Review: The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
Review copy provided by developer
We all remember the magic of opening up a great big storybook as a child and absorbing each and every page, right? It should be no surprise then that more than a few games have taken fables and fairy tales as inspiration for both their subject and style. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is one of the most recent to do that, and goes all in on both sides of that formula. While the story is a quintessential parable about trust and compassion, the presentation nearly outshines it with gorgeous hand-drawn art and an impressive level of detail in the storybook trappings. Perhaps these attentions are why the length and scope are rather limited, but in this case I would say the trade is worth it.
I won’t go into the specifics of the story since it’s such a major part of the appeal here, but you’ll get a proper introduction to the plot right away. Once the stage is set, you’ll find yourself on a journey with a very special princess who has taken on the task of guiding a blind prince to a witch. If they can reach their destination, the witch may be able to restore his sight. There’s a lot of dark and scary forest in the way though, full of ravenous beasts and confounding traps. The only way past is for the princess to use the full extent of her powers, which could jeopardize her budding relationship with the kindly prince.
The introduction of the game is a long and detailed one, heavy with text and emotional scenes as the Japanese narrator reads along. I want to give proper recognition to the localization team on this one for keeping the translated text clear and concise while also matching that fine old style of flowery fairy tale writing. Coupled with the unique hand-drawn art style, the story scenes are powerful here, hitting important emotional beats and leaving you unsure of what turns the tale might take next. Every area of the game is book-ended with these scenes so you’ll never have to wait long for your next fix.
You can rest assured you’re getting a fantastic story here in the best of the older traditions, which leaves the gameplay as the other side of the coin. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a puzzle platformer at heart, putting you in the enchanted shoes of the titular princess in her quest to bring her friend, the blind prince, to the witch deep within the forest. As the princess, you can take the prince’s hand to lead him around, as well as give him orders to walk somewhere or pick something up. You can jump and pick flowers and die from falling damage (as can he), which doesn’t leave a lot to do in princess form. Fortunately you can shapeshift at will to a towering wolf form, which is nigh invulnerable, can tear enemies to shreds, and does in fact inspire visible terror in your enemies.
Shifting between your two forms while you manage the prince is the main thrust of the game, and it’s not nearly as complicated as it might sound. Puzzles tend to focus on getting the prince past a nest of enemies, or on top of a platform you can easily scale as the wolf, or across tricky gaps. None of the puzzles are complex enough to stump anyone, I would think, though the controls are touchy enough to get you or him killed if you happen to slip off an edge or land in the wrong spot. There are some more unique challenges too, like riddles and the rather intense ending sequence, so across your journey you’ll have plenty to do with your powers of transformation and persuasion. There are even collectibles in the form of flowers and petals if you feel like complicating things further, spread across several lush and varied environments.
It’s a fantastic story with solid gameplay to back it up, and only a few points that weaken the package. As I mentioned, the controls can feel a bit loose and floaty, which is a problem that has hounded similar games like the Boy and His Blob remake. There’s also the length to consider, as even with the collectible hunting it’s around a 4-hour game. From the perspective of the narrative that’s just the right length, but folks looking for greater diversions or just more of this one might be left wanting by the end. Even so, games this beautiful and well-composed don’t come along every day. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a fabulous rendition of a fable in game format, offering a powerful story and solid gameplay with only a few flaws to be aware of.