Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Review

Lies Of P Review

I want that twink obliterated

There was a quiet moment a few hours into Lies of P when I knew the game had managed to pull it off. Our impossibly pretty twink protagonist, the titular P-inocchio, had just skewered his umpteenth manic puppet on the road toward the looming Hotel Krat when a supernatural connection to a mysterious woman led to a brief rumination on the nature of a lie. “To lie is to choose, Pinocchio. And to choose is to be human”. In the grander scheme of Round8 Studio’s new Soulslike, the thematic and narrative weight of those choices, those lies, will feel different depending on your palette for the self-serious sillies, but for me, it was the exact moment, the exact combination of flowery words and tone, to tell me that Lies of P had emerged as heir apparent to FromSoftware’s brutal, beautiful empire.

Which is, frankly, kind of absurd. The premise of Lies of P has been memed and warmly dunked on since its initial reveal back in 2021 – a grimdark reworking of Italian author Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio. Amid the nose goofs and Disney-specific reference points it’s easy to forget exactly how impactful Collodi’s 1881 master text actually was. A universally understood metaphor for the human experience and filled with iconic imagery and quintessential Italian tomfoolery, those early adventures of the wooden boy were immediately prolific. In the hundred odd years since its release, it has been translated more times than we can count and read just as many, a hearts and minds campaign that leads us to a South Korean team’s wild gamble on the now public domain tale of a boy and his lies.

Krat is a dangerous place for a twink like P.

A sprawling, suffocating exercise in colonial expansion and endless growth, Krat sits atop a land rich in Ergo, a vibrant blue oil of sorts that fast-tracks the city’s central nervous system. Heavily inspired by the real-world Belle Epoque period that infused the Third French Republic with a similar prosperity and optimism, Krat is ornate, ordained, and burning. The match lit by the underclass of autonomous puppets created by Geppetto and prolificated by a system of equally ambitious, and deeply flawed, men. Some sit in a council of alchemists, prodding at the metaphysical edges of Ergo and its potential. Others build monuments to the technological revolution, manned entirely by artificially created life, humanoid or otherwise. Others still don animal masks and prowl the streets in an ideological hunt for the inhuman as only they can understand.

Then there’s you, the good boy, the best boy, Pinocchio. Awakened by Sophia, Lies of P’s maiden character with a unique connection to the Ergo, Pinocchio is set on a destructive and revelatory path through Krat’s dying final days. Although vastly outmatched by their creations, humanity’s clash with the now feverishly violent puppets is compacted by the spread of the Petrification Disease, an unknowable thing that painfully contorts flesh into stone. It is a grotesque and utterly fascinating powder-keg of a setting, doubly so when layered with the iconography and themes of Collodi’s contrastingly bright world. Pinocchio will come across all manner of violent tableaus but his one-sided relationship with Gemini, a wise cracking cricket who occupies a glowing lantern on your hip, can be trusted to break through the dread at just the right time. It’s undoubtedly bleak but rarely indulgently so, Lies of P playfully dancing with edgy concepts and abundant, strange warmth.

The flow of the game will be immediately familiar to anyone with even a passing experience in the genre. From a central hub location, you’ll venture forth into the world with a loose sense of direction provided by an existentially haunted array of characters who have gathered in this final safe place. Pinocchio’s quest is largely defined by his father, Geppetto, whose performative guilt over the fiasco unfolding outside the walls of the Hotel Krat is matched only by his insistence on your sticking to the good boy rulebook while butchering his other, less good children. Which is to say, don’t tell lies. While roaming the world, Pinocchio will be faced with situations that require him to either tell the truth or lie, either choice causing inscrutable reactions within his machinery and putting a Chekhov’s Lie on the table.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Lies of P’s level design is ornate and fun to explore

There is a fairly explicit narrative to follow in Lies of P, marking a change of pace from the game’s obvious inspiration points. Pinocchio’s descent into the madness of Krat is often gorgeously rendered and filled with evocative imagery, even when genre abstracts obfuscate some of the finer details. Pinocchio’s lies, or truths, have a range of impacts on the world around him, from the more direct game endings to the subtle, quiet character moments that define this almost entirely mute protagonist. Still, Lies of P has a wealth of weird and interesting characters to engage with, often riffing on the original children’s story in fun, earnestly cool ways. That same confident adaptation work is applied tenfold to Lies of P’s Soulslike combat systems and design impulses.

FromSoftware’s marvellous, unintentionally spawned subgenre has been in dire need of a shot of Ergo for some time now. There have been a number of attempts to claim the throne forged by Dark Souls and bejewelled by Bloodborne and Sekrio, or at the very least lay a hand on it. But most have ended up as middling foldout chairs, destined to park themselves in a close circle around the likely now unobtainable position FromSoftware has found itself in. Kind of an accidental (albeit technically deserved) mythologising of a genre before it could become one. Lies of P, with its commitment to the tonal bit and unerringly close approximation of the beloved house style of the genre, winds up finally placing a porcelain hand on the back of that coveted seat, proud but looming.

Round8 has taken a “yes, and…” approach to combat design in Lies of P, efficiently reproducing the basic tools of the genre before layering them with additional concepts that take hours of game time to introduce and fully realise. Pinocchio’s standard light and heavy attacks, dodge, block, and parry are all familiar and almost entirely flawless, the parry being the only wobble with timing relying more on a fragile feel for the correct moment than a hardline deployment. From these cornerstones, Lies of P begins to build though – Pinocchio is equipped with a Fable Arm, a lavishly decorated left arm that can be used as a variety of trick weapons and tools; spray an enemy with corrosive oil, fold out a shield, fire off a hook to violently yank a foe toward you, the list goes on. Pinocchio’s mechanical form also manifests in gameplay systems, with four defensive slots for a variety of gears and linings and a surprisingly layered passive skill system, the P-Organ.

Krat holds some fantastical secrets

These background systems lock in place with the game’s weapon variety and customisation, a brilliant bit of player expressivity that I hope FromSoftware are paying attention to. In Lies of P, every weapon (excluding special boss weapons obtained with boss Ergo) can be broken down into a blade and handle component and then mixed and matched on a whim. Does it make much sense to slap a great sword blade on a fencing handle? Not really. But Lies of P let me, and it was Good. Weapons can also be respecced in a sense; Pinocchio can find Cranks that correspond with certain skills and can be used to alter a weapon’s scaling to better suit your build. While I levelled hard into Technique (Lies of P’s Dexterity), I was able to have a Technique Crank bolted onto a motor-powered great sword and make the best of both worlds.

This is to say nothing of the bizarre, real-time Gold Coin tree system that generates special tokens every ten minutes that can be used to unlock hyper-specific trinkets. Or the various throwable objects and consumables. Or the Fable Slots that fill upon attacks and can be spent to deploy devastating attacks on foes at your convenience. There’s a constant tension in combat that strongly encourages aggressive play; damage can be mitigated by blocking but you’ll still take a portion of the hit, which you can in turn claim back by hitting your foe within a short window. A perfect parry will inflict major poise damage, enough of which will open the enemy to a huge, expressive flurry. Lies of P introduces you to all of these interlocking and engaging systems with grace and patience, slowly but surely building a shockingly robust tool kit by the end of its first act. Just in time for it to remind you what genre you’re playing and start absolutely wiping the floor with your twinky, lying little arse.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Lies of P has a fluctuating relationship with difficulty. Moment-to-moment Krat roaming often yields some standard cannon fodder enemies for you to hack up. These encounters are equally plentiful and enjoyable, giving you no shortage of chances to try out new weapons and farm some Ergo or item drops. Then you’ll come across some freaky looking piece of metal stomping around a yard and one of two things will happen – it will fold in two with shocking ease or snap you in half faster than your nose can grow. Both are a delight and emblematic of Lies of P’s boss encounters. Scattered on the spectrum between “not too bad if you’re patient” and “holy fuck I need to step outside for a minute,” these massive clashes house some of the game’s tightest combat work and more daring impulses.

I mean, look at this shit! Vibes out the wazoo

The overarching art direction found in Lies of P is initially easy to dismiss as something of a BioShock Infinite infusion to Bloodborne, but as the game unfolds across its lengthy campaign, the Ergo shimmers this world into fascinating new shapes. The real-world architecture inspirations make for familiar, well-rendered streets and iconography, themselves a mask for Krat’s true nature and the game’s subsequent descent into horror imagery and more naturalistic environments. Round8 is playing all the hits here just to its own tune; the boggy swamplands coagulate around rustic European countryside, the towering cathedral nearby rotting from a damp, open wound of a library at its core. There are dozens of these little flourishes throughout Krat, considered aesthetics meeting deliberate level design that still satisfies the need to create shortcuts and loop back around but knows exactly when to push you forward and when to let you take a moment for yourself.

And I took every single chance I had to breathe in the world of Lies of P. This game has a feeling that permeates everything it touches. Krat is an achievement in synergistic art but there is so much wonder to be found in the margins. Fashion and bodily form play a role in both player customisation and world setting. Immaculate sound work layers the almost ambient mechanical clicking of the puppets with an effortlessly rhapsodic soundtrack, the game dropping one of the best hub area ear-worms to date. Throughout Krat you can find or be given records that can be played in the hotel lobby and these tracks are far richer than you’d imagine given the gamey nature of how you come by them. The voice cast show up for work too, the main players delivering archetypal performances with enthusiasm and the slightest hint of a wink.

Final Thoughts

Despite its undeniable use of core FromSoftware mainstays in building its foundations, Lies of P emerges as so much more than a simple imitation. The game’s origin points, both expected and strange, belie the clarity of vision that is found throughout almost every aspect, whether borrowed, adapted, improved upon, or wholly original. Round8 proves itself more than capable of pulling the strings, which makes the game’s absolutely fucking wild post-credits tease all the more exciting and hilarious. A delightfully mean world inhabited by equally spiteful creatures and a bevy of sharpened tools with which to go hunting, Lies of P is a tremendously fun surprise.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Click here for more information on WellPlayed’s review policy and ethics

Lies Of P Review
Pretty little liar
Lies of P melds its strange choice of source material with a sublime set of combat and customisation tools to craft a unique take on the Soulslike that stands shoulder to shoulder with its genre inspirations.
The Good
Refined and fun combat
Player expressive customisation systems
Gorgeously crafted world and atmosphere
Fun use of the source material
The Bad
Parry timing is a little wonky
9
Bloody Ripper
  • Round8 Studio
  • Neowiz Games
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC / Mac
  • September 19, 2023

Lies Of P Review
Pretty little liar
Lies of P melds its strange choice of source material with a sublime set of combat and customisation tools to craft a unique take on the Soulslike that stands shoulder to shoulder with its genre inspirations.
The Good
Refined and fun combat
Player expressive customisation systems
Gorgeously crafted world and atmosphere
Fun use of the source material
The Bad
Parry timing is a little wonky
9
Bloody Ripper
Written By James Wood

One part pretentious academic and one part goofy dickhead, James is often found defending strange games and frowning at the popular ones, but he's happy to play just about everything in between. An unbridled love for FromSoftware's pantheon, a keen eye for vibes first experiences, and an insistence on the Oxford comma have marked his time in the industry.

Comments

You May Also Like

Board Game Review

You win, or you switch sides

Review

Remember, remember

Review

Ultraviolence

Review

Hot Prince Time Machine

Advertisement