Monday, April 27, 2009

µReview: Prince of Persia [-Ending]

**Warning: there are spoilers in this post. If you want to stay blissfully ignorant about the ending of PoP until you play it, STOP READING NOW**

There have been a lot of complaints about the ending to PoP. If you haven't played it, but don't care about spoilers, here's the synopsis:

Elika's father, the last king of the Ahura, has released Ahriman, the dark god of corruption. He did it to bring Elika back to life after she took a nasty fall somewhere in the decaying city. She came back to life with the power to re-trap Ahriman; which you set about helping her to do. You become rather fond of her during your escapades. But, of course, she has to die (again) to defeat the god.

This really should be the end of the game. It fits quite nicely and, while bittersweet, concludes the tale. Ahriman is trapped, the land is saved, and you are left to rebuild or move on. The credits even start to play as you carry Elika's lifeless body from the restored tree in the temple garden to the altar on the steps outside. It feels ended here.

Only the game doesn't end. Ahriman is trapped, but not for ever. The Ahura are scattered, the cities are crumbling, the land is dying, and Ormazd, the god of light, is nowhere around. Also, you may love her. So you undo everything: you cut the tree, bring her back to life, and free Ahriman again.

I actually don't mind that ending. It fits too, and it opens the game for the Epilogue (via DLC) and sequels. What chafes me is the false sense of choice you are being given. The entire game has been about false or shallow choices. Which way to go. Who to fight, and when. When to talk. All meaningless in the face of the linear and driving narrative.

Should you save Elika, and release Ahriman? You must, the game has no other ending. I suppose you could turn off the console, put the game on the shelf. Walk away. That is a choice, of sorts. Only you can't, otherwise the rest of the story makes no sense.

Don't tell me there was no way to write it. Elika could have come to life by other means. Arhiman could have gotten free on his own. It didn't have to be at my hand. I should have had the choice.

1 comment:

  1. But turning off the console really was the choice. You chose to venture out and cut down that first tree and even after seeing it's effects on the land you cut another and another and another before finally breaking the very seal you worked so hard to fix. I think you missed the brilliance of this ending in that you knew what you were doing, and you chose it all by yourself, you wanted to see more, and so you made the same greedy choice that the prince himself made.