Puzzle-platforming action combat with the ability to rewind time!
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is available free for a limited time on Uplay. This title is mainly a puzzle-platformer, but also features a fun action combat system and a handful of time-manipulating tricks.
As with many games in the puzzle-platforming genre, this title focuses on a specific mechanic to drive gameplay and level design. The mechanic used here is the ability to manipulate time - from rewinding everything back a moment to temporarily freezing things in place. While this concept has been used in a handful of games prior, The Sands of Time is probably one of the most well-known and best implemented examples of short-term time manipulation prior to Braid.
The combination of parkour platforming, action combat, puzzle-solving and time manipulation might sound a little intimidating at first, but they're introduced gradually while playing. This smooth introduction of game mechanics is part of what made Portal such a huge success, and I have to imagine that its creators took a few notes from The Sands of Time's approach. As the Dagger of Time's powers unlock, you realize just how well this game's elements fit together. Ok, I'm done gushing over this game's mechanics now, let's move on.
Aesthetically speaking, The Sands of Time is impressive but a little dated. A number of locations are beautifully crafted and can be viewed from multiple angles due to the variant camera controls available. Unfortunately, the game's textures aren't nearly as detailed as what we're used to today. The brightly colored characters stand out from the somewhat muted backgrounds. Combined with the lower quality textures though, you sometimes feel like you're watching a cartoon movie more than playing a game. It doesn't detract from the gameplay, but the fact that an HD remaster exists (sadly only on PS3 as far as I know of) means that I'm not the only one to notice it could use a graphical upgrade.
While I'm not particularly enthused to install yet another launcher in the form of Uplay, I certainly can't argue with the price (currently free) or quality of game offered in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. If you haven't played it yet, grab it while you can!