The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is another showcase from Nippon Ichi Software‘s talented artists which cozily tells an endearing story to go along with its companionship puzzle-platforming. The visual presentation and the accompanied music have been well-crafted to cause resonance with the player, and viewer, especially during its storybook sequences advanced the tale forward. The same carries over onto the gameplay side of things even if its platforming is a tad rusty. The mechanics and puzzles are still of interest. Ultimately, the cute tale left a satisfying impression even with its dark and somber tones.
With the exception of a few effects for lighting and blur, every visible asset retains a hand-drawn aesthetic. The tale begins in this fashion as well on pages depicting the meeting of the two main characters. Every night the same wolf basks in the moonlight singing in a beautiful melody that echoes throughout the forest. One night a prince of royalty made a discovery and came to listen and being impressed decides to give his own round of applause to whomever was responsible for the beautiful voice he had heard. Every night following, he waited until the singing was over and clapped. The praise was something the wolf had never experienced before. For the sake of not spoiling the rest of this part of the story in-case you’ve yet to know, it isn’t long after until the prince becomes blind and the initial gameplay begins.
Reasons concerning a witch, the wolf is able to transform into a princess who keeps her true identity hidden in order to befriend the blind princess and guide him through a journey with good intentions and his best interest. Players control wolf/princess and must guide the blind prince through levels housing monsters and give orders to him as well to solve puzzles. The princess and the prince are both susceptible to one hit death as well as fall damage from what seems to be 2-3 times the amount their own height. While in wolf form (or her true self) the princess is exempt from both. Players can jump pressing B and claw attack by pressing Y. While as the princess, holding down Y near the prince will grab his hand and allow you to drag him along anywhere you go. At times it may feel like babysitting, but it never feels like a bad responsibility to have. In fact, the subtle expressiveness in the art style has its charm.
When unattended to, the prince hangs his arms in front of him with mouth open in worry hoping to latch onto something, while the princess lightly blinks once or twice in succession with a frown. However, the moment they lock hands, they both smile. It’s adorable in its own right to know that they have each other for what it’s worth. Should the prince die, the princess collapses to her knees and cries. What lends to its overall charm is just how pretty the game is. In handheld mode it’s definitely a pretty game. 1080p on the television does it justice, however. You can see every stroke of ink from the pen, so-to-speak, in the wolf’s fur, for example. The paper texture, sketching and colors are all crisp. From foreground to background, all art assets serve as different layers to set the scene. This is especially prevalent in the cut-scenes told as well. A woman’s soft voice narrates the scenes in Japanese to go along with the English text. Take as much time needed to read or view the scene as a prompt from the player is needed in order to read the next text and turn the page.
Maneuvering is fine and platforming gets the job done. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince won’t be remembered for its controls, however. Jumping can be floaty and and moving in general can feel a bit stiff. The paper aesthetic might help alleviate this a little. Navigation through levels has a deliberately slower pace. For instance, in order to solve some areas, weight is factored in. The princess and prince both each weigh 1 unit. A fragile bridge might only support one person so only one can walk across it at a time. The princess is able to give commands to the prince by using the d-pad. Pressing left or right will tell the prince to walk a certain amount of feet in one direction. The prince may also stop earlier by giving the same command. Pressing up or down will have the prince pick up whatever object is at his feet. In some cases, a bridge may actually needed to be broken, but 2 units may not be enough. Transforming into a wolf will change this as the wolf alone weighs as much as 2 people. Add the prince and a total of 3 is enough to break a way through certain gaps.
In cramped areas, the princess may not be able to transform back into a wolf. Likewise, being the princess might be needed in order to go through a narrow passageway. Many puzzles involve figuring out which is the safest passage for either. Some puzzles require 2 or more switches to be pressed at the same time in order to activate a platform or object. Bouncy mushrooms will offer a airtime advantage when jumped from, but they also become a safe landing zone when falling from high distances. Lanterns which the prince can carry might need a flame to be lit in order to light certain torches and even light the way in the dark. The puzzles aren’t the most challenging, aside from one completely absurdly obtuse puzzle riddled with… riddles, but even the game is aware by allowing players an immediate exit to the next level if they choose to not go the difficult way. In fact, players can bypass every level if they just wish to see the story. However, a certain amount of time spent in the level unpaused must be accumulate before players can skip the stage; roughly 10 minutes.
Collectibles are there for the taking. Levels contain a total of 5 petals to be collected. Occasionally, a whole flower is also added to that mix. Flowers can be picked from a patch and must be given to the prince in order for it to count. This may sometimes trigger an additional scene. While optional, both petals and flowers are good for unlocking entries in the Album and Collection menus.
The Album contains two categories: Flowers and Memories. All cut-scenes are saved under Memories and may be accessed and watched at any time. Keep in mind, there isn’t a way to exit replaying memories on the fly so players must advance through the text by skipping it until the end. The Flowers category gives a synopsis of the story for every flower that is unlocked.
Collection contains a fascinating look at in-game characters, locations, and monsters. For every number of petals collected a new entry gets unlocked. These are essentially blueprints giving a detail explanation of the thought process that went into what was created. For instance, a look at the Wolf will detail what went into its art style and the personality behind it from why its ears, eyes, claws, hooves, etc are the way they are. It’s a nice extra.
There are also in-game achievements. Some may require a level to be completed in a certain amount of time, while others may require no enemies to be defeated. Some are simple as letting the prince die once. Or 30 times. HD rumble isn’t used to a great extent. The game’s length is roughly 5 hours.
The music is fantastic. It hits the right tone for when you’re at the castle with percussion and brass or in the forest with atmospheric tunes and bagpipes. It’s one of the highlights to go along with the art.