Lies Of P Review - More A Real Boy Than A Puppet Of The Genre
Disney lied to us. This is a surprise to me as much as anyone, but here we are. It reminds me a little of Thursday Next, where the image of Harry Potter changes to Daniel Radcliffe after the movies came out, in comparison to how he was depicted in the books. Pinocchio is the same, where he’s seen as mischievous and sweet in the Disney movies, but in the books originally, well, it’s a different story all round.
Lies of P leans into the original book, albeit with some twists. In Krat, things have gone south pretty quickly. It feels like the end of a Belle Epoque era. Puppets are the guiding force behind all menial and dangerous labour. They’re the police, maids, guards. Anything people don’t want to do in an almost warning tale against robotics and AI in the current era. As so often happens when one rebels against the natural order, people have been afflicted with the Petrification Disease, Puppets, likewise, are affected by the Puppet Frenzy, something that breaks the Grand Covenant; rules that are hardwired into puppets in an Asimov inspired way to stop them from harming humans.
You play as P, a puppet made by Gepetto who is listed as ‘special’. You’re seemingly unaffected by the frenzy and so when you’re awakened from your slumber you’re off to find Gepetto like a good boy. Unfortunately, many monsters, puppets and people want to stop you in their bloodlust, so you’re going to need to smack the heck out of them.
I always worry about soulslike games. Expectations are juxtaposed between wanting more of that classic Souls feel, but also changing it up enough to feel unique. I think Lies of P stands well amongst the giants here. Combat is tight, weapons are mixed and enemies are good. Dodging works, but blocking and parrying is better as it’ll build up a stagger metre, and when it tops out and you deliver a nice heavy hit to the enemy, you’ll be able to give them a juicy staggered hit and take quite a bit of their health bar. Blocking and not perfectly parrying will give you temporary damage, where a hit on you will confirm the damage, but if you’re aggressive you can earn that health back. So you’ve got options, dodge, block and fight it back, or learn to parry.
Funny thing about good soulslikes is just how fair they feel. Lies of P is the same. Enemy attacks are telegraphed just right as to punish you for not watching but not feel unfair when you take that hit. Instead, you learn enemy attacks and their counters. The game is constantly teaching you, reminding you to take your time and not be stupid. It’s also pretty generou;s with respawning buffs like your grinding stone effects, so you can play around with enemy weaknesses until you find what works for you too. If the bosses are too hard, you also get plenty of items to summon a NPC partner. Their effectiveness varies from boss to boss, but they are there.
Environments are beautiful too. I’m a sucker for a map that loops around on itself, and that’s exactly what happens here. Almost all roads lead to the Hotel Krat, your hub and safe haven. Thankfully, the NPC stories are also very fun so returning to the hub with regularity never feels too much like a chore. Levelling up can only be done at the hub which is a pain, but other than that there’s still opportunity to upgrade stores, upgrade weapons and check in on various characters before moving to a new area.
The most unique system is the weapon assembly system. Normal weapons are broken down into two components; a handle and a blade. Switching out the blade gives more reach, different elemental effects or more slash or stab effectiveness. Switching out a handle changes the weapons moveset so there’s a lot of variety here. It can be customised even further with weapon cranks, allowing you to further increase or alter the stat scaling of weapons. You’ll probably still rely upon your old faithful weapons, likely one or two but the options are really nice to have.
You’ll need these options too. Bosses are mostly tough as molasses. Boss difficulty scaling can be a bit weird but most bosses will be happy to ruin your day. Normal enemies aren’t much easier either, where enemies who dish out special damage effects like break will be huge issues, as some of these can be instantly fatal. The ones that aren’t fatal instantly will whittle you down over time too, so I found myself all too often hunting for the next stargazer, the game’s save point.
Lies of P is an incredibly interesting game. Its linear path does it no service I think, nor does a lack of multiplayer. Once you’ve played through the game once, the second run is mostly a mop up of minor missed content with maybe a new weapon style. Nothing too wrong with that, I just would’ve loved to have seen more replayability in some way, shape, or form. Still, what’s there is a hell of an experience. Despite what I said, I did dive right back in after I finished the game, to try out a new style, from strength-based to elemental-based.
Lies Of P was reviewed on PC with a code kindly provided by ICO Partners