A new type of fairy tale.
One of my favorite things about publisher NIS America is that they consistently bring over games that I would never be able to play otherwise. They rekindled my love for SRPGs with Disgaea and have localized some of the best JRPGs of the last generation (here’s looking at you, Ys VIII). Today sees the release of a unique new title called The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, a beautifully animated side scrolling puzzle adventure. Say that sentence ten times fast. Before I even began this one, I had doubts that it would be something I would like. As I loaded up The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince for the first time, however, I became quickly enamored with the story, characters, and gameplay, and it swept me away with each passing level.
In The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, you take the role of the liar princess, as it were. She’s actually a wolf with a beautiful singing voice. Each night, she would sing on top a high cliff and, over time, drew the attention of a doting prince. He fell in love with her voice and came to listen each night, and as the evenings passed, she grew to love his attention. One night, however, the prince decided that he wanted see the girl behind the voice and climbed the cliff to catch a glimpse. Terrified of being seen as a monster – something hunted by the humans – the wolf swiped the prince to prevent him from climbing. In doing so, she accidentally took out his eyes. Because of this, the prince was imprisoned, a useless heir to his kingdom. The wolf missed the prince and his appreciation of her voice, so she finds an infamous witch, trades her singing voice to become a princess, and sets out to save the prince and reclaim his eyes. The story is much more detailed than that, but it’s such a lovely little tale that I don’t want to ruin the finer nuances. Needless to say, the game features characters with some of the better character growth I’ve seen in gaming recently.
Gameplay in The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a simple system that gradually gains complexity as you progress through the game. Players can transform from the princess to the wolf with the press of the Triangle button, which is the only means to fight off the various monsters in the woods you’re traveling through. You need to strategically shift between forms while keeping the blind prince safe. As you continue, more options become available to you, like the ability to ask the prince to move and stand on a switch or pick up items. Additionally, the game provides increasingly difficult puzzles overcome that involve each of your recently acquired abilities to clear. The end result is satisfy puzzler that doesn’t become over difficult for the player but is still rewarding.
Visually, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince plays like a side scrolling children’s book. It’s a beautiful, hand drawn aesthetic that, when combined with its touching narrative, presents a powerful aesthetic and delivery. The colors are constantly drained of saturation, and the characters are pale or stark and static black. As you traverse each level, however, you’re greeted with shocks of color that vivify the experience. The art style, to me, really helps drive the narrative.
Unfortunately, the game may suffer in the eyes of many due to its sound direction. The Liar Princess and Blind Prince is narrated, of course, but it’s completely in Japanese. Fortunately, it’s never directly narrated while you’re platforming, so you can always concentrate on reading when necessary. Some fans thoroughly enjoy Japanese voice acting, but many will steer clear of games that don’t feature an English dub. I personally prefer an English dub, but I’ll never turn away potentially good games based on voice acting languages alone. With that said, it’s unfortunate that the market for this game probably shrunk due to the Japanese voicing – because it’s a touching experience with enjoyable gameplay.
When considering whether snag a copy of The Liar Princess and Blind Prince, you really don’t need to think too much about it. At $39.99, the game is relatively inexpensive for the content you get (especially if you grab the storybook edition of the game). I’m always a sucker for a good, meaningful story, and this one has everything I could dream of within. This is not really a niche game, or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. Platformer, puzzle, and side scrolling fans all can find something to enjoy in this one, and fans of narrative driven games should, too. I highly recommend this one.