Back in February 2020, Ubisoft revealed a brand new VR escape game experience called Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time. The new experience follows in the same format of their two previous virtual escape game experiences - Escape the Lost Pyramid and Beyond Medusa's Gate, both of which were hugely popular and based on the Assassin's Creed titled games.
Back In May 2020, we were lucky enough to be given beta testing access for the new 'The Dagger of Time' experience prior to the experience being released exclusively to over 300 commercial, location based VR centres (LBVR) globally. At the time of writing, Ubisoft has no intention of releasing the experience to the home user market, meaning that you'll need to visit XP-VR if you'd like to experience it yourself!
* 03/06/20: As part of the beta testing agreement, we agreed not to release any information that would spoil the new VR experience for players. Ubisoft have not yet released any official marketing assets such as video or in-game screenshots at this stage, but when they do you will see them here.
From the synopsis:
Prince of Persia: The Dagger Of Time is a Virtual Reality Escape Game set in the world of Prince of Persia which enables you to experience time control. You will be able to experience something impossible in real life: to slow, stop or even rewind time!
The Dagger of Time takes place in the setting of the Prince of Persia Trilogy (Sands of Time, Warrior Within, The Two Thrones). Players are summoned to the Fortress of Time by Kaileena to stop an evil Magi. Kaileena restores and gives the Dagger of Time to the players so they can reach the Hourglass Chamber and use it to stop the Magi.*
TDOT is an experience built around cooperation between players of all ages to achieve a shared goal. Collaboration is essential: you cannot succeed without your teammates. Being able to listen and communicate effectively is absolutely key to success.
In the game, two, three or four players team up to find a way out of a reimagined Fortress of Time. To succeed, they need to work together and solve puzzles. The puzzles will require players to interact with objects in their vicinity, climb, and use certain powers, such as the time control.
HOW IT WORKS
Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time escape game experience works with two, three, or four players and is suitable for almost all ages. The puzzles themselves have to be solved together as players work in their areas to control parts of the environment, virtually scale walls, and manipulate time as a team. If players do not work together to solve the puzzles, escape will not be possible.
We tested out the new TDOT escape experience playing as a team of 3 players. We were pleased to see this new 3 player functionality as Ubisoft's previous escape experience titles that we currently offer (Escape the Lost Pyramid and Beyond Medusa's Gate) can only be played in an equal team of 2 or 4 players.
The experience begins much in the same way as Ubisoft's previous experiences do. Players walk-through a in-game tutorial, replicating the controls and actions that they need to do inside the game. Players select their in-game characters and proceed into a waiting lobby to wait for other players in the group to join. The lobby also serves as an area for further in-game character optimisation. Players can see and interact with other player's characters, this is where the power of virtual reality really comes into its own.
In the lobby area, players can dress their character and select objects that they want to use and take on their virtual escape adventure with them. What we liked here is that seemingly, whatever object the player decides to take at this stage, determined their individual character's special ability inside the game once it starts. This wasn't very clear at the time of testing, but we have fed this back to Ubisoft as part of the testing.
When all players are ready, they are moved automatically into a pre-game experience. This is a visual element with a voice over narrative to give the player's adventure context and purpose. We were impressed with this and found this pre-game experience to be better than the previous two titles.
When the game starts, players are isolated and must complete a puzzle in order to escape from the location they are in. This is similar to Ubisoft's two previous titles and the player will need to perform an activity in order to proceed to the next stage.
Once at the next stage, players will then be able to see each other inside the virtual world. Players will need to perform a set of actions in order to successfully complete the puzzles. Just like in their previous titles, we love how Ubisoft have incorporated a multiplayer element into the game. Players won't just see each other inside the game. They will need to work together in order to successfully achieve certain objectives. Without giving too much away, we found this element an improvement on the previous two titles.
As with their previous two titles, the effort Ubisoft have put into the visual elements inside the game is clearly evident. The Prince of Persia theming is incredible, with players being able to see and physically interact with their virtual world around them. As you'd expect, the theming is a breathtaking fusion of Arabian fantasy and ancient jungle temple that works very well. The graphics are of high quality and are very crisp. The ambient background noise also really adds to the experience, making the player really feel as if they are there.
After completing the puzzle, players come together once again to continue the adventure, going on to solve puzzles and perform various activities that require them to communicate and work together. It as this point that we realised that we would need to use the objects that we selected at the pre-game phase. 'Kaileena' who you are introduced to at the pre-game narrative stage is a god-like deity and remains with players as a constant presence throughout the adventure. Players are guided by her as she tries to steer you through the adventure to stop the evil Magi, helpfully telling you what object you may need to use in order to perform a certain task.
As you can expect, the dagger is one object of particular importance. This is used throughout the game to control time. Without spoiling the experience, players will need to use the time control element in order to allow other players to perform certain actions. Players may also need to interact with their surroundings in order to solve an element of the puzzle and allow everyone to progress to the next stage. Stages are sequential, so rather than loading screens - players move onto the next stages of the adventure in person. Players will be required to teleport themselves through openings or traversing newly cleared routes that are sometimes not completely obvious to players.
The overall objective of the adventure is to successfully reach the hourglass chamber and perform certain tasks in there in order to meet the Magi and stop their evil powers. A trickier job than we anticipated, but nevertheless - extremely good fun!
We loved the little touches that have been included throughout the game. Players can interact with objects that seemingly serve no purpose other than for immersive effect, or perhaps as red herrings, to waste the player's time ... this is an escape experience after all.
We also found ourselves blown away with the ambient sounds and visual surroundings in the game. Ubisoft's titles are not 'rooms' or games with a single location games. Similar to both previous titles, we felt that the developers had really delivered again on this experience with a stunning environment that makes the player really feel as if they are there in the world, rather than a game.
We felt that the puzzles in the experience were well balanced in terms of difficulty. Some were easier than their other titles, others would require a bit more lateral thinking from players.
As you can expect, the typical (albeit breathtaking) elements of any Ubisoft virtual escape game experience were included in this new TDOT experience. Players will be expect to climb, shoot, push/pull/grab objects, turn dials and perform a range of other interactive activities in order to part complete or fully achieve an objective. Players will need to work together, talking to helping each other in order to move on.
Despite knowing the game wasn't 'real' and having experience of the other Ubisoft VR escape game titles, there were many times in this new experience that we all had sweaty palms and didn't want to look down. One of our team rather recklessly failed to grab a hand grip sufficiently whilst climbing, shrieking as he plummeted hundreds of feet down to an almost certain physical death. Before he had time to open his eyes, his character had re-spawned back to the original point in game, minus his pulse in the real world.
Yes this new new 'Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time' escape game experience isn't actually 'real', but we all agreed it certainly felt that way whilst playing.
As for the end objective, we ESCAPED and defeated the evil Magi. The escape timer declared an embarrassing 72 minutes though...
*obviously as we were trying to avoid numerous virtual death moments, that's our excuse anyway!
Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time escape game experience is due to be released in July 2020. Will you and your team being playing?
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