Lies of P Review – Puppetborne

Bloodborne has long been considered to be one of the best games that FromSoftware has released. This is in large part thanks to Bloodborne’s unique setting, combat system, level design, story, and just about any other aspect you can think of. Since the game has been languishing as a PS4-exclusive—with the framerate issues that would entail—indie studios have taken on the mantle of trying to tap into what exactly made Bloodborne so great. Among the studios taking on the formula is Neowiz, with its similarly-themed game Lies of P.

Telling its own take on the story of Pinocchio, Lies of P puts players in the shoes of the lying puppet as he tries to make his way through the city of Krat, where things seem to have gone incredibly wrong when puppets started taking up weapons against regular people. The city of Krat is a labyrinthine place, and our budding protagonist must keep his wits about him if he hopes to survive.

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Alongside its general setting, the main star of Lies of P is its action gameplay. Inspired by a couple of different FromSoftware games—namely Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die TwiceLies of P focuses quite a bit on countering enemy attacks rather than opting for more defensive options like using shields in Dark Souls games. As you might expect, you get a light attack, a heavy attack, a block that also doubles as a parry if you can time it right, and the ability to use a Legion Arm. Much like weapons, Legion Arms can be changed, providing different kinds of utility. For example, an early Legion Arm lets you pull enemies close to you.

Legion Arms come in quite a bit of variety, and have the potential to radically change up how you play Lies of P. If you’re looking for defensive options that the game otherwise eschews, there’s a Legion Arm that will give you a limited-use shield. Another one lets you spew out some flames, while yet another Legion Arm allows you to deploy mines. There’s quite a bit of freedom of expression in what Legion Arm you decide to use, and experimentation is often encouraged, since this one choice can fundamentally alter your general play style.

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“Much like weapons, Legion Arms can be changed, providing different kinds of utility.”

When it comes to variety, weapons aren’t far behind. Much like in Souls-styled games, the choice of weapons largely comes down to what kind of move set you prefer, and what kind of build you’re going for. A player with more points in Motive might want to go for a heavier blade, while a dexterous player could instead opt for the thrust-centric weapon. Interestingly, weapons in Lies of P are split in two distinct parts: the Blade and the Handle. You can swap out handles and blades to get different benefits, from extra damage and different stat scaling, to a completely different special ability, called a Fable Art.

Each blade and handle has its own distinct Fable Art, with the blade having an offense-centric one, while the handle has a defensive one. Fable Arts can only be used after you’ve gathered up enough resources by taking part in combat, and can be unleashed to pull off a move that either does immense damage, or buffs up your block or dodges in some way. Fable Arts can also be buffed up for use in combat by leveling up its very own stat. Whether this means that builds that revolve entirely around Fable Arts are viable or not is yet to be seen, however.

Alongside weapons, Legion Arms and armor, the other major form of progression in Lies of P is the P-Organ system, which provides you with a skill tree that lets you further unlock new active and passive abilities. The variety in the different abilities offered by P-Organ is quite interesting, ranging from simple buffs like an option to get more Fable Slots and having your healing item be more effective, to entirely new moves, like the ability to recover quickly if you get knocked down in combat.

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“Interestingly, weapons in Lies of P are split in two distinct parts: the Blade and the Handle.”

Of course, good combat isn’t decided by just the player’s options and abilities; a game needs to have interesting enemies to fight as well, and Lies of P delivers interesting enemies by the truckloads. In terms of visual design, even the most basic puppet enemies you fight early in the game are quite a sight to behold. Not only do they look strangely scary, thanks to the healthy amounts of uncanny valley produced by their strange movement animations and their insistence on staring directly at you once they notice you, but they also act as an effective early enemy type thanks to their relatively simple attack patterns and low health.

The progression in the kinds of enemies you take on as you dive deeper and deeper into the depths of Krat is done quite well. Not only do enemies start having more health and dealing more damage, but you also start fighting enemies that can make use of different abilities that will require you to master all of your defensive options and Legion Arms, as well as different kinds of enemies that work together well to form effective tactics against your onslaught. Don’t be surprised to find a ranged enemy paired up with a couple of melee puppets and a dog early on in the game, for example.

Boss fights in Lies of P are also quite well done, and while the game never really has a boss as memorable as those found in Bloodborne or Sekiro, its boss fights are still a lot of fun to take on. Even the first boss you fight is a great way to kick things off, since you have to start learning its various attack patterns and combos, but you also have to make sure you preserve resources for when the boss inevitably hits its second phase, getting a host of new attacks that are faster and deadlier.

Lies of P is an incredibly good looking game as well, and the city of Krat is definitely a sight to behold. The only real disappointing thing about Krat as a setting is that it doesn’t manage to be quite as memorable as Bloodborne’s Yharnam, but that’s a relatively minor complaint since the game still manages to pull off what is essentially one of the best settings for a Souls-styled game that hasn’t been directly made by FromSoftware. The dilapidated alleys and well-lit rooftops of Krat offer a fantastic backdrop to the horrifying events in the game, and there’s plenty of lore in item descriptions and notes left around that let you truly understand what really happened in Krat.

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“The dilapidated alleys and well-lit rooftops of Krat offer a fantastic backdrop to the horrifying events in the game”

The weakest part of Lies of P is its story. While it kicks off with quite a bit of intrigue, especially in its depiction of the homicidal puppets all over the place, it takes quite a bit to actually kick in. The story suffers from a few pacing issues thanks in large part to its choice of genre, and the fact that the story is fairly limited in nature and scope before you’re able to meet Geppetto, which can take anywhere from an hour to over five hours, depending on how much trouble you have with the challenges offered in the game. Thankfully, the gameplay in Lies of P is able to pull more than enough of its own weight to make sure that the story’s otherwise slow pacing doesn’t feel like too much of a drag.

Lies of P is a fantastic addition to the Soulslike genre, with its own clever ideas about how weapons and special abilities work, and its wonderful setting. The game is absolutely gorgeous, even while playing on the Performance mode in the PS5 version’s graphical setting, and its enemy designs are some of the most inventive ones I’ve seen this side of Bloodborne. While it falters in telling its story, the gameplay alone was more than enough to ensure that any time I spent with Lies of P was an absolute joy.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.

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