Lies of P Review: Pinocchio's Twisted Fantasy

Lies of P forges its own identity while harnessing the best aspects of From Software's "Soulsborne" franchise.

It's hard to dispute that a game and/or game series is popular when it is able to spawn its own genre. Such is undoubtedly the case with FromSoftware's "Soulsborne" games, which includes Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro, and Elden Ring. Lies of P doesn't hide the fact that it takes heavy influence from these entries, placing the puppet protagonist into a bleak scenario meant to cause players headaches in its overall difficulty. Luckily, Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio clearly brought their A-game when it came to this dark masterpiece, weaving a tale that stands toe-to-toe with the From entries it was based on. 

The city of Krat was once a steampunk utopia, populated with a mixture of human citizens and the mechanical servants that served them. Due to mysterious circumstances, the puppets have turned on their masters and have unleashed a torrent of death and destruction. Stepping into the shoes of a very new take on Pinocchio, players are asked to navigate their way through what remains of Krat, experiencing horrors and colorful characters that line the city streets. 

To start, Lies of P is absolutely dripping with atmosphere. Krat is a beautiful environment to explore, despite its horrific condition. While it's clear that this new "Soulsborne-like" entry is taking several pages from Bloodborne, the game is able to differentiate itself more often than not across the board. Instead of relying on the werewolves, Eldritch horrors, and countless supernatural threats of Yharnam, Krat drops disjointed puppets along P's path and is able to show just how creepy these robots gone awry can be. From its boss fights to its more mundane regular enemies, each design works fantastically to set the stage and show just how terrifying this world's predicament is. Facing down former puppets dressed as butlers who have oil leaking from every orifice or giant mechanical monstrosities wandering a sewer is more than enough to make any player tread with caution.

(Photo: Neowiz Games & Round8 Studio)

Of course, like so many other Soulsborne games, Lies of P is a difficult endeavor wherein players will routinely face down a boss and need to learn their pattern to deliver a finishing blow. Luckily, players have more than enough upgrade options, weapon choices, "P Organs," and gameplay variety to surmount any challenge. At the start of the game, you are given the option of three standard weapons, but later, you are able to discover weapons that are blessed with elemental statuses while finding numerous materials to upgrade your arsenal. You are also able to mix and match handles and blades to accommodate your play style in the face of the robotic hordes to the tune of a hundred options, allowing you to craft the puppet of your choosing.  

The secret sauce of the FromSoftware games is rewarding your due diligence in learning an environment, learning more about your opponents' attacks, and preparing your play style and arsenal accordingly. Such is true with Lies of P as I never found myself facing down a threat that I knew I couldn't beat by taking a different approach and forming the proper strategy. You will die A LOT in this game, but those are deaths well-earned, and the reward for defeating a mechanical behemoth feels all the better for it. The game also allows you to add "Spectres" to your boss battles, a.k.a. unearthly figures that are able to lend you a hand if a boss is giving you too much trouble. 

Lies of P's map layouts and environments are some of the game's best highlights, weaving in progression organically to your journey. Whether it be through the discovery of a secret elevator, connecting pipes to create a makeshift bridge, and/or stumbling upon ladders to cut down on your path, it's an ingenious way to progress. Luckily the aesthetic of the game and taking in the sights means you'll be dying to explore the nooks and crannies that are a part of Krat, never feeling as though retreading an old path is a chore.

(Photo: Neowiz Games & Round8 Studio)

Unfortunately, you don't have the ability to customize your Pinocchio's full appearance, though you have a fair share of outfits and masks to choose from. Whereas you can create your own avatar in the Souls series, here, your puppet will have a standard appearance with a Timothee Chalamet-style. It's a minor quibble in the face of a masterpiece. 

The biggest weakness of Lies of P is also one of its biggest strengths in that it perhaps is too much like Bloodborne. If you had told me this was a sequel to the hunters' story of Yharnam, I would have believed you. The story of this Pinocchio feels like the spiritual successor of Bloodborne and claims the crown for the best Soulsborne-like game that I've played to date. If you're not a fan of FromSoftware's catalog of punishing entries, Lies of P is not the game you're looking for. Where Pinocchio's game perhaps differs the most is that the story is straightforward in its plot points, and while there are mysteries to solve, there isn't that same sense of ambiguity that you'll find in the likes of Dark Souls and Elden Ring, for example. 

In a year that is fit to bursting with Game of the Year contenders, Lies of P grabs you by the throat and demands that you place it on the list. This feels like the spiritual successor to Bloodborne, and if you had sold this as a sequel to the FromSoftware story, you could get away with it. If you're a fan of Soulsborne and want to add a spice of rewarding difficulty to your gaming career, you must check out Lies of P.

Score: 4.5/5

Lies of P will release on September 19th and will be available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. A PlayStation 5 digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.