This Souls-Like retelling of Pinocchio shows that being human isn’t always easy.
Lies of P
Developer: Neowiz Games
Publisher: Neowiz Games
Release Date: 9/11/2023
Review Score: 9
Lies of P is a must-play for those that are fans of fast action, a good challenge, and Souls-Like titles.
Reviewer played on PC. The publisher did not provide a code.
As a huge fan of From Software titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Bloodborne, when I saw the announcement for Lies of P, I was beyond stoked. I was still cautiously optimistic because I have played several games that try to capture the magic that FromSoft’s games bring to the table, and most of them just don’t feel quite right. I’m happy to say that while not perfect, Lies of P does the best job that I’ve seen so far.
Lies of P is a story based on the literary classic Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It’s about a puppet that wants more than anything to become a real boy and he goes on a perilous journey to do so. While that story was a children’s tale, this one is not. The setting for Lies of P is a Belle Époque era world that just hasn’t had the best of luck.
Not only is there a disease going around that is petrifying people, but all of the puppets that were created to help humans have now gone insane and are killing everyone. Pinocchio is then awoken in order to put a stop to all of this madness.
Lie to get what I came for
Lies of P’s developers, Neowiz, have a lot of love for Souls games, and that’s putting it lightly. Lies of P meshes together the fast paced styles of both Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice with how its combat, dodging, and guarding systems work.
Guarding is a very big component of the combat here. The way it works is that you can block an incoming attack, but if you just hold the guard button or don’t have the correct timing, you will take a bit of damage. If you retaliate against the enemy quickly though and hit them without taking any additional damage, you will recover a certain portion of your health.
If you block an attack at the perfect time though, you won’t take any damage, and this will build up an invisible meter that can cause the enemy to be able to be staggered if you are successful enough times with your perfect guards and then are able to hit them with a charged heavy attack.
Unleash the fury
Enemies also have attacks where they begin to glow red called Fury attacks. These can’t be dodged through or blocked, but instead have to be perfect guarded. The only issue I have with this is that the timing window for perfect guards is incredibly tight and could probably be upped a few frames.
Also, a lot of the enemies you are dealing with are puppets, and they have erratic attack patterns due to their stilted movements. This will definitely make the beginning of the game much more difficult for people who are just trying to block everything.
Dodging is also extremely important, and being someone who got Sekiro vibes off of this game with the heavy emphasis on perfect guarding, I neglected dodges for several hours. There are some boss fights that became a million times easier once I started utilizing my dodge.
The only real complaint I have about the dodge is that there are two abilities (dodging immediately after a dodge and a dodge recovery when on the ground) that were locked away behind an upgrade system and those felt like they should have been available from the beginning of the game.
Attack of the killer…puppets?
The weapon combat is fast and smooth, with light, heavy, and charged attacks with whatever weapon you choose at the start: a rapier, saber, or a greatsword. There are many weapons in the game to be found that range from a giant hammer to even a fire axe. The best part about the weapons is that they can be mixed and matched.
Each weapon (with the exception of boss weapons) can have its top half removed from the handle section and then you can switch them around however you like. So if you really like the blade of a certain sword but you wish it could use the attack style of the rapier you have, you can make a new weapon like that.
Every weapon can also be ascended for higher damage output using materials found in the world. You can even find different crank handles that change which stat the weapon scales damage with, or just raise the current stat a letter grade to make it stronger with that particular stat.
Speaking of scaling, leveling up in Lies of P works just like a Souls game. Pinocchio just has to talk to a lady named Sophia in the hub area and she can increase his stats in exchange for ergo. Defeating enemies or finding certain items will give Pinocchio ergo, and this essence can also be used to purchase items, equipment, or ascend weapons.
There are no strings on me
There are plenty of other items to be found in the game like throwable weapons such as thermite or even saw blades, and all of these can be equipped to Pinocchio’s belt. There are upper and lower as well as an extra compartment to the belt, and these can hold a few items each.
The two most important items are pulse cells and the grinder. Pulse cells heal Pinocchio and the grinder will replenish a weapon’s durability. Durability isn’t really a huge issue in the opening hours of the game, but from about the halfway point onwards, it becomes something you have to stay on top of.
Another aspect of the grinder that shouldn’t be ignored is the fact that it can be equipped with an elemental effect. This can be used to put an effect like fire or shock onto a weapon for a brief period. Different enemies and bosses are weak to different elements, so using these can make a huge difference in battle.
Armed to the nose
Pinocchio is also equipped with an arm that can take on many forms. It can be modified to be stronger and can be turned into a flamethrower, shield, or even a cannon. I didn’t use this a ton, but it for sure helped sometimes when I was in a pinch.
Enemies and bosses have a good deal of variety to them, with plenty of new stronger variants of enemies in each new chapter. If you think I’m kidding about the variety, just note that there is an operatic puppet spider lady. Yep, you read that right.
Bosses were absolutely wild and always brought a nice stiff challenge, even if I do feel like the difficulty ramps up significantly where it should have had a little bit more of a gradual climb as opposed to a giant leap.
My world’s on fire, how ‘bout yours?
Lies of P isn’t the open world game you might be expecting. It’s broken up into chapters and follows a narrow progression. I don’t really think this is a bad thing though. There are enough places to explore within each chapter that things don’t get stale and you can return at any point to previous areas to do so.
There are plenty of secrets to find, characters to interact with, and little side quests to obtain and complete. Sometimes these will even merit the player a record, which can be listened to in order to increase Pinocchio’s humanity. I really dig the tunes, too. They are calm, peaceful, and just all around pleasant to the ears.
There is a hub world of sorts called Hotel Krat and this is where you will spend a lot of time in between chapters. It’s where you can upgrade, shop a bit, and relax.
The locations in the game primarily take place in places throughout the city. Places like the streets, an Arcade, or an Opera house. There are also areas like forests, a factory, and a cathedral.
A beautiful but broken world
Most of the areas feel rundown, dark, and empty besides the few people left inside who haven't been taken by disease or the things stalking the streets. It's a sad and overall bleak world and the game captures that aspect quite well.
Occasionally during dialogue with a character, you will be given a choice between two responses. One is typically the truth and the other a lie, and these choices impact how the game ends. It also shows that sometimes lies are just a part of being human.
The visuals within the game are absolutely wonderful and the framerate was as smooth as silk during the majority of my first playthrough. There are a few visual bugs like certain weapons clipping through floors or large enemies clipping into the background, but nothing that was too terrible.
While I do think the audio mixing could use a little tweaking, I really enjoyed all of the music, voice acting, and even the sound of the wind blowing through the trees in certain areas. Little touches like that really elevated the overall experience.
Master of puppets
Lies of P also has a new game plus mode, which is excellent because who doesn’t like keeping most of their gear and going through a game again with more of a challenge?
There are a few things that I think could be improved in Lies of P, like the dodge issues I mentioned earlier as well as the parry window timing and difficulty spikes, but overall this is just an excellent game. It brings so many brilliant elements together and creates its own identity with them.