Lies of P Review
If you’d have told me that one of my favourite games of 2023 would be a Soulslike based on Pinocchio, I’d have laughed and laughed. And yet here we are. Lies of P takes the formula perfected by From in Dark Souls and Elden Ring and makes an impressive job at replicating it. This is addictive, dark and fun.
It’s also difficult. Arguably it’s more difficult than some of the From games. But as always in this genre, there is nothing else that compares with the feeling of finally beating something that has been holding you up.
We’re used to a little jank in this genre. Lies of P, on the other hand, is pretty tight. It runs like a dream on PC. That’s an extra level of impressive when you think about all those Unreal games from bigger studios that have struggled.
It’s a shame then that a few minor problems do a bit to dirty the overall sheen. But, after seeing the first patch, it’s possible these will be fixed in the soon.
If you’ve plays a Souls game, you know what you’re getting into. You play as Geppetto’s Puppet. You will fight your way past a variety of deadly enemies through twisting mazes of levels. At the end, you’ll fight a giant evil boss that’ll likely as not take hours of your life and at least half of your happiness. But don’t worry, beating it will feel oh so worth it.
You have a basic attack, a charged attack, some throwables and a special “fable” move which goes above and beyond the regular attacks. You can also block and, more importantly, parry. While Demon Souls is a game about rolling, this is a game about parrying. The perfect parry – which when timed correctly lets you block all damage from an attack – is this game’s bread and butter. But it’s harder than it needs to be to achieve, and takes some getting used to.
You’ll get plenty of chances to practise. Lies of P has 11 chapters, exploring a gothic steampunk-ish world that’ll take you through train stations, entertainment districts and out into the depths of swamps. If Bioshock had a Souls game, it’d probably feel a little bit something like this. While the decent impression of a Souls game is impressive, it is the setting that really sings in Lies of P. It looks fantastic. Its art style is awesome.
But ultimately it does feel just like a Souls game. Actually, it’s probably a little tougher. If you’ve bounced off those before, there’s a good chance you’ll bounce off this. For those on PC and Xbox, Game Pass gives you a good reason to check it out.
The Difficulty Spike
So far, all of this sounds impeccable. And if I’m honest, it is a lot closer than I ever expected it to be.
But there are a few small problems that’ll either be ironed out with patches or in the sequel.
Each of the 11 chapters is over an hour in length, broken down by checkpoints called Stargazers. These allow you to recharge your health and healing items, and transport back and forth to place you’ve already visited.
Some of the levels are more meandering than others. Exploring can be deadly, with every enemy you come across posing a real threat.
And I mean real threat. Some of the mid-level bosses you’ll come across, as well as just some of the enemies you’ll find, can hold you up longer than the bosses themselves. And while the level layout usually means you don’t have too far to travel for those, it can be frustrating. Some of these enemies have already been nerfed, so balance changes are happening. But for now, expect a few spiky moments.
Balance, on the whole, is good. But even a few of the big bosses will cause you problems. There are definitely difficulty spikes, although your mileage may vary. The boss of chapter 3 will put hair on your chest. The boss of chapter 4 will tear is all off. And from there, plain sailing for a while. It’s hilarious to see people’s reaction as they make their way through the game.
Taking on the Big Bosses
Lies of P has a bunch of collectables including notes, records and weaponry. You level up your character as you explore, and can create unique builds around weapons, techniques and P-organs (or how you buff out your character). Completionists have a huge amount of content to get through – including multiple endings and a new game plus.
But while this is all good and well, these games are only as good as their bosses. There are a lot of memorable moments in this game. Lies of P boasts some incredible bosses which could stand toe-to-toe with some of From’s. That in itself is a huge compliment.
How you’ve decided to play will effect which bosses give you the most problem, but I found each one of them to be challenging, fun and satisfying to beat. There are also a host of mini-bosses and optional fights, some of which will be harder than the normal content. Usually if you lose, it’s because of you. That’s the beauty of these games. But there are a few times – especially in the last chapter – where the difficulty is pushed to its very limit. Only the very best will see everything. Maybe that’s how it ought to be, and it’s a tightrope walk for sure. Do you challenge your biggest fans, or do you make something that feels difficult but satisfying for those who just want to get to the end? It feels that at least one boss fight goes too far in the wrong direction on this.
Maybe that’s just down to my experience. Others will find it easier or harder.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, Lies of P is very impressive. A lot of it is down to the setting and vibe, but it feels fantastic. It’s not trying to be some open world epic with vistas off in the distance. You’ll get a lot of mood, some great looking locations and, best of all, it feels really well optimised on PC. You don’t need a 4090 (or beyond) to max this out at a decent framerate, which has felt like the norm lately. With that said, it looks great on consoles too, albeit at a lower FPS.
There’s a decent amount of dialogue in Lies of P. The voice work is great. Music, too, is noteworthy. There are hidden records you can unlock that are often very, very beautiful. And so many people will never hear them, which is a shame.
Like a lot of Souls game, much of the lore for Lies of P comes through notes. But there’s an actual story here, propelled by the voice performances. Like everything else in this game, it would have been easy to get wrong. And yet, in almost every way it succeeds.
Lies of P Review – Conclusion
I went into Lies of P expecting a weak clone. From makes Souls games. Everybody else usually pales in comparison. This may just be the exception to the rule.
Now, it’s definitely a clone. There’s no getting away from how heavily borrowed the format is. But at this point, it has become a genre unto itself. Nobody is saying the latest Metroidvania owes Nintendo or Capcom anything but kudos. This reproduction brings with it the good and the bad, and it’s unlikely to convert anybody who hated the genre before.
But for everybody else this is a real treat. I can’t imagine many expected it to be as good as it turned out to be. And thankfully, despite all this praise, my nose hasn’t grown even a single inch. So there you go – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.