Lies of P

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Lies of P review
Jordan Helsley


Art Imitates Greatness

Art Imitates Greatness

It's impossible to discuss what makes Lies of P special without invoking the name of Bloodborne, and other games in that lineage. Doing so would ignore a clear inspiration, but relying too heavily on that comparison would disregard a massive amount of passion and care that makes Pinocchio's radical new direction special. It's an example of not only homage, but also expansion, evolution, and creativity. I beat its "spiritual predecessor" no less than 14 times, and I'm well on my way to doing that with Lies of P, mostly because the game respects me as a player, but also because it triggers many sectors of satisfaction in my brain.

To get it out of the way: many of the genre mainstays are here, and many unique aspects of Playstation's most anticipated, but never revealed, PC port make their way over as well. Damage recovery, checkpoints, currency runs; it's all here. None of this makes Lies of P some sort of knock-off or also-ran product, but instead showcases the developers' intricate knowledge of what makes all those gameplay elements satisfying to so many players. Among an abundance of similar games in the past handful of years, it instead stands above all of them because it simply understands the source material and combines it with features that players will likely enjoy without tarnishing the formula.

Knock-Off, Or Something More?

In a vacuum and compared against its contemporaries, Lies of P makes challenge satisfying. Make no mistake: this game will punish you if you let it, but it also gives you the exact tools and knowledge to punish it right back. Each of the mega- and mini-bosses herein are preceded by plenty of fodder (relatively, of course) enemies meant to teach you how to utilize the multi-layered combat to maximum efficiency and kick potential bad habits.

The combat centres around two core philosophies: weapons and parrying. Weapons are plentiful enough to let you, ask you, beg you to experiment. Even before your first boss fight you'll be given ample opportunity to pick up the leftover two weapons from your initial playstyle choice. Fear not, those three swords are only the beginning of something much bigger. Despite upgrading my trusty main significantly, I was constantly given new deadly armaments to test out and it was a joy to do so. Each of these weapons, though, with the exception of boss weapons, can be disassembled into a blade and a handle. Doing so allows you to craft a murdering implement that fits your build from something enticing that is normally counter to your stat allocation. Weapons may not transform mid-combo, but they transform all the same, and more significantly. Outfitting a fire-laden knife with a heavy handle to fit my strength build was the first revelatory moment of many, and helped my quest to defeat particularly tough bosses.

Slicing, Dicing, and Bashing

The distribution of stats is standard, but the variation in weapons is near-paramount to your success, in concert with your raw skill. Damage mitigation on block can be a particularly useful weapon stat, as the combat in Lies of P somehow splits this line between demanding extreme patience and furious aggression, while relying heavily on its parry mechanic. The timing on this is extra tight, which is to say it's very unforgiving. Raising your guard is also not instant. This constant moving target can be frustrating, particularly at first, but mastery borders on euphoria, especially against enemies who unleash a flurry of attacks. Hitting five perfect parries in a row not only feels great, it can also stun the attacker, or even break their weapon (if they're using a weapon). To keep the player uncomfortable, enemies will constantly hitch and feign to throw your timing out the window. They're constantly attacking on the off-beats, and, in lieu of successful parries, blocking and dodging will often lose you chip damage. It's punishing, and on occasion feels too much so. There's instances of stun-lock deaths, overwhelming enemy numbers, sticky geometry in the worst possible time, and even devilish booby-traps that dare you to lose your cool. There's even a risk reward in your health potions: when your inventory reaches zero you can build back up to one by dealing damage. Be aggressive and get another quick heal, or attempt to sit back and poke until that meter fills? No matter your tactic, if you succeed, you get to pop that health, and dance again.

Special attacks, a skill tree, and a left-handed power attack all serve to round out your loadout, and you'll need to utilize all of them in order to progress through this vast, demonic, but ultimately beautiful world. As any game of this style requires, it necessitates exploration and rewards it, not only with characters and items, but stellar visuals thanks to immaculate art. Equally as impressive is the level design throughout. Especially early, Lies of P can't be considered a non-linear game. Still, when the path did branch out, the design language conveyed to the player constantly led me to the dead-end spot with a chest before I went down the critical path, which I thought was impressive. The evolution of the world was also something to behold. This plague-ridden 19th century city, bereft of humanity, now features ghosts of celebrations and amusements, and it devolves even further as you progress. The warpath of this disease, and coinciding revolt of the subjugated puppets, is told in each inch of this world.

Lost In Gothic Europe

That's where you come in, as the robo-puppet who can lie (but whose nose never grows). You've been brought to life, given a cricket/lantern to help you in your quest, and tasked with tracking down Gepetto, creator of the puppets, to stop the revolution, and as a puppet you must obey. Through the twists and turns of the story you'll employ your ability to lie a number of times, cryptically experiencing effects based on your answers. Of course, there's plenty of ambiguity throughout this world, but you're given plenty of explanation to see the layers this story has to offer. It didn't take long for it to hook me, and it ended so far from the starting point that the ride was intriguing as well. Intelligent design decisions ease the burden a little, though, as side-quest items will mark their applicable zone with an icon, more useful for jogging your memory than leading you directly to the solution. It's one of many small touches that helps you engross yourself with the city of Krat.

The sum of Lies of P's parts is grand, but it manages to be even more than that. Despite frustrating "gotcha" moments and a few cheap enemy encounters that feel out of place in something so finely crafted, the whole experience holds a level of polish you'd expect only of seasoned veterans. Truth be told: I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this was a side studio of a certain, well-known developer, and I don't think I can be more glowing than that. Even in the end, after I fawned over the combat system and its dichotomous weaponry, happily sought out bits of information to expand upon the engaging story I was involved in, and felt the ecstasy of conquering a multi-hour boss, I wanted to go back for more. And despite the already unique pitch of "gothic, horrific Pinnochio adaptation," the developers are keen to let you know their future plans are even more ambitious (and tailor-made for me), which somehow elevates Lies of P even further beyond face value.

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fun score


Pitch-perfect souls-like gameplay and mechanics with several twists to let it form its own identity. The difficulty is mostly satisfying, the world is gorgeous, and the story complements the entire package.


A few too many “gotcha” moments, cheap traps, and clumsy enemy encounters made worse by sticky geometry in places.