Undoubtedly, Nippon Ichi Software is fascinated with the type of oral tales once collected and retold by the Brothers Grimm. The Witch and The Hundred Knight, htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, and A Rose in the Twilight, have all incorporated fairy tale-like elements, interweaving magic, animism, and an undercurrent of tragedy into their interactive stories. With the release of The Liar Princess and The Blind Prince, the Gifu-based studio revisits these familiar motifs, recounting the type of narrative found in a leather-bound anthology of ancient folklore.
A Concert of Calamity
The title opens as a wolf is singing an evocative melody at the edge of a cliff. Unbeknownst to her, a wandering prince hears the wolf’s nocturnal performance. Enamored by the singing, he returns for several evenings. Eventually, curiosity prompts the prince into climbing the precipice, to see who is behind the music. But just as the young royal reaches the top of the crag, the wolf attempts to cover the prince’s eyes to protect her beastly identify. But her sharp claws inadvertently lacerate the young heir’s face, blinding him and leaving him bloody.
Although the wolf usually feeds on humans, she feels responsible for the defacement. To make amends, the wolf visits a witch who is able restore the prince’s vision. But in order to accomplish this, the wolf has the lead the sightless prince by the hand, escorting him to the sorceress. But since the wolf’s sharp claws would immediately divulge her true identify and frighten the prince, the witch gives the Wolf the ability to shapeshift into human form.
Varying Visual Styles
Subtly, Liar Princess shifts its visual style to reflect the tenor of each scene. Occasionally, you’ll be able to perceive the pen strokes used to draw each character, recalling the hand drawn illustrations of a timeworn storybook. In other moment the game resembles a sepia-tinged ukiyo-e painting, with large foreground elements to make the player feel like an interloper. With the wolf rendered in a perpetual stoop, intense eyes gleaming from the middle of her head, the titles restrained incorporation of expressionism coveys just as much exposition as the text-based narration. As such, it’s easy to empathize with the wolf’s journey to atone for her transgressions. Regrettably, play isn’t as engrossing as the plotline.
Rather Pedestrian Platforming
While Liar Princess longs to reproduce the expedition of Ico, the collection of mechanics don’t always produce gratification. Sporadically, the game urges you to adopt your natural form, using claws to strike at the enemies that threaten the vulnerable prince. Yet, while the title’s visuals are richly rendered, the control lacks a bit of responsiveness. Intermittently, the wolf can get caught in attack animations which you’ll desperately want to break out of.
Another issue is that the game doesn’t always telegraph danger. The difference between an innocuous and lethal fall can be a matter of mere pixels. While most platformers will warn of hazard, death by falling often arrives through trial and error navigation. Likely, it seems the developers were aware of the issue. But instead of fixing the minor frustration, they inserted frequent checkpointing to restrain frustration.
Leading Players by the Hand
Other moments you’ll adopt the form of a princess, either guiding the prince or interacting the environment to clear a path across the five-chapter trek. Here, the title errs on the side on compassion, with puzzles that flirt with creativity, but never require the type of higher-level sleuthing that can be so satisfying. If you’ve played similar puzzle/platformers, you might find that Liar Princess’ five-hour journey can be a little mundane. Motivation is rooted in seeing the story’s conclusion and admiring the different milieus for each chapter rather then the enjoyment of moment-to-moment play. On the upside, if you do get stuck on a one of the title’s atypical head-scratchers, there’s an option to move ahead.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince starts with an intriguing setup, flaunting a fairy tale-like plot and evocative visuals. But when it comes to the game’s interactive component, things fall short. It’s not a completely unpleasant ramble by any means, but one that lacks the type of delight found in more exemplary experiences. While it’s gratifying to witness developers explore new types of play, the game’s intriguing plot might have worked better with a turn-based system rather than conventional real-time combat and puzzle solving.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince was played on
Switch with review code provided by the publisher.