The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 14th February 2019
NIS America may not always release constantly great games and may make some confusing business decisions, I was always fond of their little 2D games like Yomawari. They´re based on an entirely in-house held game jam, where employees of the Japanese main office can develop their own ideas and the best one will likely be made into a full game. While all of them may not be masterpieces, they´re always a little interesting trip. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince may very well be a mix of the worst though.
In a world where the humans are scared of going into the cursed forest, a little prince finds himself enchanted by a lovely voice. However, when he goes to find out who it belongs to, he´s attacked by exactly this person out of fear and surprise: A female wolf. As a result, our prince is struck blind and imprisoned in the castle out of punishment. Tormented by her guilt, the wolf though
Given, the story part pretty much ends there and throws the player into the gameplay, only occasionally presenting some new story or events that never really manage to tell anything truly new or engaging. The way it delivers them is pretty neat though, at least in my eyes. Mainly through a narrator and longer passages of text, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince aims to create a feeling of being in a fairy tale, a core theme for this game as one might expect. It works surprisingly well with the classic story, key plot points and visuals, which should be even better for bigger fans of fairy tales than me.
This is also reflected in the lovely visuals. Featuring yet again the seemingly hand-drawn 2D style with minimal but serviceable animation, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince can create its own identity through the colour palette. Where the previous titles in this “series” mainly relied on washed out colours, we´re confronted with warmer ones here, as well as a really beautiful setting. Given, it still looks like a cheaper game, simply because of its origin and time NIS could dedicate to it but that has its own charme too. Combine that with the relaxing soundtrack, which could have been a bit more present, the atmosphere and presentation is yet again quite pleasing and catches my eye every time.
The one aspect I just can´t get to like
On the one hand, it heavily relies on “combat” since you can only fight in your wolf form but can´t escort the prince that way. Yet the combat is clunky, basically pushing enemies away from you with every hit but allowing for long combos with you space the first attack right … making it a hassle to approach enemies, who are often only a minimal challenge.
In addition the puzzles themselves can´t manage this balance between annoyance and clever design. Since you have to take your prince with you by holding his hand in your human form, the game risks at becoming a chore during levels that hard reset your progress or puzzles, forcing you into backtracking at its slow speed. What we´re presented with here is a mix of lengthy levels, that require a lot of pointless walking, along a puzzle design that is either too easy in random intervals or so mixed it´s not even obvious what your actual goal is. There are some generally neat ideas and cute moments where you simply climb a hill while watching those two character interact but in the end, it just doesn´t add up to an even experience.
So, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a charming game on paper and features some really beautiful art but as a game, it just doesn´t deliver to the feelings it invokes through them. Instead it´s an often frustrating walk through annoyment you could only play with huge breaks and for the art alone.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]