I will not spend time comparing this installment of the Prince with its predecessors, but will focus on couple of main issues I am having with this game.
First of all, let me say that this game is incredibly beautiful. Some of the levels are mesmerizing, especially when you revisit them after a healing. I would be happy if there was a 2 hours movie comprised only of scenes from the game that i could play in the background as some kind of an elaborate screen-saver.
The mechanics of the game-play are not hard to grasp, but very soon after the initial novelty, the moves you will be using throughout the game become very stale. The "identity" move also basically performs itself, so you will often have a eeling that the game plays itself. The adventure and its tasks do not present a serious challenge, except that you might get lost in the start (which is more a frustration than a challenge), since the map you will be using is not very precise, but more of a overview of a general direction you are heading.
My main objection is the fighting though. First of all, the introductory fight is quite easy but does not manage to instruct you in any tangible way about what exactly are you supposed to do. I need to say that I am not expecting a kind of "hand holding" through something that is meant to be understood through playing itself, but the basics should have been better explained, and then the fights themselves made challenging. Like this, the mechanics of fights are vague at best, it took me a long time before I could do some moves with any certainty. The 'whack-a-mole' mechanics of defending yourself also get very tiring and frustrating. Or maybe I am just a lousy player. That I do not know :p
The worst "offender" though was the Epilogue (which is downloadable content (DLC) or even sold with some versions of the game), which present us with the same boss fight over and over... and over and over and over and over... and over... and over again. Now believe me that writing this sentence was actually *more* fun than playing the Shapeshifter boss fights in the Epilogue. Did the developer want to get a small expansion out as soon as possible so they just used whatever they already had? And even though the boss fights are just one aspect of this kinds of games, some variety is expected.
This repetitiveness is probably an outcome of the fact that Prince himself does not ever change weapons or in the fact that he is limited in his movement - he cant jump easily, cant use different speed of walking or running, cant use the environment directly (unless it is designed to be used), etc.
The most disappointing thing for me was that from the beginning till the very end, Prince learned absolutely nothing new, nor did any new abilities open up, which can be explained by the fact that they had to keep the bosses on the same level (since you can choose your own path of playing through the game, so what was the first boss for me could very well be last boss for you), but I still felt that sense of progress of the character itself, besides the obvious progression of the story line, was very lacking.
The biggest pluses, besides the design and art direction: music is excellent, atmospheric and energizing when it is suited for either, the dialogues and the story line are not bad, though sometimes cliche (but hey, no one is expecting Proust in this setting), the characters are likable and engaging, and even though some of his jokes were kinda lame, the Prince is a well rounded game character.