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Lies of P Review

Lies of P Review

Years ago, scientists and alchemists came together after discovering a mysterious essence named Ergo. Through this, humanity advanced far and beyond, bringing to life puppets through the guidance of Geppetto. After years of peace and prosperity in Krat, the puppets have gone mad, a plague is spreading, and the city is in peril — as the seemingly final lucid puppet — Pinocchio — aid Sophia and Hotel Krat on their quest to save the city.

As a fan of all things soulslike, I have been closely following Lies of P for a long time. Not only is the Belle Epoque reimagining of the classic Pinocchio tale intriguing, but the soulslike setting and overall gameplay is something I looked forward to. From playing through the demo with every weapon to watching every trailer, it's safe to say that Lies of P is a game I've been anticipating for a very long time.

You'll begin your adventure as Pinocchio in a tram awakened by a blue butterfly controlled by Sophia, the game's portrayal of the Blue Fairy. Here, you'll pick up Gemini, the puppet guide (or guide puppet — he never could choose between the two), and you start your quest with three choices of weapons that will dictate your build moving forward. From my experience after playing through the first demo released in Steam Next Fest, I went for The Path of the Bastard: Dexterity, as the quick gameplay and fast-paced combat was definitely the one that felt most comfortable.

Lies of P Combat Style Choices

A number of things have changed from the demo that I'm quite pleased with, the most important of which is the game's new Guard Regain feature. This gives you far less punishing combat, as the previously focused approach of only perfectly guarding attacks gives you a bit more leeway when it comes to fighting. When enemies hit you while your guard is up, a percentage of that damage is transferred to a new bar that you can replenish by hitting them, which offers you a bit of your lost HP back and gives you more sustain, doubling down on Lies of P's aggressive approach to combat.

In fact, Lies of P takes a very avant-garde approach to the soulslike formula that is more than welcome. The game does a lot to innovate from previous entries in the genre and tries to rival FromSoftware's approach by using previously successful mechanics and building on them while still ensuring it remains its own experience and keeps its identity. The unique aspects make Lies of P feel like its own soulslike and make it stand out from the crowd.

This title heavily encourages you to use aggression and fight enemies head-first in a very Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice style while incorporating boss and enemy design reminiscent of DARK SOULS. Fighting aggressively and confidently with staggers and attacks made it feel fast-paced in a way that Sekiro does, which makes the combat extremely gratifying, though I can't say that the DARK SOULS boss design didn't feel a bit off when I was blocking massive tons of metal with a feeble rapier that felt like a glorified toothpick against these titans. That, and my instincts consistently begged me to flee or roll from some attacks, though as soon as I would swap to a more aggressor mentality and tried to lead the battlefield, I found significantly more success, even if it was the terrifying approach that every fibre of my being begged me not to take.

Lies of P Second Boss Screenshot

Guard Regain and Perfect Guarding while Staggering enemies definitely make Lies of P stand out in a fashionable sense. Fighting aggressively always felt like the rewarded approach, and due to this, boss fights were often relatively quick and easy for the first few zones. Truth be told, the fast-paced combat alongside various new mechanics made fighting in Lies of P the second most exciting experience I’ve had in a soulslike, as the amalgamation of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and DARK SOULS worked way more than it had any business doing.

One of the most interesting mechanics that I found in the fighting system is actually the capability to break enemy weapons. The game focuses heavily on battlefield equality (despite how it might feel with some of the frustrating bosses), where enemies can be afflicted with the same attributes that you can be, and everything works both ways. To my surprise, the ever-bothersome weapon durability mechanic follows this ruleset, too, as while this infuriating system might see you lose your favourite glorified toothpick as it breaks mid-fight, this also means that you can do it against other enemies. From common foes to minibosses, if you Perfect Guard their attacks or consistently hit them when they are guarded, their weapon will dull and break, and once it does, they are practically useless in a fight, losing all of their battlefield agency.

Truth be told, I really enjoyed being able to change status effects and using the strengths of my foes against them. Once I realised I could break enemy weapons, it became exciting and fun to see an enemy’s blade wither and waste away, and even some of the bosses in the game incorporate this mechanic, meaning that through enough perseverance, you can gain the upper hand — all you need to do is survive long enough to get there. Lies of P’s combat is a well-rounded package of aggressive playstyle that favours you in various areas and does so in unique ways not previously explored.

Puppet of the Future Screenshot Lies of P

Puppet of the Future, meet Glorified Toothpick

The first few zones in the game are relatively simple, with enemies posing little to no threat unless they are the terrifying bosses of the area. While these foes might seem hard at first, they have a bit of a repetitive pattern that not only can you learn, but will quickly do so due to the sheer amount of them that there are. Enemy variety is relatively poor, so that means that you are fighting the same puppets, monsters, and more for several areas, some of which even appear in the endgame!

While this made traversing through the world kind of simplistic because they were simply too easy at first, enemies do grow stronger and start implementing abilities — even unblockable Fury attacks — that spice them up a bit, but there are truly not that many of them. Though it might seem like this would make going from point A to point B to kill boss after boss, Lies of P interrupt this mindless cycle with quests, meaning you are encouraged to explore nooks and crannies. Unlike other titles where exploration starts feeling like a bit of a miss because you eventually have too much of some items or they just aren’t as great as you’d need, Lies of P hides some of the best rewards in its quests, and returning to an older area to complete them was always a fantastic change of pace, especially knowing that I’d find a great reward out the other side.

There are many collectibles, and the game gives you the ever-essential Quartz that let you upgrade your skill tree (more on that later) and various outfits (body and head) for you to decorate your Pinocchio without stats. This implementation made fashion souls so much more enjoyable, as being able to wear whatever I wanted meant I, quite literally, changed outfits time and again. Not having to think what was best for my build meant that — for the first time in soulslike history — I felt pretty when killing gargantuan creatures that devour flesh and metal alike. That’s always important in these games. 

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Ah, dashing as always.

Speaking of eldritch monstrosities that still haunt my nightmares, bosses were a massive hit-or-miss situation in Lies of P, though I found most of the enemies to be more enjoyable than not. While they were relatively easy, a part of the reason why I breezed through them was because the first two were from the demo, which I played a criminal amount. The later bosses do start becoming a bit mechanically packed, sporting two health bars, various status effects, and some of them can veer into what feels like unfair territory. It can sometimes feel like Lies of P forgets that it’s supposed to be fun, but that is because of one major caveat I’ve neglected to mention thus far: my build.

Throughout my playthrough, I focused heavily on my starting weapon, the Wintry Rapier, and Technique to bolster my damage — I knew coming in that if bosses looked at me weirdly, I'd die. In that regard, Lies of P manages to stay relatively balanced in terms of gameplay, as fighting the enemies and defeating them was a feat that I particularly enjoyed once it was over, as it felt like out the other side, I was pleased with the experience. Boss design was very enjoyable, albeit frustrating, with annoying mechanics like Acid (which melts both your weapon durability AND your HP), hidden multi-health-bar bosses, and even a one-shot mechanic that I was terrified would become more prominent (and thankfully, never did).

If you’re stuck on a boss, however, you can use the ever-abundant Star Fragments that allow you to summon a Spectre — an NPC that joins you in the fight and allows you to pummel your foes in 2v1 fashion. This didn’t break the game but definitely gave me a bit of an edge whenever I was struggling, especially if I really wanted to practise a second stage without going through the trouble of fighting through the first one. This was only available for major bosses, though, so the weaker ones you’ll still have to fight on your own, but I never felt that these were frustrating enough to warrant the use of a Star Fragment even if I could.

Lies of P Liar Image Four Rabbit Brotherhood Boss

That said, in its avant-garde approach, Lies of P misses the mark on some of its changes by putting a lot of emphasis on your Stamina bar, and this becomes a problem with later boss fights. Gargantuan foes that you need to run towards to close the gap, dodging, rolling, and blocking all cost Stamina, which you need to use also to hit (especially if you're going for a heavy Guard Regain build). Considering you are encouraged to fight aggressively, not putting a heavy emphasis on your Stamina bar in terms of character-building can destroy the enjoyable fighting altogether — after a certain point in the game, I dealt no damage, had no stamina to block or dodge, and I felt completely helpless. This was because of character building.

Realistically speaking, I’d say the weakest link that Lies of P has is its lack of build options that feel viable. The first and biggest offender is that, as a DARK SOULS player, I tend to grow fond of my starting weapon and refuse to move from it, which is impossible after a few zones in Lies of P because once you reach a certain level, your glorified toothpick will truly become a toothpick, and not changing can make a relatively easy boss fight into a seemingly impossible one. As it happened to me, after 20 tries and thinking I was probably the most embarrassing puppet in Krat, I changed my weapon and finished the fight on the next attempt.

Weapons aren’t the only thing that isn’t great in terms of character-building, as your capability to create a diverse build might be relatively limited as well. Needing to focus a lot on Stamina to ensure you can play as aggressively as NEOWIZ wants you to means that you are spending far too much Ergo to have what you need to survive, and a small Stamina bar proved to be the second most deadly thing I could do to Pinocchio. But, of course, you can’t forget that you also need Capacity high so you can change weapons in case your old one becomes bad and you need to get slightly heavier. The parry and block system are ever-welcome and easily one of my favourite additions to the genre, but the way Lies of P approaches it misses the mark by focusing on the Stamina bar in a way that FromSoftware knew to avoid in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

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Even the quintessential P Organs felt a bit disappointing. You can select from four powerful perks that will ensure you can do better in battle, but most of the time, the choices were pretty straightforward, and I felt that build variety even within this wasn’t great either. Though it was always very exciting to get a brand-new Quartz, and I always had a new perk I was looking forward to unlocking, it was still relatively disappointing to not be able to look forward to testing more builds because the rest felt quite weak.

That said, however, build variety might be poor and relatively weak, but it didn’t subtract from my enjoyment at all. While I do relish building a character, and I loved strategising my points in a fun manner, other titles have offered less customisation (like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or even God of War (2018)) and still managed to make fighting very enjoyable, something that Lies of P truly masters. Sure, I am not looking forward to different builds and new approaches the way I did in things like ELDEN RING, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing as the fighting is still great nonetheless, even if I felt like crying every once in a while.

I played through the entirety of Lies of P in 36 hours, and I found that the more I played it, the more I enjoyed its quirks, even if they were flawed at times. Sure, build variety wasn’t great, but once I got my Stamina bar high enough, I didn’t have to make split-second decisions between defence or aggression because I knew I could do both, allowing me to enjoy the quick-paced combat the way it’s supposed to be. And yeah, some of the bosses felt frustrating and infuriating, but out the other side, I felt so much better for having defeated them in the first place. Lies of P far from manages to create a balanced experience in terms of its fighting — many enemies felt either too weak or too strong — but there was still a fantastic soulslike gratification for defeating them that became addicting. 

King of Puppets Lies of P Boss Screenshot

From fighting various enemies in a single arena to frustrating mechanics, the fact that I managed to pass through it says something about the game’s balancing in general — it’s not great, but it’s not terrible. There were many bosses I immediately cherished and looked forward to fighting again, and this was even true for the final boss, which had me calling myself profanity more often than I’d like to admit. But once I got the hang of it and I stopped being scared, I started leading the battlefield, and before long, I’d defeated it. And let me tell you: that post-credits scene left me wanting more.

But to find that out, you must try the game yourself! And if you like soulslikes, there is little reason not to. NEOWIZ and everyone’s favourite puppet may just surprise you.

9.00/10 9

Lies Of P (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Despite some frustrations and hiccups in my experience, I cherish Lies of P out the other side. The bosses were infuriating but fun, and if anything, it left me wanting — nay, itching — to click the NG+ button.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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