The gothic design of Lies of P creates a dark setting for players to immerse themselves in while anticipating the challenging encounters that lie ahead. This presentation shares a few similarities with the FromSoftware-developed Bloodborne but takes a different path with its overall plot. The setting, a town named Krat, carries a distinct Belle Époque vibe that contrasts nicely with the tale of Pinocchio that most of us are familiar with from Disney’s reimagining. So, with the stage set, I played through an early demo of this soul-like, and all I can say is that this game is bloody hard.
The demo provides minimal bits of story, but it’s easy to grasp the grim tone through character interactions and the general atmosphere. Pinnochio is a puppet mechanoid who, after awakening, is tasked by the gentle Sophia to seek Hotel Krat. After doing so, he is given the objective of locating his apparent creator, Geppetto, who has gone missing after venturing out into the city. Nothing about these intentions is particularly engaging on their own, yet it’s the plight of Pinnochio himself that keeps things interesting.
After a bit of digging at the hotel, you’re informed of The Grand Covenant, a set of commands imprinted onto puppets when they’re crafted. The fourth and final one of these laws is simply that puppets cannot lie, which is what you had to do to enter the hotel in the first place. The demo doesn’t contain a deep-dive scenario that illustrates the potential of this mechanic.
Still, it has my attention, given that the purpose of Pinnochio’s lying acts as progress toward gradually becoming more human. There are plenty of morality-based dilemmas that only Pinnochio, who is the exception to the lying rule, can face, and the possibilities are fascinating. How quests are completed, and the conclusion of story scenes may play out differently depending on how you lie, so player individuality and replayability appear to be a factor of the experience.
When it comes to combat, Lies of P has some unique ideas despite the core of it playing like your standard FromSoftware-inspired adventure. For instance, there’s weapon assembling, letting you mix the handles and blades of your tools. This helps instill more freedom in combative encounters, as you’re able to pursue a build to your liking. This point is also reinforced by how at the start of the game, you can pick between three weapons representative of said builds: Balance, Dexterity, or Strength. I went with the middle option, humorously called the Path of the Bastard.
Another standout element is Pinnochio’s Legion Arm, a swappable resource that can add spice to battles with traits like elemental strikes. Plus, there’s the ever-familiar level-up system comprised of Ergo used at checkpoints to invest in stats. Lies of P definitely caters to an audience familiar with the Souls-like genre, though a couple of distinctive implementations keep progression engaging. That said, the boss battles are really damn hard.
While typical enemies will cause you problems during your first few encounters, my skills were heavily tested during the boss fights. The first one, in particular, can be a rude awakening as it can wreck you badly if you don’t understand evasion or guard timing. Although I’d like to see, the Perfect Guard feature improved. There’s strangely no audio cue for it that strongly differentiates it from standard guarding.
Even during its beginning hours, Lies of P’s identity is clear. It’s a tough-as-nails action souls-like that wears its inspirations on its sleeve yet isn’t afraid to take chances on a narrative and gameplay level, thanks to the inclusion of facets from the source material. If you’ve been interested in this ambitious outing, I highly recommend checking out the free demo available on Steam.
Lies of P is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Game Pass Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC in August 2023.
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