Video games that look like a storybook yet play like a puzzle platformer are nothing new so let's see if The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince has what it takes to stand out in this very specific yet oddly populated genre.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince has you play as a "princess". However, she's actually a wolf. The story begins with showing the wolf singing in the middle of the night while a curious prince listens to her lovely voice. One day, he decides to scale a cliff in order to see the woman with the beautiful voice yet in a nervous fit, the wolf accidentally blinds the prince before he can see her. She then travels to a witch who allows her to transform into a human princess whenever she wants. She then finds the prince who is being held captive in his castle. Upon rescuing him, the two go on a journey to see the witch in the hopes that she can give the prince's vision back.
Along the journey, you'll view many thought-provoking story segments as the princess adjusts to being a human and you'll be shown how the prince's unrelenting kindness is a frequent source of both annoyance and hope for the princess. It truly is a lovely story about what it's like to be human and as I said in the subtitle, if it was a movie, I'd definitely watch it.
Graphics and sound
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince features a stunning art style with gorgeous hand drawn character sprites and subtle environments. The campaign is divided into 5 chapters and each one is set in a different part of the forest which features its own distinct hues and terrain. Although the visuals are fantastic, I wish the wolf had a more detailed rendering because she's basically just a black shadow with two eyes on the side of her head. Anyway, the music fits the unique art style perfectly with plenty of soft orchestral pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, one issue is that there is a Japanese narrator and although she does a wonderful job, there is no English voice option. Considering there is only one speaking role, couldn't they hire an English voice actor and give players the option?
You play The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince as the princess and switch between her human and wolf form. The former allows her to guide the prince by the hand while the latter gives her the opportunity to jump higher, attack, and break through flimsy platforms. Most of the puzzles involve standing on switches and commanding the prince to walk short distances or pick up objects. Everything is extremely easy to figure out which makes a lot of the puzzles feel tedious as you go through the motions and execute your plan. The only time that I got stuck was on a few puzzles that involve entering numbers in order to unlock doors but I eventually figured them out. Just so you know what I'm talking about and for future reference if you decide to play this game, here are those puzzles:
- One and two. Two and three. Three and one. Unless you cross them, the road will not open. [Answer is 2-6-3]
- Large birds leading a stray person have four wings on the right side, ███ht on the left... (I can't read part of it...) [Answer is 8-4]
- Many collected items decorate the witch's garden. Decorate this place (a continuous wailing basket). Count the red, yellow, and blue gems. [Answer is 5-9-3]
Aside from figuring out puzzles, you'll also have to guide the prince through many platforming challenges. While holding his hand, you can freely walk around and jump although you may break flimsy bridges if you're both on them simultaneously. That actually leads me to the biggest problem I have with The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince; the mechanics are far too sensitive. For example, you can leap off mushrooms. Often, the princess will make it yet the prince can fall short and plummet to his death even when you're holding his hand. You'll also encounter creatures that throw you but if you don't land on a higher platform, you'll perish from falling too far. Having to play minutes of gameplay over again because a monster jumped out of nowhere or you missed a jump is incredibly irritating.
On the plus side, there are some fun collectibles to find in The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. Each stage has 5 flower pedals to collect and some even include a flower that you can give the prince. The flowers unlock text-only chapters of a side-story called "A Witch's Tale" and the pedals unlock design sketches with complementary notes which are rather interesting. Thankfully, you can revisit any completed level in order to find anything that you missed and you can even skip stages whenever an internal timer runs out.
Vs. My Memory of Us
I recently played through an indie game called My Memory of Us. I don't usually like comparing games in my reviews but these games are very similar as they both involve holding hands and guiding your partner through a puzzle-filled adventure. The reason I wanted to compare these games is because My Memory of Us is an inexpensive indie while The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is published by a well-known company yet the former is more enjoyable in almost every way: there's a ton of variety and some very clever puzzles, the gameplay isn't stiff like it is here, and the narrator is even Sir Patrick Stewart. Talk about going above and beyond! Anyway, although I love a lot of NIS America's games, the fact that this one is surpassed by a low budget indie is quite disappointing.
Although The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince's story and presentation are beautiful, its often frustrating and tedious gameplay makes it a difficult game to enjoy. Because of that, it would have been a better experience if it was an anime instead.
- + Lovely thought-provoking story
- + Gorgeous art style and fitting music
- + Collectibles add some replay value
- - Sensitive mechanics result in far too many accidental and surprise deaths
- - Puzzles are mostly too easy and tedious
- - Stiff gameplay / No English voice option