The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software
Published By: NIS America
Category: Puzzle, Platformer
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher NIS America is known for providing more unique indie experiences, and this is in large part to a contest they hold where developers can formulate their own experimental game ideas. Yomawari and The Firefly Diary arose from this initiative, and now developer Nippon Ichi Software is bringing over their title The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince as the most recent winner of this competition. After playing, I can see why this was the winner, as this charming and unique storybook tale has plenty going for it, even with some gameplay faults.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is very much like a fairy tale in almost every regard. It’s a story of love and sacrifice as original as it is timeless from a storytelling perspective. The game begins with a wolf singing atop a precipice and there is a prince at the bottom of the precipice who is admiring the wolf’s song. However, due to the steep cliff in front of him, he cannot see who sings it. The Prince is determined to see the singer and shower them with praise, so he sets himself to climbing the wall.
When he reaches the top, however, the wolf lashes out and he sees the wolf for a brief second before she swipes and takes away his eyesight. The wolf realizes too late what she had done and she sets out now to do all in her power to help return the Prince’s eyesight, but this will come at a great personal cost. The wolf assumes the form of a princess and takes to leading the blind Prince through the woods, so that he may meet with a wish-wish granting witch. However, if the Princesses true form is to ever be revealed, than her chance to save the Prince’s eyesight and right her wrongs will be gone forever and the guilt she’d have to live with would be insurmountable.
After this comprehensive intro, there isn’t a great amount of story set-up beyond this and the rest of the story is told in brief intermissions between chapters. The gameplay uses the same sort of slow and floaty physics engine we’ve seen in other NIS America releases. However, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is much more forgiving and much less cumbersome than some similar titles. The gameplay isn’t really as much about platforming as it is about puzzle solving.
In essence it’s all about large escort missions in which obstacles block you from getting the Prince from point A to point B. It wouldn’t be too far off to think of the Prince as a Lemming in how he’s controlled, but he’s not exactly a disposable one. To get the Prince anywhere, you’ll need to hold his hand and guide him as the Princess. This isn’t just a press of a button, but an actual hold. Jumping while holding hands with him will make him jump in sync with you, but you’ll need to be careful as fall damage can affect the both of you.
As you progress through the game new environmental obstacles will pop up to use in your puzzle platforming, like mushrooms that can be used to bounce higher or negate your fall damage. You’ll come across switches, moving platforms, riddle based puzzles, creatures that can toss you around, and plants that can launch projectiles. Aside from one puzzle, I never actually found any puzzle to be too difficult to figure out. The bite-sized nature of the puzzles helped the progression move at a consistent and good pace.
You’ll also unlock different ways to command the Prince as you progress, so that he can walk short distances without you or lift and move objects as the Princess is unable to do this on her own. There is combat in The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince too and if a human approaches an enemy, they’re almost guaranteed to die in an instant. However, the Princess can transform into a wolf at any time to fight the enemies. This combat isn’t exactly meant to be fun, but really is just another puzzle solving mechanic and another obstacle that stops the Prince from getting to point A to point B.
While solving some of the puzzles and fighting some of the enemies can be somewhat fun, the gameplay never felt fulfilling or satisfying. Where The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince truly shines is, of course, in its incredible artwork. Just as the story feels like a fairy tale, the game itself looks like a book you may have read as a kid or are actually reading to a child now. I absolutely adored the cut-out effect of the characters and beautiful background art that accompanied each environment. There is a lack of animation and some things do look out of place, but overall it’s just like a storybook come to life.
The characters, enemies, and the areas look incredible and they’re all sold even further with what I consider some of the best music I’ve heard in a game in some time. Many of the songs invoke a heartwarming charm with a calming, relaxing, and beautiful tone. There aren’t too many different tracks which is a shame, but what they have is absolutely fantastic and brings back some great moments from classic Disney cartoons. Voice acting is used very sparingly with just a voice of a narrator reading the fairy tale, which is only in Japanese but it’s done well and translation is on-point.
If you struggle with any chapters, you can utilize a ‘Skip Stage’ feature which you probably won’t need to use, but the younger player may appreciate to just see the story. There’s also in-game art galleries, trophies, stage selects and an album that can replay old cutscenes for you. My only real complaint comes from the distinct lack of options available while playing. The little bits that are present are mostly serviceable, but I know some people tend to find vignettes to be somewhat smothering and irritating. Also, the length to complete the main story is only about 4-5 hours long, which I feel is about right for the title, but some may feel this is too short.
Overall, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince excels in the art, presentation, and music departments, but is held back by its gameplay, simple puzzles, and lackluster combat. It is a short, but adorable puzzle-platformer that will give you the feeling of being inside a fairy tale. While it’s far from perfect, fans of the genre will find plenty of enjoyment with the story alone.