romance? The old Disney way wouldn’t be so bad. I remember when it was limited to affectionate glances and the big finale was the kiss, not taking anything off.

So, while the game is entertaining, it’s really not recommended. If you do decided to track this title down, I’d recommend keeping your eyes shut throughout that scene.

That being said, this game is much better than Warrior Within, its sequel. A little less offensive content and it would be great.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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