When Lies of P was announced, people were intrigued by the idea of taking the children’s fairy tale, Pinocchio, and turning it into a dark and more mature reimagining. The true story of Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet whose creator, Geppetto, wishes he was a real boy. It’s a heartfelt story of the bond between father and son and the act of doing morally right and never lying, no matter how small you may think the lie may be. Lies of P plays on this idea and embarks the player on an ever-engrossing tale that forces those brave enough to venture not to look at their childhood bedtime story in the same light.
Developers Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio deciding to create a video game based on a children’s story is one thing, but to turn it into a Souls-like is a brave act. There have been tons of Souls likes lately, but no game has matched the feel and greatness of those who created the genre — FromSoftware. Enter the newest competitor, who has changed that fact, as Lies of P is one of the only Souls-like clones to completely nail what this subgenre is all about.
Story – An Intriguing Tale About the Downfall of a Once Thriving City
Lies of P is a story about a puppet boy named P, who searches for Geppetto, his creator, in the city of Krat. Through this adventure, P learns about what went wrong with the puppets, who are now evil, and the horrifying disease ridding the world of life. Ultimately, P’s goal is to become human, something he clearly has the potential to do and buried deep within him, considering he’s the only puppet who can tell a lie, while all other puppets must obey. What initially seems like a simple story of good vs. evil soon turns into a compelling, yet disturbing, narrative that will keep the player’s attention as they yearn to discover more about this torn-down world and why this once beautiful city is upon the brink of its end.
The game’s “lying” mechanic pushes the great story even further. Along the journey, the player will be confronted with dialogue choices where they can either decide to lie and comfort those in turmoil or tell the truth, where the answers could be discerning to those who need your help the most. For example, in the game’s demo version, players could tell this woman in sorrow that the child they gave her was a puppet (truth) or say the child is real (lie). These dialogue choices are scattered throughout the game, allowing the players to drive their own narrative path.
This lying system is a twist on Pinocchio and how his nose grows whenever he tells a lie, while when P lies, he becomes closer to becoming human. You may think it’s wise to consistently lie then and reach P’s goal to become human, but you may want to think twice before choosing, as each answer can change rewards from characters, as well as the ending of the game. Considering the conclusion of Lies of P can change from the answers you give to characters, it adds more of a reason to replay the game for a second playthrough.
Lore – A Dark World That Will Leave You Fascinated
Lies of P does exceptionally well with its lore throughout, adding more context to the story. In a Souls game, one of the most important features is to have hidden secrets and quests through mysterious NPCs, and out of Lies of P’s eleven chapters, you’re almost always running into one. Whether they be a black market merchant or a sad robot just looking for a friend, there’s always someone new to talk to and learn more about their backstory. The game isn’t clear about the NPC’s intentions or their entire purpose. No, that’s up to you to find out, and there’s not one dull moment on the road to discovery.
Adding to the lore are the classic notes you find scattered across your journey, each written by someone who may have passed away or went to seek refuge from the apocalypse. Through these notes, the player learns more about the dark world and the plague that has taken over the humans, as well as where the puppets turned evil. I didn’t find myself skipping out on reading one note I picked up as they were all interesting, well thought out, and added more purpose to the game overall.
Combat and Gameplay – A Demanding, Yet Thrilling Experience
Lies of P combat is where the game shines the most, demanding fast reflexes and consistently reading your opponent. In classic Souls-like fashion, one mistake can be your downfall and, ultimately, your demise. I can’t emphasize enough how well Lies of P integrates the idea of learning from your mistakes. The feeling you get when you fight through frustration and overcome a challenge that didn’t seem possible from the start is the reason why this subgenre is loved by so many, and Lies of P superbly excels in this department that, at times, it gives FromSoftware a run for its money.
That last sentence probably makes you think the game is challenging, and you would be right. Lies of P is very, very hard. There will be times you hit roadblocks due to bosses, and even regular enemies, kicking your butt and preventing progression. Sometimes, you’ll have the enemy down to a centimeter of health to get a fatal blow from a move you should have blocked.
The difficulty is punishing, but the experience is all about using the tools handed to you to overcome what prevents you from moving forward. The good news is that the game has tons of tools and upgrade systems to help make the game more accessible. There are Legion Arms, upgrading weapons, mixing and matching weapons, throwables, consumables, P-Organ (essentially a skill tree), summoning an NPC to help in battle, and more. This game wants you to succeed only if you use everything available.
The bread and butter of Lies of P’s combat is mastering the blocking and perfect blocking system. When you block normally, you lose health and can regain it by striking the enemy right afterward, similar to Bloodborne. When you “perfect” block, which requires perfect timing, you don’t lose any health and can leave the enemy vulnerable to an attack and a chance for you to strike, which can lead to a stagger. This is a system you will constantly be learning to master, as each enemy has its speed, delayed attack animations, and successive move sets, leaving you constantly on your toes. When you successfully utilize the blocking system and genuinely feel yourself improving, it is thrilling and a fantastic experience.
The player’s arsenal consists of mostly one-handed weapons and a Legion Arm that acts as a secondary weapon. There are tons of weapons to choose from, as well as Legion Arms, each with a unique ability that allows players to cater to a playstyle of their choice. For example, a Legion Arm could act as a flamethrower or a grappling hook that pulls the enemy toward the player, giving them an opportunity to stun and strike for serious damage.
Meanwhile, each sword has two types of Fable Arts (abilities), one attached to the handle and the other to the weapon itself. If you don’t like the Fable Art of the handle but do for the weapon, you can remove the handle, find a different one that suits your playstyle, and attach it. This assembly system, mixed with Legion Arms, allows for high experimentation for builds and adds replayability.
Performance – P Stands for “Perfection”
I will just say it: Lies of P’s performance is flawless. Out of my 40-hour playthrough, there was not one time the game crashed on me or a framerate drop that hindered the experience. Out of the mind-boggling number of games to come out in 2023, Lies of P probably runs the best, and I can confidently say that. Also, the game’s artwork is stunning. At times, it reminded me of the PS5 launch title “Demons Souls,” where levels look like they are straight out of a painting. I mean, just look at the scenery in the image below.
Lies of P is way better than I ever thought it would be, especially being based on a children’s fairy tale. Any Soulslike fan will love this game due to a combat system that feels incredibly satisfying to master, a high quality of lore, a gripping story that keeps you intrigued, and a surprisingly large amount of upgrade systems.
How the game is designed, where it forces you to learn from your mistakes through trial and error, is done so well here that you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when you overcome the challenge. Out of all the games that have attempted to master a Soulslike, Lies of P stands in a league of its own and should be experienced by anyone who is a fan of the subgenre.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on September 13th, 2023