Title: The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Release Date: February 12th, 2019 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America
The first NISA Switch game of 2019 is here! This is another in NIS’s “indie” sort of projects where they hold a sort of internal pitch contest and the winning ones get made into smaller budget games. Prior examples include Penny-Punching Princess and the original Yomawari: Night Alone. You can read my reviews of both on Switch here and here.
So how does this one fare? Let’s find out!
The Princess giving the Prince a flower, I mean it says so right there!
This game stars the aforementioned characters addressed in the title. Only the Princess is actually a wolf, hence the “Liar” part. The game begins one night when the Wolf (who isn’t named) is singing a beautiful song to the moon alone. This singing attracts the attention of the Prince (also not named), who adores the Wolf’s singing. The Wolf is aware, but because monsters and humans don’t exactly get along, she doesn’t know how the Prince will respond to knowing her identity. Several nights pass and the Prince starts to climb up the hill to see who is the person singing. Startled, the Wolf attempted to cover his eyes to avoid seeing her, but tragically she accidentally slashed his eyes, blinding him, hence the “Blind Prince”.
The Prince is locked in his castle, outcast from his family because of his blindness (the hell?!). Feeling horrible, the Wolf goes to rescue him, but she doesn’t know how to without giving away her identity (the Prince is obviously terrified of the claws that blinded him). She has the idea of bringing him to a witch in the forest who can heal his sight, bit can also turn her into human to be able to take the Prince to the witch without him knowing she is the Wolf that blinded him. She successfully does this and the witch offers her a human form in exchange for her singing voice (wait a minute…). She accepts. She has the ability to become a wolf and human back and forth at will, except at night where she’s forced to be a wolf at all times. She rescues the Prince while pretending to be a human princess. He’s saved, and the journey begins. …Now why she didn’t just have the witch restore his sight right there instead I couldn’t tell you. Maybe he HAS to be there in person. Her magic must not work long distance, she didn’t pay for that tier in her magic account…
An example of a cutscene, showcasing the storybook format and narration.
That’s when the game begins. You are always together with the Prince, and your job is to make it to the goal at the end of the level together safely. The game is a 2D puzzle platformer, where you have to jump, solve puzzles, you know how it is. The Princess can freely change from human to wolf and back again by pressing X (you can’t in tight spaces where only her human form can fit however). In wolf form, she can slash enemy monsters with the Y button. Her wolf form is near invulnerable, but her human form and the Prince will die in one shot if they get hit, this includes fall damage as well. There are mushrooms that not only bounce you to high places, but cushion your fall from any height as long as you land on them.
The key thing here is that because the Prince is blind, you have to literally hold his hand by holding Y in human form right next to him at all times when you want him to come with you, and my GOD is it adorable seeing the two of them smile when they hold hands! During gameplay, it’s sometimes best to leave him alone while you go on ahead to get your bearings and take out any enemies in your path as well. One note is the inclusion of collectables in the game; flowers, and numerous petals. Each stage aside from the first and last, always have 5 petals, but only some have flowers. The Prince loves flowers so you have to pluck the flowers, and bring them to him by hand. You cannot turn into a wolf when carrying a flower.
Here’s the first piece you unlock in your collection menu; the Wolf Design.
Trophies are your achievements, accomplished by completing certain tasks. Some include killing a certain amount of enemies, letting the Prince die (this will happen lots), finding all of the petals and flowers each, etc. Collecting a certain amount of petals unlocks artwork of the various characters in the game. There’s also an Album where you can rewatch the cutscenes in the game, as well as unlock stories told by the witch. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the flowers unlock said stories as you collect them. I actually got them all before finding out for sure… I had to start a second file to verify the petals’ role in the collection menu. It wasn’t clear about the witch’s story requirements unfortunately, that part of the menu is empty when beginning a new file with no indication of how to unlock those.
The cutscenes are told in a storybook-style fashion. With narration that’s fully read by a narrator in Japanese-only. The illustrations are super cute and charming. Honestly the game’s storybook visual style is an utter delight. The designs for the Princess and the Prince are too adorable for words. Even the wolf has a very neat abstract design where the eyes are always on the side facing the audience, plus she has horse legs! Performance-wise it’s not perfect. It appears to run in 60fps but the framerate stutters here and there. Plus sometimes there’s a split-second pause when things load. This is an issue because the game did legit crash in the opening cutscene (I was able to hit the Home button and quit the game however), though this was the only time during the entire game. The backgrounds are also beautifully done. My only issue is that they change very little during each world/chapter, so you may get bored of each about half way. I was personally done with the greenish forest world after half way myself. 😛
This is the level with my fav music track. You can also see the fire mechanic used here.
Audio-wise, the music is absolutely wonderful. My fav track by far is the forth area where you have to use fire to help light your way through the dark caves. In the trailers you hear a beautiful vocal song (sung in Japanese) that’s also the credits song and it’s such a great piece. Outside of the narration and the grunts the monsters make when defeated, there’s no voice-acting at all. They clearly went with a simple approach, considering the indie-feel of the game, that’s perfectly fine.
Overall this game was a definite delight. Such a charming presentation and I wholly recommend it. It’s also VERY cheap at only $25 Canadian (at least on the eShop), despite being a retail release which really surprised me. Make sure you enable auto-save just in case it crashes on you also. Also, you’re freely able to skip a stage after 10 minutes, but you have to leave behind any collectables. You also can freely go back to any stage via the stage select. This is handy for both when getting stuck, but also to collect any flowers and petals you missed. Even better, you don’t even have to beat a level when doing so; any newly collected petals and flowers are kept and you can just move to a new stage right there. Even dying doesn’t cost you them. I assume this only true for already completed stages because of the skip mechanic forcing you to leave those behind of course.
+ A beautiful storybook-style presentation.
+ Adorable characters with tons of charm.
+ Music is absolutely wonderful, especially the tunes I mentioned above.
+ Puzzles are challenging at times, but not too much aside from one puzzle…
+ Looks crisp and runs well for the most part.
+ The game’s fairly short, so short I beat it in just two sessions, which honestly is such a breath of fresh air.
+ Easy to use stage select and there’s even a stage skip option if you get stuck.
+ The game is super cheap in price despite being a retail release. But this might just be the eShop price.
+ Has screenshot and video capture support.
– The framerate can hiccup a bit, which is odd for a 2D game.
– The minimal voice-acting can be good or bad depending on your view point. There’s also only Japanese voice-acting for the narrator, but she sounds very nice!
– The one puzzle that gave me a really hard time involved stone tablets and solving four number-related riddles. I had to cheat this by watching a video, and the answers made no sense at all…
– The game crashed once in literally the opening cutscene. Never happened since but yeah, be careful and save often.
– As mentioned, the game is uber short. Good for me, maybe not so much for others.