Krat is a scary place, y’all. If the haunting scenery of a destroyed Belle Époque-era ravaged city isn’t enough, this place is currently in the middle of a robot rebellion while also dealing with a plague that’s turning humans into mindless mutants, ultimately petrifying them if they aren’t killed by the very puppets that were engineered to help them. It’s frightening, it’s super tense, and yet this Brothers Grimm style take on Pinocchio is also similarly enchanting and captivating. Being that Niche Gamer is run by an Italian-American, it’s no secret that Lies of P has affectionally been dubbed “Guido Souls” around these parts, so come find out if Lies of P delivers or if it’s just another tall tale.
Lies of P
Developer: NEOWIZ/Round 8 Studios
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 19, 2023
Price: $59.99 USD
Geppetto’s puppet finds himself at a strange crossroads at the beginning of this game. His master is nowhere to be found and he awakens inside of a train being guided by a weird voice in his head (and later given his instructions by Gemini, a disembodied broadcast that ends transmissions with a cricket chirp) that guides him to the Hotel Krat.
There he meets the voice, the blue fairy herself, Sophia. Sophia serves as this game’s Firelink keeper, as she’ll give you info but also lets you trade Ergo to improve your stats. Undoubtedly, the story is sinister as you progress and find out that the puppets are revolting due to instruction from an automaton known as the King of Puppets.
Lies of P makes absolutely no bones about what inspired it – there’s even a well you drop down that’s almost straight out of Dark Souls II – and it proudly wears those inspirations on its sleeve. While Lies of P doesn’t have a native magic system, P has a mechanical left arm that you can utilize as a tool (Just like Wolf in Sekiro) in order to change up your play styles.
This tool is called the Legion arm, and there are multiple tools you can unlock along the way. The first one you receive gives you a harpoon on a string that you can use to pull enemies to you, while later on you get arms that will allow you to send out an electrical burst, shoot flames, or even shield yourself from enemy attacks since there aren’t any equip-able shields available otherwise. I mainly used the grenade launcher one for a little bit of extra ranged damage, but because I didn’t spec heavily into the stat that improves your damage, the tools were mostly an added bonus than a required part of my repertoire.
When not using the Legion arm, you can also get consumables but they’re very few and far between, and they’re fairly expensive to purchase once you get the ability to do so which also makes them a bit of an afterthought. I almost always held mine instead of using them simply because I was worried I might need them later and by the time I did, I had already learned how to best enemies by learning their attack patterns and improving my dodge ability through P-Organ upgrades.
Speaking of the P-Organ, P’s heart allows you to choose upgrades from a choice of four different options which must be unlocked by slotting Quartz into the upgrade in order to unlock it. This is an interesting system as well because you choose a passive buff for each Quartz you slot. There’s offense/defense/elemental/utility choices, and you can only slot one choice per tier of upgrade.
I really had to carefully choose which perks I took as the sheer amount of options made me afraid that if I wasn’t careful I would break my build. I’m sure someone will find an absolutely broken build that trivializes this game, but for me, I enjoyed the severity and the weight of the impact of each decision as I progressed since Quartz is very sporadically placed – often behind secret areas or difficult corridors filled with brutal enemies or minibosses.
Speaking of minibosses, you’ll find several areas where you just kind of stumble upon an optional miniboss that sometimes rewards you with a useful item or a solid amount of Ergo. Some of them are more worth it than others, while others are worth fighting just because they’re a fun challenge. Regular bosses are quite creative in this game, though they often have two full health bar phases which eliminates the surprise after you’ve seen it done a few times.
Bosses all either have a second phase or gain new attacks once you get them about halfway down – such as doing more elemental attacks or changing their attack strategy so that you have to fight them almost completely differently during the second half. This is a clever way to keep players guessing, though some of the attacks are a bit too randomized and feel slightly unfair. There’s one miniboss in particular that switches his unblockable attack between ranged and close and there’s no reliable way to tell which he’ll use unless you’re super far away from him.
There isn’t any online play in Lies of P, but the game will give you the option to summon a Specter who can help you during boss fights in exchange for Star Fragments, a currency that’s randomly dropped by enemies along the way. You’ll eventually meet the Priest (the Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous to look at by the way) and he’ll give you a cube that you can put gemstones in that allow you to buff the Specter or shamelessly use for yourself.
In one fight where I seemed to fair better without the use of the NPC summon, I opted for the cube to heal me, while in other fights I could buff the Specter with elemental attacks or cast a buff on him that would revive him once if he was killed. You can also add more slots to the cube using the P-Organ, and the gemstones are purchased from the Priest who wants gold coin fruits that are harvested from a tree that you’ll eventually stumble across.
Combat is super fun now that dodging and blocking have been tightened up from the demo, and you’ll need to utilize both perfect blocks and good dodge timing (though that can be made easier with upgrades in the P-Organ) in order to battle your way through this gothic animatronic nightmare. P also has access to a weapon system that allows you to mix and match your weapon to create new weapon types. You can take a big wrench and put it on a dagger handle if you want to, the system is unique and a lot of fun to play around with.
I’m a sucker for sticking with starter weapons, but I can’t deny that swinging around a fire axe or relentlessly assaulting attackers with a flaming dagger that also caused explosions on hit wasn’t a good time. You can also trade fallen boss Ergo items for either a unique weapon or a unique amulet that you can only get from these items so there’s a big appeal to play New Game+ so you can both items to play around with.
The combat is obviously the biggest selling point of any soulslike game, but Lies of P also manages to tell an interesting story that’s got some secrets to unravel, some twists, and you’ll actually want to go looking for the collectable documents in order to gain access to new gestures which will give you better interactions with certain NPC characters when you find them. On top of having an interesting story, Lies of P has a fantastic soundtrack.
I adore some of the songs that are played, such as Feel and whatever that song is that’s sang in French that plays during a certain fight in an Amphitheater (I haven’t found the record for that particular song just yet.) Records are scattered around Krat for you to listen to once you’re back at the Hotel and listening to a song in full gives P more points to his humanity.
Eventually you’ll see how attitudes change toward P based on how he responds to people – I opted for a human playthrough so I would lie whenever possible to save people from bad news or protect them from the truth, and eventually the cat that hangs out in the hotel stopped hissing at me when I tried to pet it. It’s a system that isn’t as deep as I’d like for it to be, but it’s unique enough to make this game one of the more memorable in the genre.
Lies of P is probably the best fleshed out non-FromSoftware soulslike I’ve played thus far. I kept comparing this game to Steelrising in my head as I played through it, and for my penny, that’s a considerably fairer comparison than say Elden Ring. While it’s right up there with The Surge and its sequel, it slightly edges out those and the rest of its competition by having a lot more of that Bloodborne aesthetic that gamers on non-PlayStation platforms have desperately been craving.
Players who aren’t into soulslike games will likely check this out on Gamepass and find themselves enamored with a whole new genre of games to explore. It’s tough but it’s rewarding and I’m happy to report that even with my middling feeling after playing the demo, Lies of P is one of the best games I’ve played all year.
Lies of P was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Neowiz. Additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy can be found here. Lies of P will be available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 4/5 on September 19th.