Just in time for Valentines. The tiny tale about love, loss, and sorrow takes you back in time… a time when prince and princesses roam the land. It sets it up for a fantastic yet whimsical fairytale that made sure it was worthy for a Disney movie. If The Little Mermaid wasn’t already made. Which it is. It’s a three to four-hour time investment to set the game a close but it was well worth the effort.
Nippon Ichi Software’s “The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince” is as simple as it gets. Similarly to a Monster Hunter title where you Hunt Monsters or God Eater where the goal is to Eat Gods, you have a lying princess and a prince as blind as a rat. Brought together with fairytale storybook aesthetics, the opening moments start off slow with the introduction of a massive wolf armed with even more massive claws that was built to hunt. However this young wolf contradictory to its appearance loves to bask in the moonlight as she serenades the shrouded forest.
One night a prince as frail as he looks came to the forest which is known to be filled with monsters. There he heard of the wolf’s beautiful voice as she sings atop a cliff. But since monsters and humans never see eye to eye, the wolf immediately leaves after her performance to hide her true form.
But one night, unlike any other night, the determined prince, still as frail but not as blind, came up determined to see her maiden. Climbing up the cliff as to go unnoticed, this young prince receives a claw to the face by the panicked wolf who only wishes to block his eyes but instead robbed him of his sight.
After hearing the news that the prince was locked up in the castle, she tends to make things right by bringing him to the witch ruling the forest who could bring back his sight. But without a way to guide him, she asked to transform her into a human princess in exchange for her singing voice. Thus it begins, a journey to the shrouded forest of two people skipping and hopping hand in hand.
The game is a platformer-puzzle escort mission at best. Not the worst of descriptions but also not the best in practice. The wolf princess who can freely transform between wolf and human forms will be the person to pave the way forward as she claws her way against hordes of cute and innocent looking monsters as well as tasked with more intricate puzzle mechanics. While the blind prince will be the one that gets escorted… simple! You also get to order him around when you’re not together or when puzzles require you to do so. Like holding a torch because wolves hate fire for some reason, her family was probably killed by a forest fire but it’s a topic best left untouched just like the torch said the wolf.
Strangely enough, nothing mixed well in the game other than one cohesive story to follow. Fighting monsters are simply button mashing ‘til they die. The puzzles weren’t as brain teasing compared to other games to which I prefer not to speak of any. And the whole escort business falls apart as you feel chained down. At certain points, I just wish I could leave you alone and bring the witch instead. Simply put, the puzzles weren’t compelling me for more and its platforming bits could never drive me towards the right direction.
However, the characters are visually pleasing. The wolf who is obviously drawn by a three-year-old looks good enough to pass as a monster wolf than a totally different animal while her princess form offers quite the surprising relativeness towards her wolf form. The blind prince looks gorgeously simply in his rags. And everything in between, the witch, as well as the monsters you get to meet along the way, makes you rethink what monsters actually meant. The soundtrack elegantly portrays just the right tunes to set the mood and emotions for every level and detail towards the cutscenes. At the end of all of it, I saw myself shedding a tear or two for its right amount of longevity without the entire thing being dragged far too long.
To put it simply, it’s a tiny fairytale that just about anyone can enjoy. But saving what is otherwise a blatantly standard platformer-puzzle cannot be done. The slow pacing of the gameplay simply breaks the game apart when it can’t even drive you into wanting more. Despite all that will you be as blind as the prince to take on a game that only draws from its story? Or will you be a lying princess and saying I’ll love it anyway?