Lies of P is an action roleplaying game developed by two independent South Korean studios, Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio. Inspired by Italian author Carlo Collodi, Lies of P re-tells the story of Pinocchio in the unforgiving spirit of FromSoftware games, such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
The game takes place in Krat, a Belle Époque inspired city plagued by autonomous puppets gone mad and a disease slowly turning citizens into stone and monsters. The player controls Pinocchio, a humanoid puppet, on a quest to find his creator, Geppetto, who has gone missing in the puppet frenzy. With a wide arsenal of weapons and a mechanical arm, Pinocchio explores Krat facing tough enemies, meeting mysterious strangers, and uncovering the city’s dark history. Along the way, Pinocchio must also make meaningful choices to explore his humanity, such as choosing to share one character’s miserable fate with their partner. Which is better: brutal honesty or a comforting lie?
Lies of P is challenging by design and death is around every corner. The combat loans a lot from its’ role models, namely Bloodborne and Sekiro: it’s fast-paced, aggressive, and packed with precise timings and high risks. Learning to act just in time feels very satisfying but usually means a ton of trial-and-error and repetition. Enemies also slowly recover health if not attacked, which can make bigger fights laborious if you like to play slow. The game allows you to summon an NPC helper, but I often found them even a bit trivializing to the on-brand difficulty. Some of the enemy and boss designs also get recycled and remixed towards the end, which was a bit disenchanting. All in all, Lies of P does not re-invent the wheel of its’ spiritual predecessors but still brings new ideas to the table, such as assembling your own weapon and breaking your opponent’s weapon by blocking well enough, both of which I found engaging.
In addition to great feeling gameplay, the game also nails its’ presentation. From murky streets and noxious swamps to glamorous opera houses, Lies of P makes great use of moody lighting and weather effects to bring environments to life. Although the game is generally very linear, the environments still feature plenty of clever level design and visual storytelling, both of which I adore to see. Even the main story is presented in a more approachable way than in many Souls(like) games I’ve played. With a length of around 40 hours, I really enjoyed the story and its’ memorable yet enigmatic characters thanks to some great voice acting.
Like clockwork, the music is typical for the genre: epic, bombastic, and orchestral. But what really stood out to me were its’ more delicate pieces with violin, classical guitar, piano, or even accordion. In the game, the player can find these songs as collectible vinyl records that can be played in the hub area. The songs fit the game’s hopelessly romantic style fantastically, which for me, made them a real treat after a heartfelt story moment or a hard-won battle. I won’t lie, I often spent unnecessarily long times at the hub just to hear them again and again, they are that good!
Lies of P owes a lot to its’ inspirations, but it also manages to reach incredible heights in terms of quality and feel, especially for an indie studio’s first attempt at a ‘soulslike’ game.As someone who has tried plenty of kindred games, it’s a very impressive all-rounder. It’s not the sequel for Bloodborne many are yearning for, but for me, it definitely scratches that itch without feeling like copied homework. For those who can’t get enough of these types of games, I highly recommend trying out Lies of P. If you’re new to this genre, Lies of P is not a bad place to start either with its’ high level of polish and a story that you don’t need an hour-long YouTube video explaining later.
Publisher: NeoWiz Games
Developer: Round8 Studio, NeoWiz Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, macOS, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: September 19th, 2023
Genres: action, role-playing, soulslike
Photos: Screenshots from Lies of P (Round8 Studios, NeoWiz Games, 2023), taken by the author.
Mikko likes long walks on beaches of Shadow Moses Island, bonfire-lit dinners in Lordran, and travelling around Johto region, hoping one day to catch ‘em all. Besides game design, he also nerds out about music, cooking, and random historical anecdotes.
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