Story gamers, unite! If you prefer a good story over gameplay, come on over. Go on ahead and take a seat if you consider it an added bonus when the gameplay excels and fits around the story wonderfully. I called The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince this week’s release of the week, but I had no idea it would surpass all of my expectations. At the very least, I hoped the story was as brilliant as it appeared to be. I didn’t expect the gameplay to be just as delightful.
The overall story is a simple fairy tale, one that we might have read growing up. It has a castle, a dark forest, a witch, royalty, and monsters. It pretty much ticks off all the checkboxes Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm created. It even has bloodshed, which the three of them would have greatly approved of. A witch rules a dark forest full of man-eating monsters that happens to surround a kingdom. A wolf in the forest begins every evening with a song to the moon. The young prince of the kingdom one day heard this beautiful song and he ventured into the forest to hear the song up close. He never could see the owner of the voice, but he applauded the concert every night, much to the happiness of the wolf. She never showed herself to the prince, because she feared he wouldn’t come back after seeing she was a monster.
One night, the prince wanted to see the songstress face-to-face. The wolf, afraid of him seeing she was a monster, hastily tried to cover up his eyes. When doing so, she accidentally blinded him. The prince’s family was ashamed that he was so horribly disfigured, so they locked him up. The wolf felt terrible for the prince and wanted to heal him. However, she knew he would be afraid of her as a wolf, so she asked the witch of the forest to turn her into a princess. This way, he’d never know who she really was. The witch agreed to if the wolf parted with her singing voice, which she did.
Why turn into a princess? Well, aside from the fact the wolf already told the blind prince that she was a princess, she wanted to lead him as a princess to the witch to heal his eyes. This means he has to go through the dark forest full of man-eating monsters. The two of them have to solve various puzzles to get through the forest and to the witch’s house alive.
The premise sounds really weak for a puzzle game, but it works in more ways than one. It is a magical forest full of man-eating monsters, so naturally, it’s not so easy for man to simply walk on through. When the wolf is in her wolf form, she can get through any obstacle on her own just fine. The puzzles do not faze her at all, because she doesn’t need to solve them. Makes sense, right?
However, she has a little human with her, and he’s blind. He can’t make the big jumps she normally can, and he can’t defend himself in a forest where everything wants to kill him. (If the forest was called “Australia,” I’d completely believe it.) This is where the puzzle solving comes in. The wolf, as the princess, has to lead him by the hand through the woods and walk him through puzzles. She also has to transform back to a wolf to protect him from the many monsters that want to eat him.
The game starts the player off nice and easy with extraordinarily simple puzzles. Some are even riddles, although the player won’t see any riddles after the first area. When you’re in a lull of complacency, things get harder. And harder. The wolf will have to direct the prince where to stand and sometimes ask him to pick up objects. As the puzzles get more complicated, the wolf will be able to give the prince more directions. At first, she can only do it while holding his hand. After some time, he grows to trust her fully and she can direct him without touching him.
The puzzles thenceforth call upon the player to truly understand the unique attributes of the wolf, the prince, and the princess to solve them. The wolf can fall from any height, whereas the prince and princess cannot. The wolf can also jump higher and farther. The prince is able to pick up and carry objects. The prince will only walk forward if the princess holds his hand. There is a lot of switching back and forth, especially when the puzzles ramp up in difficulty.
I have severe rage-quit syndrome and the patience of a toddler at times. While I found some of the puzzles near the end to be rather frustrating, none of them caused me to throw a controller once. There is an option to let you skip a stage and, while I came close to clicking it, I never once selected it. It’s easy to criticize The Liar Princess as being too easy simply for having this option, but it really hits home that the story is the most important aspect here. The puzzles help frame the setting as well as tighten the bond between the prince and the wolf.
It’s this bond that makes the ending all the more sad and sweet.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince can be played through in less than six hours, even if you don’t skip any stages. However, if you want to find all of the various collectibles throughout, it will take you quite a bit longer. Fortunately, the game lets you see which stages you’re missing collectibles, and you can jump to that stage at any time after you’ve completed it once. If you’re a completionist, you may spend a lot longer with this charming fairy tale.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince definitely lives in a story gamer’s wheelhouse, but there’s plenty here to satisfy those who may not care about a story in games. But I bet you will care about this one by the time you reach the end.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.