Prince of Persia is a longstanding franchise of action-adventure games set in mythical Persia. The franchise includes a 2010 film starring Jake Gyllenhaal (it was not met with critical acclaim), a graphic novel, and a comic book.
Because each game in the franchise is quite different in its own right (including ESRB ratings), our best suggestion is to research the individual titles. In general, the newer the games are, the more explicit they are.
Violence: The Sands of Time includes some blood. Forgotten Sands features only mild violence with no blood. The Two Thrones is considerably more explicit, however, and The Warrior Within is more violent and gory than any other game in the franchise, including some sexualized violence (see below).
Sexual Content: Although there are no explicit sex scenes, it is strongly implied in The Warrior Within and The Sands of Time that the Prince sleeps with Farah and Kaileena, respectively. The Warrior Within also features female-coded monsters whose language, upon death, imply sadomasochism.
Strong Language: Some mild language. The Warrior Within includes the gendered slur “b**ch.”
Nudity and Costuming: Many of the female characters are somewhat scantily clad throughout the franchise. This is particularly noticeable in The Warrior Within.
The plot of the first game strongly resembles the Disney version of Aladdin and takes cues from the original Arabian Nights. The developers were also inspired by Indiana Jones and Robin Hood. The second and third games are sequels.
The fourth game in the series, The Sands of Time, is widely regarded as one of the best and begins a slightly different story, though the unnamed Prince remains consistent. After stumbling across a vial—the Sands of Time, a time controlling device—the Prince inadvertently unleashes its power on the world, engulfing it in a chaotic sandstorm that turns the city’s inhabitants into monsters. Only the Prince, the traitorous Vizier, and the Indian Princess Farah are spared. Despite not trusting Farah, the Prince teams up with her to combat the sandstorm and Vizier. The two eventually consummate their relationship, but Farah is killed soon afterward. The Prince, in a rage, manages to reverse time to the night before the sandstorm occurred, and he reveals the Vizier’s treachery to the still-living Farah. In the end, the Prince leaves mysteriously after revealing to Farah that he knows a secret that, in this timeline, she had never told him.
The fifth game, The Warrior Within, received an M rating due to its increased level of sexualization and violence. The title is darker than previous installments. Seven years after the previous game, the Prince finds himself hunted by a beast called Dahaka; it is revealed that whoever released the Sands of Time (the Prince) must perish. He decides to travel to the Island of Time to stop the Sands from ever being created by the Empress who resides there. After meeting a woman named Kaileena, who agrees to help him, he is betrayed—Kaileena is actually the Empress, who has seen her own future and is determined to stop the Prince from killing her. Unfortunately, in defeating Kaileena, the Prince has inadvertently created the Sands, as they are made from Kaileena’s remains. After a complicated series of machinations in which the Prince attempts to avert his and Kaileena’s fates, the game ends in one of two ways, depending on the player’s actions—either Kaileena is killed, or she lives and the Prince sleeps with her. No matter the ending, the last scene is ominous. “Your journey will not end well. You cannot change your fate. No man can.”
The sixth game, the Two Thrones, sees Kaileena and the Prince returning to his home city. Unfortunately, with the timeline fractured, the Vizier from the third game is still alive, and he manages to unleash the Sands once again, making himself immortal in the process. The Prince is also infected by the Sands, and Kaileena is murdered. The Prince must face a Dark Prince, a version of himself bent on revenge. Meanwhile, he resumes his romance with Farah, who does not remember him. After defeating the Dark Prince (an internal, rather than external, battle) and the Vizier, Kaileena briefly returns in a magical form and cleanses the Prince of his infection. He awakens in Farah’s arms. It is implied through his words that the series up until this point has been the Prince reciting his story to Farah.
The seventh game, the Forgotten Sands, chronologically takes place between the fourth and fifth. It focuses on the Prince and his older brother, Malik. After Malik’s kingdom is attacked by an Ifrit named Ratash, Malik releases Solomon’s Army, an army of sand creatures. The Prince is aided by a djinn named Razia, who tells him that the only way to re-imprison Solomon’s Army is to reunite the two halves of the seal the Army came from. When confronting Malik about this, the Prince discovers that Malik does not intend to re-imprison the Army, but rather to defeat it and steal its powers. Malik is slowly being corrupted by Ratash’s influence. Ratash eventually possesses Malik, using the power to become immensely strong. Razia, the djinn, turns herself into a sword to help the Prince, who then defeats Ratash/Malik. This, sadly, kills Malik and Razia; in the end the Prince must travel back home to tell his father that Malik is dead.
The other games in the series are spin-offs and mobile games.
Prince of Persia’s themes include time travel, fate, and responsibility, as well as personal growth.
- The Warrior Within was criticized by many for being darker in tone than other installments in the franchise. Female characters were also more overtly sexualized. The franchise’s original creator was reportedly less than happy with the change in direction, and he vocalized his displeasure.
- The film version of the Sands of Time cast Jake Gyllenhaal, a white man, in the role of the Prince, who is explicitly supposed to be Persian. Other actors cast in the film were also not of Persian ancestry.
- If you were given the chance to go back and fix a mistake, would you take it?
- What do you think are some of the downsides of being able to simply fix past mistakes?
- Do you think it’s fair that so many women in this series are in support roles or are love interests for the Prince? How might this play into gender stereotypes?