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Lies of P - Review



A majority of you readers should know by now that I’m a die hard fan of FromSoftware and their Soulsborne games. Their soft take on storytelling and how their universes are lore rich if you are willing to take the time to piece it all together. They’re maze-like level design and how much of it is a joy to explore, unravel, and see where the levels lead you too next. Combat which rewards the player for understanding the mechanics and mastering every encounter. The challenge despite scaling upward with each step is fair and it’s what makes these games so rewarding. The amount of times I and several other players come back to replay these games and dump dozens of more hours with each new run shows the quality and passion FromSoftware put into their work. They have grown into being one of the best Triple A studios in the video game industry and every bit of praise they get is honorably deserved. With fame comes influence, and with influence comes a whole generation of developers trying to recapture what makes their inspirations so great. Look at the metroidvania genre and how many genre entries pay respect to Metroid and Castlevania. With some entries managing to form identities of their own and take the genre/formula to new heights. However, compare to metroidvanias there’s only a handful of soulslikes I’d say are able to match up to FromSoftware quality. Just to clarify, I'm mainly talking about the 3D soulslikes. I have no problem with the 2D metroidvania ones and I would say those ones do enough to be more than just Souls inspired games. I mean you’ve seen me rant about them.


The 3D soulslikes, the ones that try really hard to imitate the Soulsborne formula, are the ones I am specifically talking about. In all honesty, most of the ones I played are really good. There’s the Nioh series which a lot of soulslike players consider to be the best. Mortal Shell, The Surge 2, Ashen, and Remnant: From The Ashes. All of these games are great in their own ways and have put fun twists onto the formula, but besides maybe Remnant not a whole lot of these are able to match up or surpass what the Soulsborne games have done. Whether that be through faulty level and world design, cool mechanics put alongside weird design decisions, or not understanding the games challenging yet fair not challenging for the sake of being hard. I’m not trying to talk down any of the developers for these games, but I don’t think I’ve played a soulslike that who managed to be equally if not better than FromSoftware’s work. That was until recently when I played one of my most anticipated games of 2023. A project I’ve been following ever since they revealed it and I’m so glad it finally came out. Lies of P, a game which asks, “What if we combined the well beloved Bloodborne with the classic tale of Pinocchio?” A weird question, but one that made the concept so appealing. First trailer released in 2021 and the expectations were set high. So many interesting things were being promised with Lies of P, and we just had to wonder when the game finally came out would it match these expectations? I, being a Bloodborne fan, have been really hungry and Lies of P was setting itself to be a successor.


It wasn’t a lovecraftian themed game with cosmic horror beyond our comprehension, but I was excited to play it nonetheless due to its setting, enticing premise, and how fun it looked. It’s been nearly two months since Lies of P came out. Everyone grabbed their hands on it and have been singing praises about how it’s one of the best soulslikes to come out. Again, I was really excited, but didn’t get to play it until after my midterms were done. Midterms come to a close, I decide to reward myself with a brand spanking new game, and one that I was anticipating. Pop the game into my PlayStation 5 and have been playing it nonstop for the last week or two. Lies of P is not only the best soulslikes I’ve played, but one that can match and succeed FromSoftware quality. In fact, I’ld even say I like this game more than all the other FromSoft titles besides Bloodborne. It is an incredible masterpiece and one of my Game of The Year contenders for 2023. I know there are a lot of other games out right now. Baldur’s Gate 3 is taking the world by storm for how it is setting new standards for RPGs, and not to mention earlier year releases like RE4 or Zelda. There are a lot of interesting games in 2023, but trust me when I say Lies of P is absolutely worth your time. I f*cking loved this game and it has quickly become one of my new favorites. Today we are gonna be talking about why I love Lies of P and why it deserves your attention.


Story


The game takes place in the vast city of Krat, a technological powerhouse renowned for its latest discovery Ergo. That being a mysterious blue energy found deep beneath the earth, and upon the city uncovering this substance they were able to use it for their own good. Krat revolutionized oh so quickly, and they even used Ergo to manufacture Puppets. The Puppets are basically robots, and new ones are designed each day to help the citizens of Krat. Whether that be as servants, to help in basic tasks, or construct new facilities for the city. Life was prosperous, and Krat would set the path towards the future as people from around the world sailed to where Ergo lied. All's well that ends well, but then something tragic occurs. The Puppets rely on a set of rules known as the Grand Covenant and it was made by Geppetto, the creator of the Puppets, to ensure they don’t do a few things. They don't have too much self-consciousness, they don’t disobey humans, they don’t lie and attempt to plot something against humans, and that they don’t kill people. This set of rules was encoded deep into the Puppets, but one day they went berserk. The Puppets went on a killing spree and began massaging the citizens of Krat. Fire raged through the streets and the only thing you could do for miles was piles upon piles of dead bodies. There was a group of well-trained humans known as Stalkers prepared for instances such as this from happening, but most of them went either crazy or failed to chase back the uprising of the berserk puppets.


Krat became a desolate place and nothing but the mad puppets and survivors roamed the streets. That is until you finally awoke. The game begins with what appears to be a young curly haired man locked away within a train. A mysterious voice by the name of Sophia tells him to wake up, bring along a lantern placed on a table nearby, and arm himself before heading out. He ventures through the streets of Krat until he makes his way to the center where Hotel Krat lies. Along the way the lamp which he carries awakens and it turns out to be an AI companion named Gemini. He doesn’t remember who he is, but he knows his current purpose is to help the curly haired boy who turns out to be a humanoid puppet. To get into Hotel Krat you must be a human, but as you know puppets cannot lie. However, we were made differently as we are not bound to the Grand Covenant. We lie our way into Hotel Krat and from there we meet the survivors who reside there. They tell us we must find the creator of the puppets, Geppetto, as he might know what to do with the current situation. We locate Geppetto who is being held against his will by a Stalker, and this is where we must do another thing puppets aren’t normally able to do which is kill humans. Geppetto is saved and he reveals to us that we are his son. He has been waiting for us to awaken, and now that we finally are we get to help him with work. Our first task is to figure out who is controlling the many mad puppets running amuck, and to do that we must defeat some of the stronger puppets around Krat. Along the way we see citizens affected by a plague known as the Petrification Disease, and the rumors of a secret society lying within. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Lies of P is a game whereas the story further unravels you get to uncover what truly happened for all the madness to happen. Only you can hunt the monsters of the night.


Gameplay


I’ve played my share of soulslikes and I knew exactly what I was stepping into with Lies of P. A challenging game with stamina-based combat, RPG leveling systems, and mazelike level design. You venture through the world, unlock new parts to explore, fight any enemy that decides to get in your way, and fight a boss at the end of every area. Every action you make uses up a bit of the stamina meter, and when that stamina meter is empty you have to wait for it to recharge so that you can perform more actions. Also keep in mind that when you perform an action you are then dedicating yourself to that action. You can’t cancel out of the animation and have to wait for it to finish performing before you can do something else. Actions that consume stamina include both light and heavy attacks, dodging, running, and blocking. Light attacks are genuinely much faster and the standard method of attacking, but heavy attacks can do more damage while also having a higher chance of staggering and being charged up to deal even more damage. Blocking is pretty simple and when the stamina bar runs out while blocking your guard is broken, but there’s a very unique system tied to it. Bloodborne has one of my favorite mechanics known as rallying where if you get hit you can recover some of your lost health by attacking back. This then encourages an aggressive playstyle rewards players for keeping the pressure up and retaliating back even if they may die. Risky, but a lovely reward that helps you stay alive longer. Lies of P has the guard regain where if you block you lose some health, but much like rallying it can be retained if you attack back. The developers managed to find a way to blend the defensive playstyle of Dark Souls with the active playstyle of Bloodborne, and I love it.


There’s also perfect guarding where if you block an enemy attack just when they are about to hit you will not receive any damage. Secretly perfect guarding is actually putting pressure on your foes, and pressure can also be increased if you maintain attacking. Doing this will make their red health bar outline in white, and if you hit them with a fully charged heavy attack during this phase you will stun them. Opening them up for what is a fatal blow. What you also have here is a nice blend of Sekrio into the mix, and you are going to have to get good at parrying for some of the later bosses in the game. You are bound to get hit or lose some health during your adventure, and of course you have an item to replenish it. The Pulse Cells is the Lies of P equivalent to the Estus Flask. Limited amount, but can be replenished at checkpoints making it an infinite healing resource. You can increase the maximum use capacity through upgrading, but we’ll get to that shortly. Another unique mechanic to Lies of P is how if you run out of Pulse Cells there is a way to get more and continue venturing without having to run back to checkpoints. Every time you hit a foe it charges an extra cell and that extra cell when fully charged serves as another Pulse Cell use. It’s a mechanic that rewards players for staying alive longer and performing well even during a stressful situation, and honestly I wish more Souls games adopted this feature so that I would not be forced back to checkpoints when I’m knee deep into scouring a vast level.


Anyways, you explore each area and open up shortcuts and checkpoints to cut down any of the backtracking you would do if they weren’t available. Along the way you will pick up new gear, upgrade materials, and Ergo which can be spent at Sophia to level your stats. Ergo can be lost upon death, but retrieved if you manage to get it back without dying before getting to it. Stats can influence one of several categories. Whether that be maximum health, stamina, weight limit as the more you have equipped the harder it becomes to dodge, and of course the scaling of your weapons as what you have are strength, dexterity, and intelligence builds. There are a lot of cool weapons to test in the field, but again Lies of P has another unique trick up its sleeve. Weapon assembly, which allows you to separate the blade and handle of a weapon and attach one of the two onto one of the other blades/handles. This opens up a multitude of options to experiment with until you find a perfect playstyle. Let’s say I have a simple saber with decent attack speed, and does decent enough damage. I can swap the saber blade out for a greatsword blade, which may slow down the attack speed but increase damage output and range of the weapon. I could attach the greatsword handle to a blunt head if I wanted to deal blunt damage. Each handle will scale with different stats, but there are cranks which can be applied to handles to alter the stats they scale with and how well they scale. Weapons aren’t the only tool you have in your arsenal though. The Legion Arm, which is basically the Shinbi Prosthetic, can be very useful depending on the situation and what arm you have equipped. There’s a grappling hook to yank foes close to you or pull yourself towards them. A flamethrower arm or electric arm which can be good for foes weak to certain elements. A shield which uploads upon hit, acid splasher, and much more.


Certain arm abilities will be locked until you find Legion Calibers to upgrade them, so make sure to explore the levels thoroughly. I’m not even done covering everything this game has to offer. Sometimes you find a special resource called Quartz while exploring and this will allow you to upgrade the P-Organ. A skill tree which offers some actually really helpful perks with lesser yet still health perks within. The way it works is that if you want a certain perk you are gonna have to invest enough Quartz into it, and each Quartz invested allows you to choose one of many lesser perks. Whether that be increasing the attack power of fatal blows, regaining health by performing perfect guards which is very useful, more health restoration from Pulse Cell use, and much more. Spend enough Quartz and you unlock that greater perk. That being stuff like increased Pulse Cell use, more slots to equip charms which like rings from Dark Souls, less health loss during guard regain, more fable slots which are used for weapon arts, and more. Let me flip through my notes here very quickly. (Pretend he’s flipping notes.) Okay let’s just do a rapid fire cover of the other mechanics. Your weapon has durability and when its durability bar is empty the weapon doesn’t perform well, so you have to use a grinder or repair kit to repair it. The grinder can be equipped with an elemental applier which can buff the weapon allowing you to make use of weaknesses. Fable, again, is used for weapon arts and it’s built up by hitting enemies which further increases an active playstyle. Wishstones unlocked around the fourth area can be equipped to a cube to apply a special effect on you or an ally. The cube works like the Wondrous Flash of Physic, but the wish stones are one use and must be bought from an NPC using Gold Coin Fruit grown from a tree with time. Speaking of ally, you can summon an AI helper called the Specter if available for a boss fight but you need Star Fragments which are one use also. Finally there is lying. There are several scenarios in the game where you can lie and sometimes lying is a good thing not only because of the scenario but it affects whether you become human or not by the end of the game. Is that all? Okay, I think that’s all. There’s a lot to unbuckle with Lies of P and the conclusion will summarize all my thoughts, but just know I think all of this is compelling. It’s well designed and while mechanics can be ignored or forgotten they are handled very well and I made use of everything that was provided to me. Hopefully you can brave the night, end the puppet rampage, and save Krat from what comes next.


Thoughts


Lies of P is a masterpiece. It’s a shame that a lot of critics are calling this an average game or that it’s imitating Soulsborne too hard, because it’s more than an imitator and a lot of the things it is doing is done well. I don’t think Lies of P is going to be for everyone, but yet again you can say that about a lot of soulslikes. Lies of P is truly a must play for anyone who loves the Soulsborne games and soulslikes as much as me. Combat is splendid and a nice mixture of all the great ideas FromSoftware has had over the years. The aggressive playstyle of Bloodborne, a nice sprinkle of defensive options from Dark Souls, risk and rewarding parrying of Sekrio, and a couple things to help balance everything out. Some of the bosses become a bit parry focused later on and if you are not good at parrying you might not have a fun time. However, I was prepared and one thing I liked about Lies of P is despite there being an emphasis on parrying and faster builds it doesn’t mean other options suck. Dodging still works as it provides a small window of invincibility and can be useful for attacks that leave you wide open after blocking or parrying. Simply blocking works as the guard regain encourages you to retaliate back afterwards. The mechanic that allows you to recharge a Pulse Cell when empty allowed me to stay alive late into a fight and on some occasions perform better as I played perfectly to get a resource I needed to survive. The weapon assembly system is great as I could swap out tools to fit the current situation I had. One thing I was worried about was weapon durability and how I would have to take time to brandish a blade during a stressful moment, but this is balanced pretty well as all you have to do is find a window of opportunity to do it much like healing. Build creation is simple like Bloodborne as weapons give a good idea of what they scale in and what playstyle they will specialize in. Want to do a strength build? Just put a ton of points into Motivity and pick any weapon that is twice the size of your body. If there's a weapon you like but it doesn't scale with your stats then alter it with a crank, and I like that because it means you aren't being locked from a tool you may want to use. Like I had a saber with poor scaling, but then I altered it's handle to scale with Motivity and it became useful. Right until the final boss actually!


One thing I like is how Moonstones, the material you use to upgrade, become plentiful overtime. Early on they can be rare, and you may have to stick a specific blade you’ve upgraded the most, but later on you get more and can purchase them from NPCs so that way you have options even in the late game. I like the P-Organ system as the perks offered are quite useful and progressing to an upgrade I wanted felt satisfying. It also got me to explore levels more and fight mini-boss enemies I normally would run past in most soulslikes. The level design is great with paths and shortcuts looping back to checkpoints or earlier parts of a stage, but the world design is much on the same side Dark Souls 3 is on. Lies of P is a linear soulslike where the central area branches off to other parts of the game you eventually go down, but personally I prefer a game with great level design over one with interconnectivity but okay quality areas. The Legion Arms are great, and I would occasionally swap them out to have one that better fitted a battle. In fact, I was often making use of elemental weaknesses as they could make a tricky fight into a more manageable one. Boss fights are a huge highlight for this game and some of them are the best I’ve seen in a soulslike game. I won’t try to spoil anything storywise, but there’s one boss which was basically a big old goliath enemy whose second phase had a humanoid form burst out. It was fun and one of my highlights of the year. Lies of P will find countless ways to kill you especially if you don’t play carefully or abide by its rules, but I wouldn’t say the game is unfair. In fact, this is the fairest soulslike I’ve played and understands that challenge is not how hard you make your game and should be fair. Something I think Nioh could learn.


Whenever I died in a boss fight or got killed by a trap I didn’t sit there in frustration. Instead, I sat there, realized what killed me, and eventually learned how to prevent it from happening. One of the optional bosses in the world which I wanted to kill for Quartz had an attack that constantly put pressure on me and made it hard for me to find an opening. Then I learned it’s a boss you want to mainly parry, and so I ended up defeating it with ease. I like how a lot of the story bosses allow you to summon an AI companion especially since some of these foes are relentless. I like how the resource to summon never felt low and in the endgame I was carrying up to maybe like fifty plus Star Fragments. There’s enough enemy variety and each area had some new terrifying foe to face. Elite enemies stay dead when killed which makes backtracking through their space less stressful, but they also offer fun rewards that may encourage you to kill them. Art direction is splendid and there’s one area that reminded me of the Cathedral Ward from Bloodborne. There are these musical records you can pick up throughout the game which increase humanity, but sometimes I like to like to listen to the music while in Krat Hotel because the songs are so lovely. I really hope they release an album soon, because I want to able to listen to this while driving my way to work. Just congrats to the orchestra that composed these songs! The game took me around twenty-four hours to beat and for some it may take longer, which is good runtime and anytime longer would feel annoying. Out of all the soulslikes I’ve played I say Lies of P is probably the most replayable and the one I’d most likely revisit. I think after I beat Elden Ring last year it made me realize I didn’t want to play a game as big or long as it ever again. I like the tight and more focused worlds of the Souls series, and Lies of P is more of the wonderful level design I love. Again, it’s linear, but it's very well designed.


The story is probably going to be a huge highlight for people as it blends the dense atmosphere and presentation of the Soulsborne games with the story of Pinocchio. It does it really well and even though I don’t know much about the original fairytale I had a sibling who said it was a very faithful adaptation. The original is actually very dark. There were a lot of things that wanted to kill Pinocchio and the puppet got caught in a lot of terrible situations that tested his will to live. That’s what I assume. Lies of P is a game about humanity. It’s not only about a puppet learning how to become human by doing the right thing, but also what it means to be one. Krat is falling apart and the visionaries who helped the city rise to power have slowly become corrupt. Many of the NPCs you talk to are going through their own struggles during the apocalypse, and you learn not just to lie to avoid the truth but offer them comfort during these stressful times. A lot of the choices you make feel impactful despite being railroaded towards a set goal, and the ending you get once you reach true humanity is great because you learn how to stay strong despite how bad the world has become. I don't think the story and writing is on the same level as something like the smartly written Disco Elysium or Nier: Automata, but it’s a well told one. Even though I like piecing the lore together in the Souls games I will say this is the most comprehensible story a soulslikes can have. It gives a clear idea of what’s going on while also hinting what’s happening in the background. This game is good. It’s really f*cking good. It wouldn’t be a review without complaint, so here goes. Despite the game being fair, I don’t like how some encounters are made more difficult by adding status ailments, but these are easily curable. Heavier weapons are fine, but playing with them later on feels suicidal as enemies and bosses become faster and hit harder. All the bosses are great, but some are low points for the game like a gank squad being done twice. I think two of the most useful Legion Arms are the grappling hook and electricity one if you level Motivity like me, but that could change depending on what build you want more. Last and formerly not least the camera sometimes screws you over. Like there were times during a stressful fight I backed into a wall, camera clipped, and I got pummeled to death, but that was more on my part and this complaint about the camera can be applied to any soulslike.


Otherwise, I don’t really have any major complaints. Nothing that holds it back and I’m surprised there are no technical issues with the game. No framerate drops, glitches, crashes, flickering, or things not loading like they should. I think everyone has just forgotten how games should come out these days, but Lies of P and several other good releases are proof of how they should. I paid a full sixty dollars for this game and every penny felt well spent as I got a grand package to play from beginning to end. Honestly, I prefer this game over the Dark Souls trilogy and Elden Ring. Yes, I said it and you can all deal with it! I love Lies of P so much, but can it replace my beloved Bloodborne? No, and that's ok because Lies of P does enough to form its own identity and stand tall as one of the biggest highlights for the soulslike genre. Lies of P is one of my favorite games of 2023 and I strongly recommend it. I give Lies of P a 10/10 for being incredible.


10/10, Incredible

This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!

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