Finished up Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - well, mostly, there's some challenges that unlocked late in the game that I've saved for post-game. But yeah, it is a damn good game. Love the combat, the exploration and overall mobility and ability options you get, and damn are they creative with some of those at times. I on more than one occasion ran into something that left me thinking "I'll need to come back here later, I clearly don't have the ability to pass this [obstacle/puzzle] right now," only to later find that I totally could have passed it, it just required a more creative use of an ability I already had than I'd thought of. And they create some quite fun platforming challenges that are genuinely quite challenging out of the abilities you get once you have enough of them, too.

Honestly, I found myself thinking while playing it that it might well be my favorite Metroidvania platformer that I've ever played - not something I've ever really though of before. But after finishing it now, well, thinking through other ones I've played, its main competition for that title would be Symphony of the Night, Hollow Knight, and maybe Metroid Dread. And I think I can comfortably say I do like it better than any of those, even, so yeah, this probably is my favorite game of its kind. Very well done on the developers' part - and if it's the last Ubisoft game I ever play, at least it's a damn good one for them to go out on.

Think about the game also made me realize something about my personal preferences as I was playing it. Arguably, Metroidvania games are the "open world" version of platformers in terms of design - big sprawling map, emphasis on exploration, lots of side-content, etc. Yet I very much like those, while largely disliking 3D open-world games, or at times liking them in spite of that design. Granted, modern 3D open-world games tend to be much bigger and take much more time to complete than any Metroidvania game, but I don't think that's the only reason there's a difference for me. I think a big part of it is the genres themselves, and how I view them. Platformers, by their nature, are about movement and traversal of the world first and foremost. Even when they've got a combat system that's a major element of the game, like Prince of Persia, it's still the secondary form the gameplay takes, and in many cases it's much less important to the game than that (i.e. Mario literally just jumping on all of his enemies). That lends itself pretty naturally to putting a focus on exploration for me - and this also fits with me enjoying exploration in 3D collectathon platformers, ala my beloved Banjo games. But the main genres that get the modern open-world design are RPGs and action-adventure games, and in those cases the main elements that I'm looking for out of them are the story and combat, maybe some puzzles. Some exploration can be desirable (more so in action-adventure, at least for me), but it's not something I'm looking to have be anywhere near as prominent in those genres as their other gameplay elements. And since it doesn't feel like the natural extension of what I'm looking for when focused on like it does in platformers, trying to emphasize that element via open-world design just ends up feeling bad to me - you're turning the game into something I wasn't looking for it to be, and it doesn't even fit well with what I was looking for.

I don't know if that's interesting to anyone else, but my enjoying exploration in some games but not others (especially modern open-world games) is something I've wondered about in the past, so it was very nice to get a bit of an epiphany about at least, I think, a significant part of the reason I feel that way.