Developed by Round 8 Studios and published by Neowiz Games, Lies of P is yet another forage into the well-entrenched, perhaps oversaturated, Souls-like genre. Before release, the game had already built up a lot of buzz and excitement, mainly thanks to its peculiar and arresting premise: Souls-like Pinocchio. A proposition such as this had a lot of room to go wrong in any genre, never mind an action-heavy Souls-like with sky-high expectations: how would you capture the spirit of the original? How would lying work? Would Pinocchio’s nose still grow? Questions like these never ceased, especially when the first few glimpses of the game showed a dour world infested by rampaging puppets and a rather pretty Pinocchio to boot.
Fortunately, Lies of P is a very strong title. With one of the most compelling narratives attached to a Souls-like and a world which rivals the Gothic-grimness of Bloodborne in terms of spectacle and grandeur, Lies of P has a lot of things to enjoy and soak in during your time exploring the plagued, desolate city of Krat. On the combat side, Lies of P is fun and frantic and promotes aggressive, relentless play with a massive arsenal of potential weapons and tools which you’ll use to combat a host of terrifying, otherworldly abominations of metal and flesh. There are definitely problems here, though, particularly with pacing and points where the game trips over itself to make things more unnecessarily difficult or complex.
It had some strong competition and despite a few failings here or there, Lies of P is easily worth your time if you’re a Souls-like fan looking to escape into a dark, new fairy tale.
Lies of P releases on September 19th for PS4 and PS5, Xbox Series X and S and Steam. You can pick it up for $59.99 or through Xbox Game Pass, where it will launch as a Day 1 title.
Story | Fairy Tale Retelling
Lies of P takes place in the revolutionary city of Krat. Once a place of prosperity and industry, Krat has been overrun with chaos and disaster, largely stemming from an uprising of the city’s puppet population at the hands of a disease known as the Puppet Frenzy. Now, the dead litter the streets and the living cower in their homes as the maddened puppets stalk the city and untold horrors echo throughout the night.
Created by the genius Gepetto, you play a puppet called P who quickly becomes entangled in the crisis of Krat after you are awoken by a mysterious lady Sophia. Tasked with exorcising this tainted city of its bloodlust and carnage, you venture out into the Krat streets armed with a repertoire of deadly weapons. As the only puppet capable of lying, you must decide whether you will face the world by telling the truth or weave a web of lies while unravelling who you are and what you’ve done.
Compared to the usual approach of Souls-like storytelling – which is often an Eldritch, unknowable thing that sporadically sprinkles lore and vague mentions of creatures like Archibald the Undying throughout item descriptions – Lies of P’s narrative is pretty good. With the Pinocchio story serving as a base point, the Lies of P team has expanded it into an interesting and compelling world, one with distinct factions, characters and significant historical events that you’ll remember as you go throughout the game. While it doesn’t strive for the fantasy heights of Elden Ring or even Bloodborne, it manages to capture that same dread and majesty and weave it into a grim world populated by little moments of hope.
With that said, Lies of P does drastically stray from its initial premise. A lot of the marketing and hype has been built around the idea of Souls-like Pinocchio and, while it certainly remains intact for a lot of the game’s pivotal moments, the narrative drifts towards something quite different about halfway through. In fact, the puppets, the key central face of this game, become kind of a backdrop for a large portion of it, taking a backseat so other forces can perform on the centre stage. Your tolerance for this will vary from person to person, and I suspect that some players may enjoy the diversion more than simply sticking to the base story. I, however, was a bit disappointed.
Overall, Lies of P’s narrative is one of the best in the Souls-like genre, standing head and shoulders above most of its contemporaries due to its ability to tell a more concise, straightforward narrative without losing out on the fantastical world building and lore these types of games are known for. While I don’t know if I would recommend picking up the game based on the story alone (especially when the game is as difficult as it is) it is certainly a point in its favour for those seeking a challenge with a touch more substance.
A Puppet Cannot Lie
Rule 4 of the Grand Covenant dictates that Puppets cannot lie. P, however, isn’t like most other puppets: as a direct creation of Gepetto, you have a special quality which allows you to break this rule and lie. The choice of whether to lie or remain truthful pops up a few times throughout the game and is one of the main systems in Lies of P, with characters commenting on your choices and different options popping up as a result of your actions.
Most of the time, the difference between telling the truth or making up a lie comes down to whether you want to be nice or be realistic: do you lie to an ailing mother and tell her that the puppet child you’ve just given her is a real kid, or do you tell her the truth that it’s simply a mimicry? Going down the truthful path in Lies in P means adhering to the rules of puppetry and shirking the autonomy you’ve been given, whereas lying to spare someone’s sorrow is seen as a human quality and pushes P further towards becoming a real boy.
There are some interesting ideas here, especially that lying and deceit are a natural part of being human, as well as some thought-provoking scenarios but it just isn’t pushed far enough to be a staple of the game. The stylings and how the choices are positioned – telling the truth of making up a fib – are more integral than most choices you’ll actually end up making in this game. If you removed the whole truth and lies system entirely, the game wouldn’t suffer any tremendous loss.
The choices in Lies of P are nice at being a springboard for the wider topics it attempts to tackle but don’t really go much further beyond that. They’re a path to travel down to reach the game’s different endings and, while some moments and scenarios may hold residence in your memory for a time, it certainly won’t be the main thing you recall when thinking of Lies of P.
Gameplay | Puppetborne
In moment-to-moment combat, Lies of P aspires to be more Sekiro or Bloodborne than it wants to be Dark Souls. You want to be aggressive and relentless when fighting, willing to take hits and get right back into the action. If you’re able to play to this rhythm and keep up with the game, you’ll be rewarded for this active style of play: parrying destroys enemy weapons, weakening their damage output and making them way easier to manage, whereas attacking directly after blocking damage allows you to restore some health. In every part of Lies of P, being unrelenting is a feat and you’ll need to learn how to balance that with some of the game’s more cumbersome elements to succeed.
In terms of what you’ll be using during a fight, P has access to a massive arsenal of available weapons. While your starting roster is rather small, it’ll quickly snowball into a small battalion’s worth of different Greatswords, Blunt Weapons, Daggers, Rapiers, Swords and more. Each weapon has its own playstyle and striking pattern and playing with each one to find your perfect match is rewarded. What makes it even better is the other tools at your disposal, particularly your Legion Arm which effectively serves the exact same purpose as the Shinobi Prosthetic from Sekiro. By combining a grappling hook or a long-ranged explosive cannon with your already packed set of weapons, you can carve out a distinct playstyle that differs from weapon to weapon and player to player.
Lies of P has a really good amount of enemy variety with a really good sense of when certain types of foes should appear. This leads to every area having a distinct feel, one where the enemies become an extension of the environment and both work together to make it more memorable. In conjunction with this, the actual levels are pretty well designed, relying heavily on the Souls-like tradition of shortcuts to make each space feel lived in and real. I can still picture certain level loadouts and how to navigate them, where certain high-priority enemies spawn and how to efficiently travel to whichever boss inevitably killed me. The richness of the enemies paired with really well-done levels makes exploring and moving through Krat in Lies of P an enjoyable, memorable experience.
That being said, there are quite a few parts of Lies of P which just feel… clunky. For one, there’s a weapon durability bar which will slowly drain as you deal or block damage: once the bar fully drains, your damage massively tanks and you’ll need to use a Grindstone to restore it. This system works in games like Monster Hunter because there a brief bits of downtime and respite where you can prioritise that preparatory element, and these moments just don’t exist in Lies of P. You want to constantly get into scraps and if you don’t remember to arbitrarily refill your durability bar, it leads to some silly deaths. It’s clunky, goes against the aggressive nature of the combat system and simply isn’t a fun addition.
Other stumbles in the gameplay include a distinct lack of build variety. While the different weapon types certainly help cement a playstyle, there aren’t a lot of defensive parts (Lies of P’s equivalent to armour) to match them. The higher-weight pieces which should have more defence feel just as effective as the lower-weight ones and vice-versa, leading to you just slapping on the best available pieces at all times on the off chance that they work. The weight system is also really strange, with Slightly Heavy feeling no different to Normal weight. As such, there’s no real way to build a tanky Pinocchio, a nimble Pinocchio or a balanced Pinocchio, despite the game trying to create these categories at the start of the game. Every Pinocchio is going to fight differently, sure, but there’s no real way to back that difference up outside of the weapons.
Another intriguing part of Lies of P is the weapon crafting and dismantling system. Most of the weapons in Lies of P come in two halves – the blade and the handle. You’ll quickly learn how to dismantle these weapons and then recombine them to create new ones. The blade changes the damage type of the weapon whereas the handle changes the weapon’s behaviour and how you swing it. As a quick example, if I like the way that the Rapier plays but want to use a Striking weapon instead of a Piercing one, I can just swap the blade out and keep the handle: this will let me deal a different damage type than usual while retaining the fighting style and moveset of the Rapier.
In theory, this system can be used to create hundreds of combinations. Lies of P has a ton of weapons, almost too many, and they all function slightly differently. If you decide to invest in the dismantling system and truly experiment with what’s on offer, you have the chance to create your perfect weapon, something that works exclusively for your playstyle and is unlike anything else any other player is using.
However, whether or not you engage with this system at all depends on a few factors. For example, I toyed around with this feature a lot in the opening hours of Lies of P but quickly grew out of it as soon as I got my first Boss Ergo weapon: these weapons were completely unique and offered special Fable Arts and playstyles at the cost of being unable to dismantle them. They felt much better to play and didn’t require me to spend 10-20 minutes testing out whether they were strong enough. These weapons worked right out of the box and were more effective than any of the hand-crafted projects I attempted to scrape together.
Even when I wasn’t using the Boss Ergo weapons and went back to a basic weapon, dismantling and changing stuff around quickly became a hassle because of how weapon upgrading works. When you upgrade a weapon, you upgrade the handle and blade together. If you want to switch either around, you’ll be left with one part that’s weaker than the other. This, along with the constant need to refine and test the weapons I built, had me leaving this system behind in my first 10 hours.
If you’re willing to invest a lot of time into this system and experiment with each of your creations, I do not doubt that this will be one of your favourite parts of Lies of P. If you just want to play a more traditional Souls-like without messing around with this system, you can safely do so and just use the basic weapons to their full effectiveness without losing out on anything.
Dream Turned Nightmare
One issue players may find with Lies of P is the game’s pacing. Lies of P is split up into three loose acts which separates the game into three relatively even thirds. Out of these three sections, the first and third acts are both exceptional and a great showcase for Lies of P’s gameplay and story… meanwhile, the second act is a disappointing slog.
The first third of the game is dripping with this picturesque grim bleakness which, when mixed with the industrial and mechanical feel of Krat, creates a compelling and engaging world to explore, one backed up by enough well-balanced challenges to make it very entertaining. Similarly, the final third is superb with some of the best bosses in the entire game back-to-back-to-back, all of whom will test a different part of your knowledge and game skill and push you to your limit: the best bosses in this game feel like they belong in Sekiro or Bloodborne and deliver such a cacophonous amount of satisfaction upon beating them. These are the points where Lies of P shines and becomes one of the best Souls-likes I’ve ever played.
However, I’ve neglected the second act of the game for good reason. During this stretch of Lies of P, a lot of nonsense starts to occur which drags down the excellent framework the first third built up. Bosses begin to become overbearing and overwhelming, their sheer size and aggressiveness often boxing you into the corners of far too small arenas and leading to a lot of deaths because you physically couldn’t see them or couldn’t dodge out of the way. Regular enemies begin to mysteriously grow stronger and deal more damage without changing in the slightest, leading to a backward feeling of progression. There’s also an abundant amount of DoT and status effects introduced at this bit, leading to fights which feel unfair and frustrating.
Honestly, the best word to describe the second act of the game is simply exhausting. Nowhere else during Lies of P did I feel as defeated and drained as I did here, not even during the final series of bosses which were ridiculously hard to beat. They left me feeling satisfied and full of adrenaline once they finally went down: whenever I beat anything during this period of the game, though, I just felt annoyed and relieved that it was finally over, that I could just move on and get past the nonsense.
If you can suffer through this second third of the game and push through to the finale, I promise you the end is worth it. You’ll just have to endure a lot of nonsense in the meantime.
Sound and Design | The Sound of Springs
One of the best things about Lies of P is its world and atmosphere. On the surface, Lies of P’s world and art design bear some striking similarities to the dark, Victorian-inspired world of Bloodborne: both are grim, grotesque and beautiful in their own twisted ways. It’s only after walking around Krat and taking in its distinct brand of glumness that the difference between the two becomes obvious. Where Bloodborne relied on the Gothic, Lies of P garnishes the Belle Epoque era in the same vain, painting over Krat’s rotten core with the fancy, pristine mask of prosperity and promise.
Everything in Krat has this dim, glib feel to it. You can feel the pride and the arrogance the city folk had in every grand monument and extravagant building, and you alone are here to witness it crumble down. Each district and location in Lies of P has a distinct place and purpose, whether it’s the dead industry of Krat’s Train Station, the untamed wilds which lay deep below Krat’s clean exterior or the festering heap of unwanted puppets in the Barren Swamp. Lies of P develops a sense of identity and place that only grows stronger as the game develops.
Sound design is a bit more complicated. To put it simply, some sound effects don’t sound right, either being too dull or too impactful. In particular, fighting against the puppets is just abrasive, with the sound of combat – of banging steel and scrapping metal – being hard on the ears for whatever reason. Those initial few hours of clashing steel are hard to get through as a result, but it gets more tolerable as the game continues and you fight different types of enemies.
The flip side to this is that the music is really good… when it actually appears. For some reason, a lot of the areas in Lies of P are devoid of music or backing tracks, leading to the world feeling quite dead, which is admittedly pretty fitting. When this changes, though, is during boss fights where the music kicks up and serves to get your blood pumping. A lot of the tracks featured are very orchestral with loud, bellowing choirs which make your battles feel all the more epic and grand, reflecting the grandeur Krat once held.
Technical State | Pristine Puppetry
Finally, let’s go over Lies of P’s technical state and performance on the PS5. During 40 hours of playtime on the PS5, Lies of P ran beautifully and looked spectacular while doing so. For the entire runtime, the game held solid at 60 FPS no matter what. Whether I was exploring the rain-drenched streets of Krat’s pleasure district or battling some of the most intense bosses, I didn’t experience a single frame drop.
Lies of P was also relatively bug-free. I didn’t get a single crash and nothing major occurred while I was playing. Some that did arise had to do with collision on larger bosses sometimes locking you into corners, but this may be more of a problem with boss and arena design than anything else. The one memorable glitch I did have was after I died of a grab attack while healing: after the attack concluded, I was dead but still able to move. The boss eventually lost interest in me, the music cut out and the only way to escape was to close and restart the game.
On a purely technical level, Lies of P was nearly flawless without any crashes, frame drops or significant bugs to speak of. If you want to play a Souls-like where you know that death is on your hands and not the games, Lies of P is going to serve you very well.
Lies of P Game Code provided by icopartners.com