It’s been 14 years since the good ol’ Prince of Persia titles. The Two Thrones will be celebrating their birthday soon and I wouldn’t go too far by saying that the series has not entered any sort of „second renaissance” after it had arguably peaked at Warrior Within and later fell down from grace. That sort of rebirth was attempted a few times and, sadly, the efforts — because of various reasons — came to naught, splitting the community into fans and anti-fans of newer releases. I’d say 2009 Reboot was a ray of hope for the series, a new direction it could have been headed towards, but the project being left after the first release further empowered the Trilogy as the golden age of the series with no real alternative. Sands of Time, Warrior Within and Two Thrones are the most renowned PoP titles out there but it won’t change the fact that the series is unfortunately dead.
The middle part of the Prince of Persia triptych is an exceptional game. Warrior Within is a dark, brutal and bloody testament of the Prince’s struggle with time and fate that was made great by its creative honesty and consistency in creating gloomy, unwelcoming environments. In that regard, even your first contact with the game is memorable, with the main menu written in red, sharp font and — of course — Stuart Chatwoods and Inon Zur’s bass-line accompanied by vocalizations (Warrior Within). Then the guitar kicks in and it’s becoming rather clear that a dozen or so hours you are about to spend with the game will lack fairytale tones and light moods.
The composers wrote music so attractive and catchy that sometimes difficult encounters with demonic hordes never lose intensity or quality.
Indeed, a big chunk of the score consists of powerful riffs and catchy tunes further diversified by ethnic aesthetics. Tracks such as At War with Kaileena of Struggle in the Library are difficult to listen without headbanging or tapping your foot and that alone seems to speak volumes about the game’s whole convention that Ubisoft decided to implement. Without judging undertones, Warrior Within is a great game for mostly brainless fun, where most of the problems can be solved by cutting down hordes of enemies in a bloody fashion, and the dark castle holding the events of the game is full of beautiful, dangerous and scantily-clad women. Consistency in using those seemingly banal elements keeps the entirety of the game afloat without letting it slow down for a moment. And the composers? The composers wrote music so attractive and catchy that sometimes difficult encounters with demonic hordes never lose intensity or quality.
The music will also not stop reminding the player, despite the gothic-like atmosphere, that he is far away in magical Persia.
Half of the game’s score was assigned to metal instruments and sounding. Hefty tracks kick the player into action, allowing him to create music videos on their TVs with Prince as the star mowing down armies of humanoid monsters with more and more inventive choreographies. Riffs and marching snares won’t let them soften their approach towards enemy battalions just asking to get slashed, cut and strangled. Not for a moment the action score allows us to forget about being an unstoppable fate-denying warrior full of violence, pumping us with power and determination. That musical convention really wrapped up the game’s design gravitating towards a simple, satisfying and empowering experience.
However, that’s not all. Compositionally or orchestrally, other part of the score takes its inspiration from Eastern tunes, whether in form of symphonic pieces used for cutscenes or dark ambient tracks accompanying the player as they are exploring the castle. With that said, the music will also not stop reminding player, despite the gothic-like atmosphere, that he is far away in magical Persia (again, because of ethnic instruments and vocalizations). Twisted and dark, yet still magical. And that’s where the score shines, because despite many moods the game fuses, it keeps a dreading tension in the air throughout its entirety. That’s why semi-metal music goes along nicely with symphonic pieces and ambience underscores.
Stuart Chatwood and Inon Zur gave it some edge and roughness, resulting in distinguishable, ruthless sound. .
In the end, Warrior Within is a game that focused all its effort into a brutal and fun convention in all of its aspects. It’s a paradise lost of the series, in my opinion, and the peak Ubisoft couldn’t reach for the second time and likely never will. Stuart Chatwood and Inon Zur gave it some edge and roughness, resulting in unmistakeable sound, and an experience of brutal and ruthless power. However, it is not a milestone, because as much as I love it, the music may seem repeatable and unapproachable for some, yet it serves its function more than well. So well I can’t hold myself from labelling it as good standalone album, showing its quality on gym tracks and tough days at work. It’s a dose of energy and an urge for a good fight.