Lies of P (2023) Game Review – One of the best Souls-like games

One of the best Souls-like games

Ever since Demon Souls and Dark Souls burst onto the gaming scene, FromSoft and other studios have been clambering to grab that proverbial gold dust that made those games so special. There have been many over the years, some that have revolutionized the genre (like Elden Ring) and others that have taken an aesthetically unique but largely indifferent step into familiar waters (Wo Long). Lies of P then is somewhat of an enigma in that respect.

On the surface, Lies of P looks like just another Souls-like wannabe. It has all the hallmarks of the genre; tough boss fights, intriguing level design, incremental stat increases and plenty of weapons to satisfy different player needs.

However, where Lies of P excels in the way it adds its own unique charm and spin on the genre. The story here plays on that of Pinocchio. All the hallmarks of that tale are here to see. The blue fairy is an integral part of the tale. You have the cunning red fox and strange animal-like creatures (coming in the form of mask-wearing assassins) and the entire game is coated with a steampunk-esque puppet aesthetic. The ensuing result is something that feels both refreshing and exciting.

Your playable character is a young puppet named P (basically Pinocchio.) Your task is to find Geppetto and from there, your mission branches out to include elements of the traditional story, but with a unique, modern spin to it. There’s no giant whale here to fight, unfortunately, but there are familiar locales that do feel like they’ve been ripped from the original tale.

These locales are cleverly designed too and across the 11 chapters, each feel like they play into the same sort of design found in Demon’s Souls. Each level is self-contained, but there are branching paths and even shortcuts that link back up to earlier areas. These usually pave way for a whole bunch of doors that can be unlocked and linked to your Stargazers, which serve as this game’s versions of bonfires.

The levels feature a myriad of different enemies, ranging from simple puppets to strange infected goons and even exploding dogs. The game continues to throw surprises your way, although it would be remiss not to mention the final chapter, which goes a bit overboard with its constant high HP mobs all the way to the final boss. It’s not a deal breaker, but this is something that leans heavily into your stats, which are a little skewed and broken as it stands.

All of these Souls-like games have stats that are predominantly the most important to level up and take advantage of. In the case of Lies of P, that stems from stamina and capacity. The latter is incredibly important because a lot of the bosses rely on pin-point dodges followed up by strikes to down them – both of which using precious stamina. You can parry on occasion but given the gigantic size for some of these foes, and the Fury Attacks these come armed with, both of these stats end up fundamentally essential to progressing through the game.

The boss fights are, on the whole, very good but there’s a tendency to overdo the “shock factor” when it comes to Two Phase boss fights. One very early on inside a beautifully designed house (no spoilers here) caught us completely off-guard and was so well done. But then late on, during the final chapter, there’s another two-phase fight that doesn’t really warrant it. By then, it’s a bit overkill which is a shame.

As for general attacking and the flow of battle, most of the enemy encounters work surprisingly well. The game expects you to learn when to parry, when to dodge and when to just dash out the way of attacks, and there’s enough variation with the different enemies to warrant repeat plays.

The UI and other elements of the game are all pretty standard fare for this genre, although the game does throw a slightly different spanner in the works when it comes to this. Instead of levelling up at the Stargazers, after the first level, you need to teleport back to your “hub”, Hotel Krat. Here, you can level up weapons, switch out your gear, spend Ergo at the shop. Oh, and level up your character too.

Ergo is earned through killing monsters and picking up shards and fragments throughout the game. This is a pretty simple system to get the hang of, but there are also Quartz to collect, which work as level-up items to allow you to enhance your character.

At Hotel Krat, you can sit in a machine which allows you to upgrade your “P-Organ” wit a number of different stat enhancements in battle. These are further divided into attack, defence, skills, survival and items. You could easily create a character that does more damage right after using your Pulse Cells (HP recovery) or you could put points into adding more Pulse Cells to your repertoire.

On top of this, the game also introduces you to a mechanic called the Legion Arm. This is essentially the Souls-version of BioShock powers, and you can switch out your arm and upgrade it with various different abilities. Flamberge is one that allows you to constantly hit a stream of fire in the hopes of inflicting burn damage. Meanwhile, Fulminis will burst out a ripple of electric power. There’s also one that serves as an extra guard against enemy attacks, and even a straightforward Puppet String, which will grab enemies and bring them in to your location.

Mixing and matching what works for you here, alongside the weapons you collect along the way, is partly what makes the game so appealing.┬áThese weapons all handle slightly differently too, and on top of the standard items, there’s a treasure hunter called Alidoro, who will trade special Ergo chunks (gained through killing the tough bosses) for special weapons or amulets.

Before discussing these amulets, weapon customization isn’t just reserved to switching out different styles of two handed or one handed blades. Instead, there’s the option to customize them, and even upgrade the handle or blade with Moonstones and other goodies. There is a staggering amount of choice here and that plays beautifully into the stat-buffs in the game – Amulets.

On top of general equipment upgrades (think armour but instead mechanical puppet pieces that can be switched out to increase your defence and resistance) there’s also amulets. Although only two can be equipped, one of the Quartz upgrades allows you to enhance this to 3 and even 4 slots. These amulets range from doing extra damage to puppets, increasing your maximum HP and improving your stamina recovery, to name a few.

There’s an awful lot to digest here and given the 3 different endings this game boasts, not to mention the New Game+ mode, you may find yourself playing through this again to try out a different weapon or playstyle.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and when it comes to Lies of P, this game pays homage to Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls beautifully. It’s not going to win any contests for originality, but the original content here is certainly worth of remembrance. The puppet aesthetic is excellent, the story engaging, and the sheer amount of customization, alongside some memorable boss fights, makes this one of the best Souls-like games outside FromSoft’s catalogue.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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