Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a fairy-tale puzzle platformer that is like playing through the pages of an old, yellowing storybook. Developed by Nippon Ichi Software in Japan, it was localized by NIS America and released in February 2019. After playing the first two (of six) chapters, I’m here to give you my impression of playing this charming game on Nintendo Switch.
Liar Princess and the Blind Prince looks like a fairy-tale storybook, and reads like one, too. The basic premise is that a monstrous wolf sings in the forest every night, and a young prince of a nearby castle hears her, and listens, because he loves her voice. He applauds enthusiastically for her song every time, and the wolf is very grateful, though she knows she cannot go down and meet him, because she is a monster.
One night the little prince decides he must see the owner of this mysterious voice, and he braves the dangerous, monster-ridden forest to meet her. But when he finally crests the rise the wolf always settles on for her singing, the wolf reaches out to cover his eyes, because if he sees her, he’ll know! He’ll see that she’s a monster, and her happy little audience will disappear, and she doesn’t want him to go. She loves that he listens to her every night. But she IS a wolf, and her claws are long and sharp, and in trying to cover his eyes, she blinds him.
With the little prince now blind and alone, rejected by his family as useless, our story truly begins. The wolf is so remorseful that she seeks out the witch of the forest to gain a human form for herself. With that, she will be able to take the prince by the hand and lead him through a forest fraught with danger, to bring him to the witch so that she can restore his vision.
The style of Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a beautiful variety of adorable. With dark sepia-tones over everything, it gives the feel of the deeply yellowed pages of an old book. The dramatic black outlines, thick and inky, add atmosphere, giving a feeling of darkness and danger to an otherwise pretty world. There’s a simplicity to the style, like a children’s book, even though the scenes, when brought together, are intricate. The animation is smooth but also simple. There’s no high-speed action to try to keep track of in Liar Princess, and that feels in keeping with the story and setting.
The Puzzling Platforms
The gameplay relies on you having two forms…both wolf and princess. If you jump too high, you’ll both plop to the ground when you land, being only small children without the athletic ability to handle such a thing smoothly. A short fall won’t hurt you, but you’ll take a moment to gather yourselves and get back up, so don’t fall when there is an enemy nearby!
In wolf form, you’re actually very tough and strong and can jump much higher, as well as fight the enemies that stand in your way. The prince himself is another crucial game-play element, because you can’t hold the prince’s hand to guide him with a paw full of claws, so you will need to constantly be swapping between princess and wolf forms to best tackle what lay before you.
The prince won’t move without you. He can’t see. He doesn’t know what’s around him, except danger. It’s no wonder that every time you take his hand, his look of worry disappears to be replaced with a sweet, reassured smile. If you let go of his hand, he’ll stay exactly where you left him (so please don’t leave him anywhere with monsters…they’ll gobble him right up!) He can’t see you, so you can transform back to a wolf at any time and do what you need to, to clear his path, and then the two of you can proceed onward again.
The game really makes you regret your mistakes. If you don’t jump far enough to catch the next platform solidly, the prince you’re pulling along behind you will fall helplessly to his death. The princess will drop to her knees in shocked realization at what she’s done, and she covers her eyes and weeps as the End Game screen pops up and starts the reloading process, to force you to start the level over again. You have to protect that precious little dumpling at all costs. Everything you’re doing is for him, after all!
In some games you might press Y once to take his hand, then press it again to release it, but in Liar Princess you must hold Y continually to keep hold of the prince’s hand. It’s a good choice of mechanic, in my opinion, as it really lets you feel how much attention you need to pay to your teeny buddy, to guide and keep him safe. It also means you sometimes have to act fast, such as if you’re walking toward a bouncy mushroom in an area with respawning monsters. You’ll have to release the prince’s hand, transform into the wolf to quickly dispatch the monsters, transform back to a princess so you can grab the prince’s hand again, and jump onto that mushroom to propel you to the ledge before the next monster can get to you.
So, is it worth playing?
Here’s a confession. I am terrible at platformers. I have no sense of timing, and, like my entire family (so there’s no hope I can escape it!) my reflexes are slow. So even though I’ve heard from others that the game’s platforming is simple or easy, for me, Liar Princess and the Blind Prince has actually been quite difficult. In fact, I’m stuck right now with my wee prince up on a ledge, and I can’t figure out how to get him back down, or how to go forward, and I’m only at the end of Chapter 2!
Normally this would frustrate me until I gave up, since if a game is more frustrating than fun, I want no part of it. Instead, after dying twenty times in a row, I’m going to look it up online, to figure out what I’m doing wrong, so I can go back and continue the story. I need to see these two brave little munchkins to the end! Even if one of the munchkins is actually an enormous wolf with claws like swords.
The game makes these two impossible to resist. It isn’t just the basic story. As you go along, you’ll get little interludes between the two. As an early example: the wolf can’t deal with fire, and the prince doesn’t like the wolf’s beloved raw meat, but does love flowers. So the prince will carry lanterns for the wolf, and the wolf will go out of her way to get flowers to give to the prince.
They are, quite simply, the cutest and most endearing pair of adventurers I’ve ever seen in a puzzle-platformer game. I cannot leave them alone. I will struggle mightily against my many defects as a gamer, and complete this game no matter what it takes!
Where to buy
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is available digitally on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4, as well as in physical form at most game retailers. If you’re interested in this game, why not also check out The Way Remastered, another emotionally-charged platformer? Or try Another Sight, a story about a girl losing her sight when the tunnel she was exploring with her kitty companion collapses.