Review – Lies of P
Since the release of the instant classic Bloodborne, all the way back in 2014, fans of the game, as well as From Software’s Souls games in general, have constantly been clamoring for more, be it in the shape of a sequel or even a remaster bumping its framerate to 60. That made other studios try to come up with clones, spiritual sequels or love letters to that seminal title. Games like Steelrising, for instance, sure came close, but didn’t particularly stick the landing. One of these titles, which had managed to garner a sizeable amount of attention prior to release, however, was Lies of P.
As expected, Lies of P is a game based on the story of Pinocchio, albeit very loosely. If anything, it is a twisted take on the children’s novel, being set in an alternate historical timeline, where machines (as in, robots and stuff) are known as “puppets”. What sets humanity apart from pupets is the ability to lie. Everything is fine and dandy until Pinocchio, our protagonist, awakens to a world thrown into chaos, as the puppets have entered a state of frenzy, attacking anyone in sight. Our Timothy Chalamet-looking protagonist sets out on a journey to find his creator, Geppetto, and put an end to this frenzy.
It’s a boldly unique take on what is considered a children’s classic, with an incredibly dark and grim world that is falling apart in the chaos. It’s a familiar setting for any fans of the genre, with a tense atmosphere that makes you question what is around every corner. The characters you meet as well are all great, with that familiar sense of mysteriousness, like they are hiding just enough from you.
When I said earlier that it would be impossible to not compare Lies of P to Bloodborne, I do mean it. Every single aspect of what makes Bloodborne so special in the first place is here. It’d be impossible to not compare the two games, even if it’s a cliché at this point. The formula has been copied down to every last letter. Ergo replaces blood echoes, Stargazers replace the lanterns, and there are interconnected maps with shortcuts that loop back on themselves that are unmistakably From Software-esque. That’s not to mention difficult encounters with overwhelming forces that test your skills in combat.
Lies of P sure does its main (obvious) source of inspiration on its sleeve, but that is not exactly a bad thing. It is a pretty competent Soulslike with snappy combat mechanics for you to use against some formidable enemies. By blocking attacks, you will receive some damage depending on the weapon you are using. On the other hand, you can regain your health by swiftly attacking back an enemy, encouraging you to go full aggro in order to keep your health up.
Dodging is much more of a side step, allowing you to quickly get out of the way of attacks. However, by blocking at just the right time, you will perform a perfect guard that negates all damage. Lies of P encourages a faster, more aggressive playstyle, in order to nail down those perfect parries. It feels like a slower version of what was presented in Sekiro.
The big problem here is that any difficulty in Lies of P feels more artificial, rather than solid design choices that keep it tough but fair. It’s way too easy to get stun-locked from a mistimed block, and with some enemies having absurdly long combo strings, you can say goodbye to a good chunk of your HP in mere moments. Let’s not forget that a lot of enemies have incredible tracking skills, being able to quickly spin around to make sure your attempt to dodge around is wasted. With that said, Lies of P is, for the most part, very much a manageable game, even for Soulslike newcomers. Just be aware you may need to brute force your way through some encounters. When it walks the line of tough but fair, it excels at it.
As for the level design, it does occasionally showcase some potential, with winding pathways and intricate shortcuts that make it feel like one connected world. It often felt a bit too linear, taking me down hallway after hallway, with only a few side paths. Going into a factory or the underbelly of a cathedral provides some of the dullest levels I’ve seen in a while, as opposed to the city streets and rooftops which feels so much better to explore. Boss fights are also a bit of a mixed bag, the first half being honestly terrible, the second half pulls it together for some genuinely fun fights, even if they do have the occasional cheap trick.
However, that’s not to say Lies of P doesn’t do anything unique or different. It tries to carve out its own little identity in this subgenre of Soulslikes. On top of the standard stat-based levelling system that defines the genre, there is also a skill tree that unlocks some pretty critical abilities, making Pinocchio feel distinctly more powerful as you progress. His left arm can also be swapped out for a wide variety of different abilities that feel very much like Sekiro, but with more in-depth customisation on top of this. There is also an interesting weapon crafting system that allows you to combine a wide variety of blades and handles to create something a bit more unique. It layers just enough to the RPG elements to make it stand out even if it’s not the deepest
For such a small team in their first game, it’s impressive how detailed the world can be. The city of Krat is inspired by the Industrial Revolution in a dark and gritty cityscape. I was immediately immersed into the world of Lies of P. With some fantastic enemy design that gets much more twisted and brutal as the game goes on almost feeling like a different game at times. There can be a few rough spots throughout that takes me out of the experience and performance mode unfortunately can’t hold that solid 60fps target that I was hoping for.
Lies of P is a very interesting game in the sense that it succeeds at emulating the look, feel and gameplay of From Software’s Souls games, most notably (and obviously) Bloodborne, but a handful of issues hamper it from reaching its full potential. It has some neat combat and RPG elements, as well as a fascinating world to explore, but it is also a bit too formulaic. It was still a pretty good time, a nice first attempt from its development team, and a good foundation for future sequels and other games in the same vein. An easy recommendation for Soulslike fans.
There’s a rough edge to a lot of Lies of P but the fantastic character and environmental design shines through.
Weak level and encounter design ocassionally brings down a solid combat experience.
With the exception of some occasionally rough voice acting, the rest of the sound department is superb.
Lies of P is a fairly solid Souls-inspired action RPG with some great ideas, but also enough issues to hamper it from reaching its potential.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Lies of P is available now on PS5, Xbox Series S/X and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Lies of P was provided by the publisher.