Lies of P Review – A Twisted Fairy Tale

Lie Hard Or Die Trying

You need not argue the value of the medium of video games when you see a game like Lies Of P manifesting. Who would ever have thought to combine games like Bloodborne with the tale of Pinnochio, of all things. And who would ever have thought that it worked. Since their success, it’s been easy to write off anything imitating a FromSoftware game as a cynical cash grab, but Lies of P is anything but. It defies all odds. It’s a surprisingly compelling action RPG that builds itself on the shoulders of giants while deftly carving out its own niche.

As you’d expect, the game opens with you stepping into the shoes of Pinnochio. You’re at a train station in the city of Krat, which has recently descended into chaos and madness. Humanoid puppets, previously slaves to the upper class, have turned on their masters, ending the city’s illustrious era of prosperity. You begin on a quest to find your maker, Geppetto, before trying to wrestle back control of the city from those who took it. And, of course, trying to recover your humanity so you can be a real boy again.

Lies of P Review - Krat

While it’s a bizarre premise, Lies of P does a great job of adapting the story of Pinnochio to this melancholic, grimdark world that the developers have crafted. This isn’t Pinnochio as you know it – loosely basing much of its story on the fantasy novel by Italian author Carlo Collody and not so much off of the Disney animated film most will know and love. It’s a left-field choice, but it’s a surprisingly fitting story given how bleak the subject matter is and an exceptional way to experience the novel’s plot. It’s through a warped lens but still charming in its own right.

Anybody who played Lies of P earlier this year would’ve noticed key similarities to FromSoftware’s celebrated action RPG Bloodborne. As such, you know what to expect. A Gothic-tinged semi-open world to explore with an ambiguous narrative and challenging but rewarding combat to overcome. But while the world of Krat is slightly less inviting to explore than other games of this ilk, it’s a world dripping with a dense and heady atmosphere.

Lies of P Review - Theatre Encounter

Combat is all about being aggressive and parrying wherever possible. Playing aggressively is the best way to get ahead here. When attacked or even after blocking an attack, you’ll lose health. But attacking your enemy shortly after allows you to regain that health. It’s devilishly simple – a risk-reward system boiled down to its purest – but also encourages players to be assertive in their approach. While this is a bit of a shameless imitation of Bloodborne, some little adjustments make Lies of P equal parts engaging and unique.

When you run out of healing items, landing hits on an enemy can eventually renew one (and only one) of them. It’s a slight adjustment that makes those seemingly unconquerable battles much more approachable without making things too easy or letting players play too defensively. Parrying is also incredibly important, though not necessary in Lies of P. For one, it obviously leaves your opponent open to attack. But it also allows you to destroy their weapons, severely limiting their reach or power. They’re minor but nice adjustments to an already potent combat system.

Lies of P Review - First Boss Battle

The combat system is supported by a flexible weapons system, too. Each weapon that Pinnochio finds comprises a blade and a handle, each with a unique special ability attached to it. Blade-based abilities tend to be more offensive, while handle-based ones can also offer buffs. Eventually, you can disassemble these weapons to create a combination of weaponry and skills that best suit your style. Even better, you can do this without penalty, so experimentation is possible if you want to try something out. The flexibility in this system offers a nice way for a struggling player to change their approach with little to no effort.

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On top of that, your build is further influenced by the P-Organ. While dubiously named, it’s just a skill tree with five different layers. It’s a linear path through the organ, though each node can be fitted with one of more than fifteen power-ups. This means that most players will have different paths through the organ, and there’s a lot of flexibility in building your Pinnochio as you get through the game. It offers great opportunities for players to complement the stat increases they’ve been buying normally.

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Lies of P Review - Equipment Menu

Of course, it would be remiss not to speak about the bosses and Lies of P delivers in droves. There’s a nice mix here of bigger-sized beasts to fell and much more challenging enemies to duel. Every boss provides a nice capstone to some already tough battles. And, even better, every death I endured was absolutely my fault. So many of these games often have dodgy hitboxes or shitty dodge mechanics or both. Lies of P has neither. Its fluid and responsive combat meshes beautifully with its intense, fearsome boss battles.

Beyond that, there are some side quests, too, with many of them incorporating the “Lie” mechanic that you’d expect from a game based on Pinnochio. While it feeds into some of the endings you can achieve with your choices, it feels like a shallow system. The side quests are, similarly, trying to be vague in the same vein as Bloodborne, but they’re so basic that it’s rarely much of a headscratcher to work them out. I appreciate that optional content is even here, but overall, it’s a relatively subdued offering.

Lies of P Review - Side Quest Giver

Thankfully, for some, Lies of P is one of the cruisier games that tries to imitate its FromSoftware brethren. While only marginally less challenging, the combat system having such a great sense of flow (and being so much more responsive) means you’ll have to think less about your strikes. For me, many of the bosses were beaten on their first try, too, so that might be encouraging for those looking to grab a game like this but not wanting to be completely decimated. It’s still disappointing that there are no difficulty options here for those who aren’t well-versed in action games, but given how modest Lies of P is in its challenge, I think it’s not as big of a sore spot.

And finally, from a small team, it’s phenomenal how good Lies of P looks. Not only is the game beautifully presented on a technical level, but also from a sense of artistic direction. The violent and dystopic world of Krat is very well realised. It’s somewhere I’d never want to live, but I’m keen to explore. There are multiple display options, too, but so many of them, even the high frame rate ones, were too unreliable for me. Perhaps these will be fixed with a patch, but I recommend playing on performance mode only for now. It’s a rock-solid sixty frames per second.

Lies of P Review - Krat Theatre

While Lies of P doesn’t put its best foot forward in terms of the variety of locales – especially with the environments in its opening hours – it only gets better with time. That’s really how I feel about Lies of P. It’s an excellent action game that takes a bit to get going. But once it does, it’s a joy to play. And I promise, my nose isn’t growing.

Conclusion
Lies of P takes a bit to get going but once it does it’s an absolute joy to play. While as challenging as you’d expect from a game channeling Bloodborne, its minor improvements help make the experience ever so slightly more accessible. More importantly, it manages to carve out its own niche and is one of the strongest adaptations of the formula that make games like Bloodborne so revered. And while some aspects of it’s source material don’t translate as well as you’d hope to a video game, Lies of P is a solid action game that’s well worth your time.
Positives
Strong Sense Of Atmosphere
Fast And Responsive Combat
Good Variety Of Bosses
Negatives
Repetitious Opening Areas
Lying Mechanic Feels A Tad Underutilised
8
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