Review: The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince

There are precious few video games that allow you to play as a princess who does something other than dress up or recover the royal jewels. Until recently, Child of Light was the only game I knew of for modern consoles that fit those criteria. That's why I was eager to play The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince when it went on sale in the PlayStation Store. Its storybook illustration aesthetic and sidescrolling gameplay look so similar to Child of Light that I mistakenly thought it was made by the same people at first. Once I actually started playing, it became clear that The Liar Princess has a much smaller budget and a more linear world. Instead of the colorful cast and robust battle command menus from Child of Light, The Liar Princess's story is told entirely by a single Japanese narrator accompanied by cutscenes of an illustrated storybook that depicting the story. I completed the entire game in a single evening, which made me question its $20 price tag.


Story-wise, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is an excellent fable. It draws elements from many classic fairy tales such as "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Rapunzel," while telling a unique new tale. You play as a wolf who traded her beautiful singing voice for the ability to transform into a princess and help her beloved prince restore his sight after she accidentally clawed his eyes. It's a little dark but no darker than the original fairy tales that it clearly drew inspiration from. I thought it was interesting that the wolf wished specifically to be a princess and not just a human girl. It demonstrates that princess culture has reached a point where every girl is a princess in her own story, and the words have become interchangeable. Women are no longer "maidens," a word that focuses more on their unmarried status. Now, they are all "princesses," which has come to mean a woman with the ability to restore hope to those around her as opposed to just the daughter of a queen and king. The Liar Princess also deconstructs the common belief that princesses are always good with a strong overarching theme of forgiveness and redemption.

If this had simply been a picture book, it would have instantly become one of my favorites. As a video game, I found it a bit lacking. You must essentially drag the blind prince through the game's dangerous environments in order to reach the witch who can restore his sight. The princess can transform into a wolf to defeat any monsters in her path, but she can only guide the prince as a princess because touching him as the wolf would reveal her true identity that she is ashamed of. I especially found it difficult to hold the prince's hand and jump at the same time because it required me to press the jump button with the same thumb that I was using to hold down the button to hold his hand. If I let go by accident, I would jump without him. For the first portion of the game, he can be a bit of a deadweight, but once it unlocks the ability to tell him to walk short distances and carry objects, he becomes more useful. There are no hit points in the game and no way to become stronger. Any time the prince or princess gets attacked by a monster once, it instantly triggers the "Game Over" screen. This can get tedious, but the game compensates for it by making the wolf invincible to attacks.

Even though The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince could be completed within a few hours, it felt like many of the puzzles and story chapters were unnecessary for such a simple fable. It seemed like they forced in extra narrations just as an excuse for more gameplay. A new chapter of the story unlocks after every two puzzle levels, but only the first and last couple of chapters are actually important. I wish this story had been published as a fable and not a game. It has excellent lessons about self-acceptance and forgiveness that hearken back to the recent "Snow White" adaptation Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs. I loved how it incorporated classic fairy tale elements such as transformation and sacrifice with more modern princess themes of betrayal and female empowerment. I didn't like the ending until I realized that the true ending of the game takes place after the credits sequence and was exactly as bittersweet as I was hoping it would be. I would love to see this story done as a movie or cartoon short instead of a video game.

Overall, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a charming modern fairy tale that includes classic and contemporary elements. As a video game, it is simple, straightforward, and somewhat tedious. The storybook illustrations are lovely at first, but everything starts to look the same after a while even though it takes you through various physical environments. I don't feel that the price tag accurately reflects the amount of gameplay that get for it. If you are looking for a short fable with an interactive element, this game is for you. However, if you want to truly enter the world of a fairy tale princess, meet colorful characters, and fight off dragons, I would recommend playing Child of Light instead. I hope that someone decides to adapt The Liar Princess into a more easily consumable format so the imaginative story can be fully appreciated for what it is.

Comments

HB said…
If you're interested in more princess games I got 2(3) games for you.

-Cinderella Phenomenon: A beatiful dating/otome game (for free!!) where you play as a princess who gets cursed (she went from riches to rags) and must 3 good deeds to reverse the curse. In thhis world people are cursed with fairytale curses and you get to chose between 5 cursed guys to romance.

-Cinders: A favorite of mine in this game you play as Cinders (aka Cindrella) and you basically play through the Cindrella story but with different choices, lovers, godmothers and endings. You actions matters they not only changes Cinders personality but also changes how your ending plays out.

Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem: Techinally this isn't a game yet but there's a demo that's pretty long. This games a visual novel/otome game where you must fill up different stats, make friends with mysteries, murder and political scandal.
Lisa Dawn said…
I love otome apps, but I don't consider them the same as fully playable games, if that makes sense. I find that the ones that are directly translated from Japan tend to have confusing user interfaces. My favorite is Lovestruck Choose Your Romance from Voltage because the stories were made specifically for American or English-speaking audiences, so the interface is very easy to follow. They recently concluded all the love interests in their "Love and Legends" story, which is about a modern girl from Chicago who gets sucked into a fairy tale world and learns that she looks exactly like the witch who tried to destroy the kingdom. She spends the rest of the game living in the castle with the heroes proving to them that she's a completely different person and eventually falling in love with one of your choosing. They just started a new one called Reigning Passions, where you play a medieval peasant who learns that she's the lost princess, but I didn't enjoy that story as much as Love and Legends.
legogirl8 said…
What a coincidence! :D
I discovered this game just a couple of weeks ago! <3
I wanted to buy it but the game does not work on the game platforms I have, so I ended up watching a play-through instead.
I’m glad I did since the actually gameplay looked boring to me. Sure, there’s a difference between watching a game and playing it yourself, but I know myself well and I would have gotten bored pretty quickly.

The story though is wonderful and the illustrations are adorable! I did some searching and there is a storybook version of it but it can only be bought in the “Storybook edition” where you also get a copy of the game/soundtrack and other products. A wolf plushie can be bought separately though <3

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