Lies of P offers a hardcore Souls-like experience that delivers plenty of enjoyment and thrilling encounters. However, when it comes to the story, it may leave you feeling unsatisfied.
What you need to know:
- What is it? An RPG adventure in Souls-like genre
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
- Developer and Publisher: Neowiz Games
- Release date: September 19, 2023
- Available on: PC , PlayStation 4 , PlayStation 5 , Xbox One , Xbox Series X|S , Game Pass
A review key for Lies of P was provided by the publisher.
What once was the battle royale genre craze for multiplayer shooters, soulsborne is now for action RPGs. Neowiz's latest title Lies of P is another major video game clearly inspired by From Software's iconic masterpieces that released over the last couple of years.
But does it have what it takes to be compared to these classics that we all enjoy? Well, Lies of P might not outshine the Victorian streets of Bloodborne or the smoothness and excellence of combat in Dark Souls 3, but it has plenty of its own identity and qualities to be considered by fans of this challenging genre.
Lies of P draws its primary inspiration from the renowned literary masterpiece penned by Carlo Collodi, "Pinocchio." This classic tale revolves around a puppet whose singular desire is to transform into a genuine human boy.
Given that it's relatively uncommon to encounter a game inspired by a literary work, it's natural to have elevated expectations, particularly when it comes to the quality of the narrative. However, I must emphasise that you shouldn't anticipate a compelling story in this case.
In Lies of P, the story of Pinocchio served as a source of inspiration and nothing more. I can already hear staunch critics and fans of the Souls-like genre defending the game by saying that the story isn't crucial in such games. However, it's essential to convey that when you create a game with such rich narrative potential and still fall short of delivering it, it undeniably stands as a drawback.
It's important to emphasise that this is my opinion alone, and it could align with the sentiments of the broader gaming community, not just Souls-like enthusiasts. However, I want to reiterate that the absence of a compelling narrative won't have a bearing on the final rating. This remains a hardcore Souls-like experience where the primary focus is mainly on the demanding fights and challenging gameplay.
The story, much like the gameplay itself, throws you directly into the heart of the action without big introductions, which can be a bit disorienting. Essentially, the story revolves around an unnamed puppet that closely resembles and moves like a human. This puppet embarks on a quest to rescue Krat, a city where puppets were once employed by humans. However, a sudden malfunction in their systems, or sickness, as it is referred to in the game, leads to a revolt, transforming the once-thriving city into a grim graveyard.
You'll find yourself undertaking missions without a clear understanding of their purpose, tasked with rescuing the few surviving humans. As you progress, you'll gradually uncover the underlying cause behind the sudden and strange behaviour of the puppets.
Although the game includes characters from the original book, these characters come across as largely inconsequential, and I personally found it challenging to muster any genuine interest in any of them. They are uniformly bland and forgettable to such an extent that even if the entire hub hotel area, along with all the game's characters, were set ablaze, I would remain entirely apathetic.
One praiseworthy aspect of the story lies in the presence of three alternative endings. To truly grasp the game's full narrative potential, you'll want to explore each of these endings, a feat I personally did not accomplish, at least not within the relatively brief timeframe I had to engage with the game. My initial playthrough clocked in at a substantial 55 hours, which, while not insignificant, was predominantly occupied by repeated attempts at challenging boss encounters, to be perfectly frank.
The availability of multiple endings in Lies of P hinges significantly on a crucial aspect of the game: lying. Yes, within the game, you will face choices where you can either tell the truth or lie, and these decisions will ultimately influence the very outcome of the game. Choosing to lie will align you closer with human nature, while embracing truth will lean you towards the puppet role since, according to the game's premise, puppets are incapable of lying.
Lies of P is a genuine Souls-like experience, and it doesn't even require the "like" qualifier because the game closely mirrors Dark Souls in many aspects. From mechanics to menu layouts and upgrade systems, it borrows heavily from the Dark Souls formula with some distinct modifications. However, this resemblance should not be seen as a negative aspect of Lies of P. On the contrary, the game excels at executing these gameplay elements, making it a true delight for fans of the genre.
First, let's talk about the combat. Lies of P is exceptionally challenging, and you can expect to meet your death numerous times, not just at the hands of bosses but also from regular enemies. Whether you're a genre enthusiast or not, the game is ruthless and unforgiving, but given its nature, this is completely okay, even praiseworthy, to be honest.
The game strictly adheres to the Souls formula when it comes to combat, offering a wide array of weapons such as swords, axes, maces, spears, and long swords, each with distinct characteristics, at least in theory. However, in practice, aside from variations in weight and speed, these weapons often fail to show a truly unique feel during gameplay.
Each weapon in the game can be upgraded using Ergo, the in-game currency akin to Dark Souls' souls, along with special materials known as hidden moonstones. Additionally, for more advanced upgrades, you'll require slightly rarer materials.
Furthermore, each weapon is divided into two components: a handle and a blade. This allows for an extensive array of combinations and possibilities, as you can mix various handles with different blades. Additionally, you have the flexibility to upgrade and customise each handle, allowing for the fine-tuning of stats and providing each weapon with distinct configurations.
In combat, you have light attacks, heavy attacks, blocking to reduce damage, and you can regain health by counterattacking after a block. There's also a perfect block for parrying and a dodge move, similar to every other Souls game.
In addition to the standard attacks, you possess a powerful special move called "Fable Arts." akin to Elden Ring's Weapon Arts. When executed at the right moment, it can unleash devastating damage. You charge this move by either defeating regular enemies or consuming specific potions.
Your character is equipped with a unique prosthetic arm called the Legion Arm, which comes in eight different variations, each with its own set of special attacks like electric shocks, mine placement, explosive shields, and more. These Legion Arms can be further upgraded to enhance their effectiveness.
However, since everything is not just flowers and butterflies, I must address some downsides of the gameplay in Lies of P, and the first of many is the poor responsiveness of the controls. It's quite common for the game to register an extra input, leading to unintended actions like registering three attacks instead of two. This can leave your character vulnerable, which, given the game's already challenging nature, can significantly impact your gameplay experience, particularly during boss and mini-boss fights.
Speaking about bosses, the game doesn't do a great job of explaining why these formidable foes roam this world or why are you fighting them but they do match the overall atmosphere of the level you are at.
I also found that both mini and main bosses felt mostly the same, especially in the early game, where pretty much every mini-boss can be easily beaten by backstab. Main bosses left a lot to be desired too, as they often require the same strategy and don't change much even when they spectacularly switch to the next phase.
Another significant issue worth highlighting is the substantial difficulty spike during boss fights. In the case of most bosses, they tend to be exceedingly challenging for your character. While in other similar games, players can experiment with different strategies such as weapon changes or altering their build, Lies of P often necessitates a straightforward "toughen up" approach.
However, the primary dilemma lies in not knowing how and to what extent to do so, as there are no indicators that would help gauge your strength relative to the enemy you are trying to beat. For me, the only recourse seemed to involve a frustrating cycle of resetting levels, dispatching regular enemies, accumulating Ergo, levelling up, and then attempting the boss encounter again—an approach that can be seen as tedious and leads to a significant time sink.
While such an approach in games like Elden Ring is highly acceptable, as it encourages players to explore the expansive world and engage in diverse activities to grow stronger before facing a challenging boss, this option is notably absent in Lies of P. The game's linear structure and limited additional content make it less conducive to this kind of player-driven progression.
Apart from enhancing weapons, Lies of P offers various avenues to upgrade your character. You can boost your stats using Ergo and acquire skills through a unique material known as quartz, which is used within the P-Organ device, functioning as a sort of skill tree.
When it comes to extra activities, Lies of P does offer some content beyond the main kill-boss pace, but in terms of being genuinely engaging, it falls somewhat short. Occasional intriguing side quests do emerge, but their allure often lies in the cryptic manner in which they are presented—or, in some cases, not presented at all. Players are left to uncover these quests themselves and find the necessary actions to progress on their own. This approach to the side quest formula is great, and if anything about side content should be praised, it is definitely the side quest-solving approach.
In addition to the side quests, the inclusion of mysterious phone calls and the task of collecting specific items did not particularly capture my attention. Although there is some mystery in these riddles, and it pushes you somehow to solve them, even the reward at the end of the quest is hardly worth the trouble. Some other collectables, such as newspapers and records, are interesting but add little to the game.
Graphics and Sounds
To be clear and direct from the outset, Lies of P ranks among the most visually stunning games I've ever experienced, thanks to its truly fantastic graphics.
The game's beauty becomes immediately evident as soon as you start playing. Set in a gorgeously dark recreation of the Belle Epoque era, Lies of P immerses you in a haunting yet meticulously crafted atmosphere. The streets are littered with discarded robot dolls, lifeless figures, heaps of mechanical parts, and all the elements that vividly illustrate a prevailing state of chaos, where dolls and monstrous beings have seized control, displacing the once-dominant human presence.
The game's atmosphere surpasses that of any other I've encountered in my gaming experience. I had the opportunity to play it on PlayStation 5 while a colleague played it on PC, and after comparing both the visuals and performance, I can confidently assert that it delivers an equally impressive experience on both platforms.
On PlayStation 5, Lies of P offers two graphics settings: Quality-centered and Performance-centered. The former provides a more detailed experience at 30 FPS, while the latter targets a smoother 60 FPS with slightly reduced graphical intricacies. Both options deliver impressive visuals. However, given the game's demand for ultra-precise actions, I opted for the performance setting over the quality setting.
What struck me, and I believe it will be evident to you as well, is the remarkable attention to detail in Lies of P, especially when it comes to character design. Human characters are so intricately crafted that you can discern nearly every strand of hair. Moreover, observing P's behaviour and movements, you can distinctly perceive that he is indeed a doll. The developers have masterfully captured that distant, lifeless gaze, and it's truly incredible how they've conveyed it in such a convincing manner.
Furthermore, the textures are exceptionally sharp and rich in detail. When you combine this with the captivating atmosphere, the result is a graphical masterpiece that will captivate you from the moment you lay eyes on it.
The audio aspect of Lies of P also merits special commendation. All the sounds, including environmental noises, puppet and zombie vocalisations, as well as combat and weapon effects, are executed with the utmost precision and quality. The soundtrack, in particular, is nearly flawless and warrants special recognition.
Among the in-game collectables are gramophone records scattered throughout the game world, which you can bring back to Hotel Krat—a sort of central hub in the game. Playing these records on the gramophone during your stay at the hotel treats you to truly enchanting musical compositions. The ambience of the vinyl's crackling sound resonating through the hotel elevates the atmosphere to new heights.
When evaluating Lies of P from the perspective of high-quality and demanding gameplay, it unquestionably shines. The action is nothing short of spectacular, with heart-pounding battles and explosive encounters that keep you thoroughly engaged.
However, if you're anticipating a profound narrative or deeper significance from this game, you'll likely find those expectations unfulfilled.
Still, with all its strengths and a couple of notable weaknesses, Lies of P is a great game on our rating scale. It features such a dark, wonderfully crafted world that has plenty to offer to both souls like veterans and newcomers to the genre.