Lies of P Review

Welcome to the liar's club

By Paul Hunter

Two of the questions I always ask myself when deciding how much I'm enjoying a game I'm reviewing are 'How long were my play sessions' and 'Was I motivated to start a new game after beating it'. In both cases, Lies of P from Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio smashed it and passed with flying colours. Over the last two weeks, I've put more than 60 hours into the game and have nearly completed it twice. Even more telling is once I cleared it the first time, I immediately started my New Game Plus+ run without hesitation. Lies of P is way better than it ought to be considering this is the very first Soulslike game from the team, but with such a stellar first effort I'm already hoping we get DLC and a sequel.

Let's head on into the city of Krat to find out why Lies of P should be on the radar of every Dark Souls and Bloodborne fan. Here are three things I liked about the game...and one I didn't.

Liked: Absorbing Story and Lore

Lies of P tells an original story inspired by the tale of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet carved by his father figure Geppetto and dreams of becoming a real boy. It's a familiar story but takes a unique twist as this version of Pinocchio is set in a fantastical version of Paris during the Belle Époque era of 1871-1880. Set in the dark and menacing city of Krat, it's a place filled with once-friendly puppets that have turned hostile against their masters. You play as P, a puppet who must fight his way through this dangerous city to locate Gepetto and discover what it takes to become human.

Since the very first trailer of the game, there have been comparisons of Krat to Bloodborne's Gothic city of Yharnam and it's all absolutely true. Lies of P is not afraid to display its Bloodborne influences on its sleeves and the familiarity is welcomed considering it's been eight years since FromSoftware's masterpiece and no sequel is in sight. Much like Yharnam, the city of Krat is suffering from a deadly plague called the Petrification Disease that is slowly killing the human population that resides within the city walls. At the same time, a revolutionary energy source called Ergo, which powers the puppets within the city, is being corrupted by an unknown source turning the instruments into deadly aggressors that attack on sight.

Playing through Lies of P I was consistently impressed with the worldbuilding going on here, from the dozens of posters, letters and notes you'll find revealing details about the puppets and key characters, all the way to the distinct art style of the eleven districts you'll visit over the game's 30-hour campaign. If you take the soak in all the bits of lore the game presents you with you'll discover a deeply fascinating world with layered characters and rich history.

I was also quite impressed with how memorable the main characters are, even if they follow similar tropes seen in games like Demon's Souls and Bloodborne. Your home base in Hotel Krat begins with a few folks already residing there, like the maiden Sophia with the power to level you up, the blacksmith Eugenie who upgrades your weapon and Legion Arm and the wise Antonia, a friend of Geppetto who knows all the secrets of Krat. The hub zone will gradually get populated with other folks you rescue during various chapters and each one of them has their own backstory, side missions they'll give you, unique items for completing said missions and trophies for completing their story arcs. I enjoyed how mysterious some of the characters were, particularly Venigni who claims to be the richest man in the city, and Alidoro, a suspicious merchant who gives off clear Patches (from the Souls games) vibes.

Liked: Phenomenal Gameplay, Systems and Bosses

I read that the developers of Lies of P intended the challenge to be a little more accessible compared to other Soulslike games, but it turns out that's not true at all. The game is brutally hard, particularly the bosses, so you really need to deeply learn all of the game mechanics. The good news is that you've got a good-sized toolkit to work with, ranging from a wide variety of weapons, your mechanical Legion Arm, a vast P-Organ upgrade system, throwable items and helpful spectres you can summon into boss fights.

Starting with the weapon, there are three main types which should heavily impact how you build out your character. First, there are slow but powerful weapons like greatswords and large blunt objects and these scale with your Motivity stat which is basically akin to your strength. Next, there are a variety of nimble curved blades and daggers that scale with your Technique stat aka your dexterity. Finally, there are a few magical weapons imbued with fire, lightning or poison and these scale with your Advance stat, analogous to intelligence.

For my run, I chose to build a tank character wielding greatswords and was able to complete the game without too much difficulty, but in hindsight, I'm expecting dex or magic build will be more effective. And that's mainly because bosses in Lies of P hit hard and fast—and your window of opportunity to retaliate is generally quite slim. Large weapons generally have a very long wind-up animation that can leave you vulnerable, so you need to time strikes well. Unlike From's Souls game where bosses have patterns you can recognize and learn to defend against, I found many bosses in Lies of P to have more erratic attack patterns and it was harder to anticipate when to strike back.

Similar to Wo Long and Sekiro, Lies of P focuses heavily on perfect parrying enemy attacks which results in your character taking no damage while also building the boss's stun meter. But unlike those games, I found the window to successfully execute a perfect parry to be extremely slim and it took a lot of practice to master the timing for each boss. Every boss has a range of regular attacks that you can dodge, block or parry but also have special glowing red attacks that can only be perfectly parried. Thankfully, and mercifully, part way through the adventure I found an amulet that allowed me to dodge red attacks and it was a lifesaver.

When battling common enemies, I rarely used P's Legion Arm, a prosthetic device equipped with special moves. But up against a boss, your arm is crucial to success. Over the adventure, you'll gradually unlock eight different arms ranging from the flamethrower Flamberge to the explosive-shell firing Falcon Eyes to the Aegis shield that offers a more traditional weapon and shield Souls experience. I heavily invested in the Capacity stat which increases your max equip load while also increasing your Legion meter required to use the Legion Arm abilities. Once I acquired the Falcon Eyes arm that was a literal game-changer as I could finally attack bosses at medium range and get a small reprieve from the ultra-challenging close-quater combat. Legion Arms can also be upgraded using a rare currency to increase their power, extend the range or augment the attack.

Turning our attention to the P-Organ upgrade system, it was crucial for me to advace further into the game. Using a rare material called Quartz, you can unlock highly beneficial upgrades like increasing the amount of Fable you can build up, which is used to unleash your weapon's two special abilities. You can also reduce the damage you take when rolling, increase the potency of consumable items, and even auto-regenerate your Legion meter in battle. My advice is to very strategically plan out your P-Organ upgrades because they're vital for giving the edge in boss fights, particularly in the game's latter half.

Next, you'll find a variety of throwable items that can also aid you in battle. If you're like me and typically ignore throwable items in Souls games, I can't stress enough how important these items are in Lies of P. Throwables can do quite a bit of damage and allow you to attack from range, two big pluses when facing off against the brutally hard bosses. But even better, you can throw fire, electricity or poison bombs that inflict status effects and they can quickly turn the tide of battle in your favour. Electricity, for example, makes bosses temporarily more susceptible to damage and that in turn can make it easier to stun them to deliver a powerful fatal strike. Both fire and poison will continually drain the boss's health and make them take more damage from that element. So if you ignite the boss using your fire bombs, you can then switch to a fire-imbued weapon to deal significant damage while they're weakened.

On the topic of bosses, wow are they impressive! They're huge and very detailed, and most of them have a chilling Souls-like intro scene where they awaken from a slumber, make a dramatic appearance or show off some of their moves to immediately intimidate you. Most bosses are gigantic puppets, although there are a few humans and corrupted monsters you'll face as well, and that's on top of a dozen mini-bosses that are also quite tough. Boss variety is also quite nice with some being small yet mighty while others are large and elaborate. Nearly every boss in the latter half of the game has a second phase accompanied by visually impressive cutscenes showing their new deadly transformation.

Liked: Gorgeous Gothic Art Style

Lies of P's gothic setting is stunning and I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the dark and ominous city of Krat against the circus visuals considering the puppets were once entertainers before turning evil. The scenery constantly changes, too, whether that's you exploring the dark back alleys of Krat, the city's central train station, a decadent cathedral, a beautiful opera house or descending the treacherous Hermit's path.

Likewise, the cutscenes are also nicely presented with characters having exquisite detail and unique looks reflective of their personalities. I thought the boss intros were especially great and made these fights all the more memorable. And as previously mentioned, the bosses themselves are exceptionally well designed and I could easily see of them ranking in a Soulslike genre top 10 list.

Soundtrack-wise, Lies of P plays to its theme with dark orchestral arrangements using era-appropriate instruments. While I thought the musical score was good, the collectible records are the real highlight. There are 16 records in all to collect, and each one can be played on the gramophone at the Hotel Krat lobby. A bunch of these songs feature beautiful vocals and have catchy melodies that really captivate. The tracks often have lyrics that reflect the sombre emotions of the story, including lies, hypocrisy and memories.

Didn't Like: Hit Detection is Off

While overall I enjoyed the gameplay in Lies of P, there's no denying that I had to go through some trial and error to find the right weapon to use because of the imprecise hit detection. A lot of weapons are very short, but compounding this I found the hit detection is off for some of them. There were times were I clearly hit enemies yet the blows weren't registering. Against the formidable boss, it was unforgivable since missing a single strike or two can mean the difference between success or death. I also discovered that hit detection depends on the enemy's animation—almost as if they had i-frames which shouldn't be the case for bosses that are already tough as nails. It was frustrating having to pass up using a few preferred weapons, but I eventually found some that better registered the strikes.

Didn't Like: Forced to Get Good

After 30 hours of focus and dedication I did manage to complete Lies of P, however, there were definitely a few bosses that pushed me beyond my limits. And that's all fine and good considering it's a Soulslike game, but the annoying part is if you get stuck on a boss to very little you can do aside from getting 'good'. What I mean by that is unlike say Elden Ring, where you can simply skip a tough boss and venture else should you get frustrated, Lies of P is an extremely linear experience so you must beat each boss in sequence to continue on.

Dark Souls games are also fairly linear, but they often have branching paths that help to ease the challenge. If a boss gives you trouble in Dark Souls, oftentimes you can take another path to visit a new area to gain better equipment, new spells and level up your character. Lies of P, in contrast, has only one side path (at least that I discovered) so if you're stuck on a boss there's no way to get better equipment or helpful new items. For better or for worse, you're stuck fighting a boss over and over until you finally put them down. There's always the option of grinding levels, but gaining a level barely increases your stats so it's rarely worth the effort.

The Verdict

Lies of P exceeded all my expectations and has instantly become one of my top games of the year. The story and lore drew me in, but it was the superb combat and eye-popping bosses that really cinched it for me. The lush gothic visuals and wonderful soundtrack merely seal the deal. If you're craving a rich Soulslike especially if you enjoyed Bloodborne!) then Lies of P more than delivers.

Final Score: 9/10 - Amazing

Lies of P details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Neowiz Games, Round8 Studio
Publisher: Neowiz Games
Genre: Soulslike
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

A key was provided by the publisher.