Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
When Geeks Under Grace visited PAX South earlier this year, I had the privilege of getting some hands-on time with a few upcoming games at the NIS America booth. One of those, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, caught my attention with its thought-provoking name. I only played through the intro, but that was enough to draw me in. It made such a strong first impression, I didn’t want anything ruined for me when the game hit retail. Now, it’s here and I’m glad to report I had a fantastic time playing this cute-yet-sincere escort game.
Spiritual Content: There is a bit of magic involved in the game. The witch of the forest will grant wishes in exchange for someone’s most valuable possession. The witch takes that precious thing, turns it into a gem, and collects them. There are also creatures in the game that are considered monsters. While they have the names of common animals (goat, wolf, etc) they’re considered monsters that dine on raw meat in the game.
Violence: There is some light animated violence as you’ll slash at monsters as the wolf. There is no gore and the enemies just vanish when they’re defeated. If the prince or you (as a human) take a fall from too great a height, you’ll hit the ground and die. If it’s the prince who dies, the princess will visibly mourn his loss. While not violent, there are what appear to be small creatures hung on trees (by their waists, not necks). It feels a bit disturbing, nevertheless.
Language/Crude Humor: None
Sexual Themes: None.
Positive Themes: Companionship, camaraderie, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, and overcoming fears to do the right thing are all thematic elements of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince.
When I first saw the art for The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince in NIS America’s PAX South booth, I was a little put-off. The muted tones and somber feel didn’t initially arouse much interest in my mind. After all, I’ve come to expect bright, vibrant, boisterous JRPGs from the publisher. When I took the time to get my hands on the game, though, the pieces fell into place.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince features a fantastic narrative. Both somber and endearing, it tells a tale we can identify with on a human level: a tale of mistakes, companionship, trust, and forgiveness. After wounding the prince who came to hear her sing to the moon, a lone wolf sets out on a quest to right her wrongs, giving up her voice to find much more along the way. Despite being a tale of fantasy, the characters are wonderfully relative. The prince beautifully portrays the innocence and trust of a child. The wolf, on the other hand, is an amazing depiction of our inner-selves: timid and presentable on the outside, but a selfish, self-doubting monster with hopes and dreams on the inside. It is well-told, with peaceful moments of relationship and world-building as well as periods of tension and fear. The game does a great job conveying the wolf’s companionship with the prince, too, as evidenced by her display of grief when he falls too far or is attacked by a monster and killed.
The gameplay is simple yet surprisingly deep. You’ll control the princess, using a button to grab the prince’s hand and guide him through a world full of puzzles and peril. When monsters get too close, you can change form to the wolf, slashing the beasts to clear a safe path. As the wolf, though, you can’t grab the prince to guide him. You can, however, issue voice commands to let the prince know he should walk forward a few steps. In terms of the narrative, the wolf’s voice is the same in either form and the prince trusts it, so he’ll obey commands. You can even have him pick up, carry, and drop objects to help solve puzzles.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince isn’t particularly difficult. Many of the game’s levels and puzzles are fairly straightforward. A few have added mechanics or restrictive timing that make things substantially harder. Even with a few complex roadblocks, the game is still a fairly quick play, requiring no more than 3-4 hours to complete.
Unfortunately, the game is not without a few mild frustrations. There were a few times I would make a jump, hand-in-hand with the prince, and he would miss our landing by a fraction of an inch, triggering his death and resetting some of my progress.
Though I was initially turned off by the art I’d seen for The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, I believe it perfectly complements the narrative and tone of the story. It’s full of muted colors with occasional use of something lighter to diffuse the somber world. It works together to compose a striking visual balance.
Even more impressive than the color scheme is the art style. If you really look closely, you’ll see that the characters invoke a look reminiscent of children’s books like Where the Wild Things Are or the Little Golden Books’ The Tawny Scrawny Lion. It wasn’t until I’d completely finished the game that I realized the game’s cover art even leans into the idea of this being a storybook, and it fits beautifully.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is one of those games I’ve loved stumbling my way into. The game is easy to pick up and learn and it’s a relatively quick campaign. The art and music complement one another to pull you into this storybook world. Most importantly, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince tells a powerful, familiar story that hit me to my core. Don’t let this game pass you by. It’s one of the best-told escort quests I’ve ever played.
Review copy provided by NIS America.
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The Bottom Line
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is easy to pick up with a relatively quick campaign. The art and music are complement one another to pull you into this storybook world. Most importantly, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince tells a powerful, relatable story that hit me to my core. Don't let this game pass you by.