"Even Baldur's Gate 3 became so good because of Early Access," which is why the Dead Cells devs are using the same trick for their roguelike Prince of Persia

The Rogue Prince of Persia
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Rogue Prince of Persia was a big surprise when its existence first came to light, and developer Evil Empire knows it. The studio is starting a series of community update videos to explain why this game exists and what you expect from it, and the first entry in that series includes some very interesting tidbits.

"Hands up, it's a strange one," Evil Empire marketing manager Matt Houghton admits in a community update video. It's launching as an Early Access game, it's coming from Evil Empire, the studio that originally spun up to create Dead Cells DLC, and it comes hot on the heels of another 2D Prince of Persia game released just a few months ago. These videos, then, are attempts to explain "just what the hell is going on."

With support for Dead Cells coming to an end, the devs at Evil Empire now "just want to make our own games, not just work on other people's," as Houghton explains. The Rogue Prince of Persia is, of course, still somebody else's IP even if it's being developed from the ground up at Evil Empire, and the genesis of the licensing deal sounds like pure happenstance. 

"Around five or six years ago, some members of Evil Empire were at GDC, the convention for game developers, and they had a dinner with some people from Ubisoft," Houghton says. "Refreshments were flowing, and someone threw out the idea, 'wouldn't it be cool if we could use what we learned on Dead Cells and make our own 2D action platformer version of Prince of Persia?' Obviously, everyone said, 'well yeah, that's a good idea, we'll see,' and then life continued on." Eventually, Evil Empire submitted a formal pitch for its Prince of Persia game, and Ubisoft contracted them to make it.

Since then, Houghton says "we've had a small team of just 15 to 20 people working on the game for the last three years." Evil Empire is primarily known for its work on Dead Cells, and The Rogue Prince of Persia is similarly a roguelike action platformer, but Houghton says you shouldn't expect the new game to be a rehash of the studio's previous work.

"I want to make it clear that this is not a reskin or a clone," Houghton says. "We use what we learned on that game for sure, but we were taken to make a Prince of Persia game, and that is what we've done. This is a game designed from the beginning to be a Prince of Persia game first and foremost. A smaller version, yes, but a Prince of Persia nonetheless."

Despite Prince of Persia's origins as a 2D platformer - a relatively slow-paced cinematic platformer, at that - The Rogue is predominately inspired by the more modern entries, emphasizing "fluid acrobatic traversal" and "fast-paced combat."

The Rogue Prince of Persia hits Steam Early Access next month, and Houghton says that's "a deliberate choice for how we want the game to evolve. We saw how Early Access helped the development process of Dead Cells, and of course other great indie games like Hades, Subnautica, and Slay the Spire." Houghton also notes that "even Baldur's Gate 3 became so good because of Early Access."

Check out our hands-on preview of The Rogue Prince of Persia if you're looking for more on what to expect from the game. 

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.