Thursday, November 07, 2019

You press a button to hold hands, plus four more reasons I can't stop thinking about and playing The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince

I've got to admit: I hemmed and hawed quite a bit when it came to buying a physical copy of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince early this year.

Why? Although I've thoroughly enjoyed a number of Nippon Ichi Software's smaller offerings, like Cladun and Yomawari, in recent years, this PS4 and Switch game appeared to be inspired by, if not directly related to, the much-maligned htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary and A Rose in the Twilight.

I've yet to play either of those pretty puzzler-platformers, sadly, but I've read and heard enough about both of them to get the feeling they may not be my cup of tea.

Still, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince's announcement trailer made it seem so damn charming that in the end I couldn't keep myself from pre-ordering a copy.

Fast forward to today, and I just finished playing through the game for a second time.

I've been thinking of doing so since I wrapped up my first playthrough shortly after it released in my neck of the woods. Why? Here are the main reasons I've had The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince on the brain for most of 2019.

I think its story is the sweetest I've ever encountered in a game--Honestly, this is the reason I haven't been able to get The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince off my mind this year. It feels kind of silly to say so given the story here is little more than a fairy tale. Still, the folks who wrote and localized that tale imbued it with such sincerity and tenderness that it hit my ill-prepared heart like a Mack truck. Their efforts made me truly care about the eponymous characters and their unfortunate situation, and that's not something I can say about the text in many games.

Its gameplay is simple, but not boring--While playing The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, you spend 90-plus percent of your time performing one or more of these four actions: moving left and right, jumping, holding the prince's hand (but only while you're a princess), and clawing enemies to death (while in wolf-monster form). I'm sure that makes it sound like a snore-fest, but I'm here to tell you it's anything but. Hell, just grabbing the prince's paw and pulling him through each stage is such a thrill for me that I'd be perfectly happy if that were all the game had to offer. That it also provides players with some light platforming, baddie-slashing, and puzzle-solving is the icing on the proverbial cake.

It doesn't overstay its welcome--My two playthroughs of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince lasted nine-and-a-half hours total. Although I've long championed shorter games, I'd usually balk at one that takes only four or five hours to beat. Especially when its asking price is $40. (Don't worry, that's for the now-out-of-print physical version. Digital copies cost just $20.) Not in this case. In my humble opinion, five hours is the perfect length for this particular title. It allows the endearing story to unfold without completely unraveling. And it keeps the straightforward gameplay from grating or boring. Plus, it entices players to do as I've done and stroll through its otherworldly set pieces multiple times.

It looks marvelous--Not so long ago, I wasn't a fan of the kind of "Flash game" aesthetic showcased in The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince and its ilk, like the aforementioned htoL#NiQ and Yomawari. These titles would look so much better if they were sprite-based, I stupidly thought. At some point, though, I did a 180. I can't tell you when or why, just that it happened. And now? I find this title's hand-drawn, watercolor-esque graphics stunning. The only thing I'd change about them at this point would be to allow players to disable--or, better yet, adjust via a slider--the effect that darkens the edges of the screen. It's fine now and then, but sometimes I'd like to fully see my surroundings, you know?

Its soundtrack is pretty wonderful, too--If your experience with The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is anything like mine, its background music may seem a bit samey as you work your way through its side-scrolling world. Listen to the soundtrack when you're not worrying about the well-being of the game's, erm, "royal" protagonists, though, and it'll immediately become clear just how varied it is. Some tunes soothe with lilting harp-, guitar-, or flute-focused melodies. Others rouse with triumphant xylophone- or piano-heavy hooks. True, most have a decidedly chill vibe, but they're appealingly distinct when you give them the attention they deserve.

See also: 'Five things that made it really easy for me to put more than 60 hours into The Alliance Alive'

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