As a fan of Grimm’s fairy tales, I’m always interested in an underlying message that the story is trying to tell. Sure, they’re usually pretty bleak and gloomy, but I think that’s what I like most about them. Sadly, it’s not too often that I see this implemented prominently in video games outside of a few small references here and there.
Well, it seems NIS America is here to fix that with their newest puzzle adventure, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. With a story and message ripped right out of classic fairy tales, I was happy to see what the publisher would bring to the somber party. Thankfully, with an amazing design direction ripped straight out of a children’s storybook, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, tells a beautiful story, albeit a short one.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince definitely takes its time setting up its story and characters. We are introduced to a prince, who enjoys breaking the rules and venturing out of the safety of the kingdom into the monster-filled woods to enjoy the foliage and flowers. One day, he hears singing coming from within the woods, and every night afterward, he would clap after the song is finished.
It just so happens that the singing was from a man-eating wolf who began to appreciate the prince’s praise. One night, she doesn’t hear his claps only to look down and see him climbing up a cliff towards her. Without much thought, she swipes at his eyes to conceal her identity but ends up blinding the poor prince. After becoming disfigured, the prince is thrown into prison. The wolf promises to help the prince, however, in order to keep him from figuring out who she is, she makes a deal with a witch to have the power to change into a princess at will in exchange for her singing voice. Her idea is to get the prince to the witch to cure him of blindness, and so their adventure begins.
The story relies heavily on making the friendship between the two characters believable, and it succeeds in doing so by making the prince rely so heavily on the guidance of the wolf. Throughout their entire adventure, they will share interactions that establish their personalities, but what I enjoyed most was how the story gives an insight into what the princess is thinking. Ultimately, she is harboring a huge secret and is at odds with herself as she fights against her natural instincts and does her best to protect the prince to see him through the woods.
Gameplay has the players control the wolf and hold the hand of the prince to lead him through various themed levels. Each level introduces new ways to interact with the prince which makes the puzzle platforming increase in difficulty over the course of the game. As far as the game’s puzzles go, I never felt truly challenged or thought that the game was being unfair. It’s evident that the game is more focused on progressing the narrative than making the player pull out their hair to figure out how to progress. In the case that a player can’t possibly figure out a puzzle, the game even has a “Skip Stage” option. With that said, there is one extremely difficult puzzle in the game that can be skipped, but my ego just wouldn’t allow that. The puzzle revolved around using riddles to figure out four-digit code, and it probably added an extra hour on my runtime trying to figure it out. Honesty, I wish the game had more moments like this that are optional but really fun to wrap your brain around.
Puzzle design is fairly straightforward, but expect to die more than a few times while trying to get through these levels. Players will balance gameplay between using the prince’s willingness to follow direction and the princess’ strength. Over the course of the game, puzzles evolve so it’s rare to encounter the same puzzles in the levels outside of more difficult versions of them. In the later parts of the game, players will be able to give more direction to the prince which sets a good pace for the game’s mechanics as I felt like I was always learning new skills.
The story of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince can be completed in about three to five hours with additional time to find some flower collectibles hidden throughout the levels for an added challenge to players. Although the progression of gameplay is rather linear, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince left me most intrigued by its storybook character designs and characters. However, there just isn’t much left to discover after you’ve completed the quest and there’s nothing here to demand that you jump back in and replay it. With that said, given that the game can be completed in a matter of hours and the stages can be skipped, this could be a game to introduce to casual gamers as an introduction to the medium.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince tells a wonderful story that stuck with me well past the conclusion of the game. It’s a classic tale of a prince and princess who were never meant to meet, but against all odds found a way to become friends. The lessons learned throughout the game are ones to hold onto, and I never felt let down during the story segments of the adventure. But, the game’s low difficulty and short runtime make it one that might turn huge puzzle platformer fans away.
I had a great time with The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. The beautiful level designs and characters made every moment of the game a joy to discover. What’s more interesting, is how satisfied I was with the conclusion of the story, but I was still left wanting more from this world and these two characters. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is an emotional adventure of a friendship that should have never been — prepare for a lot of feels while playing this game because it’s so easy to get attached to these characters, even for the short time you are with them.
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