Have you ever played a video game in which you become so emotionally attached to the characters and their lives, that it literally brings tears to your eyes multiple times? Recent games such as Yakuza 6 and My Memory of Us come to mind as they left me a wreck. Well, over the last few weeks I’ve had the honour of playing the latest game which grabbed me by the heartstrings and tugged away until my vision became blurry; The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince from developer Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America.
This beautifully hand-drawn puzzle platformer has everything you’d ever want in a game, intuitive puzzles, gorgeous visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, an interesting story, and an emotional rollercoaster in terms of its narrative. So, let’s take a closer look and see why The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is currently my favourite game of 2019…
Once upon a time, there was a hideous wolf with four eyes who lived within a dark, evil forest. However, despite its hideous appearance, the wolf had a beautiful singing voice. It would regularly sit atop a cliff and sing to the moon, far away from the dangers and terrors who reside within the woods below, and out of listening range of anything living. Unfortunately, the wolf didn’t know that the human Prince from the nearby palace would usually listen in as he sat down below, keeping his presence unknown.
On a night like any other, the Prince decided he would finally let the mysterious singer know how he felt, so he applauded the wolf once it had finished singing. The wolf was in shock and didn’t know what to do with itself, especially as the Prince decided to climb to the top of the cliff in order to see the beautiful stranger who had been singing directly to his heart. However, the wolf has instincts, it’s primal instinct was to slaughter and eat humans, so as the Prince saw it’s ugly appearance and began to scream, the wolf lashed out and clawed his face. The Prince fell and was carted away by his guards, forever blinded by the instinctual attack by the wolf.
The wolf wasn’t a bad creature, it cared about the Prince and what had happened more than anything before in its life. So, it visits the Witch, who resides within the forest and requests some assistance to get the Prince his sight back. There’s one issue, the Prince has to come to see her directly, in the middle of the forest – a request which wouldn’t be possible due to his fear of the wolfs horrific appearance. So, the Witch casts a spell and gives you the ability to transform between a Princess and a wolf at will so that you may guide him to her and restore his vision.
And thus begins our 5-7 hour adventure; playing the role of the Liar Princess, who must keep her identity a secret from the wounded Prince, you must guide him through the treacherous woods as you protect him from all the dangers which will stop at nothing until they’ve devoured him.
Controlling your urges
One of the main reasons I absolutely love The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is because of it’s very clever and imaginative puzzles. Our protagonist is the wolf/Princess who can swap her form on command by tapping Triangle on the controller. Whilst in Wolf-mode, you can jump much higher, attack or ward off creatures, walk by the terrors of the forest without them attacking you, and throw about large rocks. However, as a wolf, you can’t hold the hand of the Prince as he’ll work out who you are! This is why you have the ability to transform.
As the Princess, you can grab the hand of the Prince and guide him through the perilous platforming as you avoid all of the creatures (who now, in human form, will attack you on sight). You can also pick up and present hidden flowers to him, as he’s an avid flower lover, and fit into smaller passageways and holes which are too small for the big wolf.
As you progress throughout the game, you’ll gain the ability to tell the prince to do things, such as walk a set distance in either direction or pick up and drop objects. Having all three characters and their own abilities to play with, the puzzles later on in the game become much more elaborate and thought-provoking as you work out what you need to do in order to succeed.
Utilising the combination of all three protagonists (technically two, but I’m saying three), the puzzles start off nice and easy until they become more advanced later on. However, the environmental puzzles never feel too difficult, even when you have to replay an area a few times over because you didn’t realise an enemy would spawn and kill the Prince. A lot of the environmental puzzles are simply moving the prince onto a platform then raising it, hitting a switch, dropping a block onto a pressure plate, or remotely controlling the prince as you adjust the landscape. Nothing too difficult yet very relaxing and lots of fun to play.
Then we come onto the actual puzzles. There isn’t a lot of these, maybe three or four, but they will test you towards the end of the game. I’m not going to go into too much detail, as I want you to experience them for yourself, but one of them simply requires you to count the number of an object in an area, whereas another one gives you four blocks of text and you have to figure out a four-digit combination from what you’re given. I’m not going to lie, the latter one really made me think about what it could be.
As I’ve stated above, I really enjoyed the puzzles, even if they were quite simplistic for the most part. Having a collection of straight forward environmental problems makes the game feel a lot more accessible for people of all ages, although I imagine younger people may need a bit of help with the puzzles I’ve mentioned above. It really helps that the controls feel very solid as well, so things such as jumping and moving about the world felt a lot more enjoyable than it would if it was floaty and non-responsive.
There is a lot of combat within The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, but it’s another rather simplified mechanic. Playing as the Wolf, the only one who can fight, you simply push one button to slash at whatever terrors come your way. The creatures themselves all look rather horrific, cute, and well designed (at the same time). From small striped badger-rats to terrifying frog-flies, each one looks like they’ve just stepped out of a dark manga book.
When I was replaying the game in order to get the final few trophies, I noticed that there are a few which require you to complete a level without killing anyone. Now, you’d think that is impossible, especially if you’ve seen the levels it’s referring too. However, I found out that the creatures are just as scared of the wolf as the Prince is! this means that you can turn into the wolf and slowly walk towards them and they’ll cower back in fear. So, even though there’s a lot of combat in the game as you protect the Prince’s life at any cost, you can technically complete a number of the levels without hurting anyone if you wish – just stand on your rear legs and ‘look fierce’.
Such a beautiful sight!
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a freaking gorgeous game to look at. You can see the images I’ve posted within this review, the whole game feels like you’re playing a Manga novel. From the saturated colours which create an eerie atmosphere in the forest to the bright and colourful flowers which grow within safe areas, the game is a visual masterpiece, the definition of art being displayed via a video game. Even though some of the gameplay elements or mechanics may seem a little simplistic if you strip away all of the visuals, the visuals are what gives the game a lot of charm and makes it stand out from other similar games in the genre.
For me, playing the game was like playing an interactive storybook. Not like the Telltale games, but like I was a child who had the story of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince told to me at night by my parents, only to be whisked away within my dreams to reenact the story as the book came to life in front of me. Another thing I thought was cool was the expressions on the faces of our characters. I know it’s only a small thing, but as enemies start attacking, the prince will have a look of shock on his face, as he can’t see anything, only hear the dreadful noises. Yet once you turn into a human and grab his hand, you see a smile on his face as he knows everything will be alright as long as you’re there to guide him.
It’s small things like that which shows how much love and care went into putting this game together.
The sound of music
I’ve mentioned this before in a previous review but I feel that if you want an emotional game to make an impact with a lot of people, you need to get the music spot on. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince absolutely nails the soundtrack. It has gentle and very Japanese music playing as you work your way through the calm puzzle areas, then it really ramps up as it sounds like a Tim Burton movie during the intense moments towards the end. It’s all very fantastical yet oozing with culture.
However, once you approach the emotional scenes within the game – The mixture of silence and music really helps create a more intense situation. I’ve played through the game fully three times now, as the trophies became corrupted on my first playthrough, and the ending has me in tears each and every time. My only wish would be that we can purchase the soundtrack from somewhere within Europe. I’ve looked online and I can only see the soundtrack as part of the Physical edition in America, as Europe is digital-only. The last time I played a game from NIS with a great soundtrack, The Witch and Hundred Knight, I bought the Japanese collectors edition which contains the soundtrack on two CDs.
As a side note, just in case you weren’t aware, the narration throughout The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is in Japanese with English subtitles. I don’t mind this as I play a lot of Japanese games, but some people may not like having to read the text.
First 30 mins:
Once I was absorbed within its beautiful world, I never wanted The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince to ever end. The visuals are stunning, the music is enchanting, the gameplay is addictive, and the story is emotional. Sure, you could see the game as one big escort mission, as you’re escorting the Blind Prince to the witch in the forest to restore his sight, but the platforming, puzzles, and combat all come together perfectly to deliver a truly emotional and magical story.
If you’re looking for a game to relax with or a nice easy platinum which requires nothing but your attention as you work your way through the many puzzles and find all the hidden items, then The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is perfect for you. For everyone else, if you like the look of just one of the images in this review, you should pick the game up on release, you won’t regret it.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
- - Amazing visuals with beautifully hand-drawn characters and vivid lighting
- - A soundtrack I could listen to for hours non-stop
- - A truly emotional and magical story
- - Really fun to complete environmental puzzles as well as tricky logical puzzles
- - Very addictive, I couldn't stop playing until I'd finished the story
- - No physical release in Europe
- - No Vita version outside of Japan