They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Since it was first announced in 2021, Lies of P by Round8 Studios has been compared alongside industry-adored favourites, Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Many were quick to judge and call it a ‘clone’ a shamelessly direct imitation of FromSoftware’s greatest hits.
So where does Lies of P fit in the soulslike genre? Does it stack up against its contemporaries or is it longed to be forgotten among the bonfire of failed & imitated soul’s games?
Taking place in the city of Krat, Lies of P tells a twisted and unique retelling on the story of Carlo Collodis book, The Adventures of Pinocchio. Yes, legit Pinocchio, like the popular and influential Disney cartoon Pinocchio. But in this version, the screen is drained of its colour and childlike innocence. It is instead replaced with a dark, bloody, dystopian city of the future, where puppets and humans once lived harmoniously. However, due to a cataclysmic event, the puppets have now lost control and have decided the best thing to do in their moment of self-awareness, is to violently destroy their human friends.
So, it’s up to you, Pinocchio, the puppet who would be a ‘real boy’ to put an end to this chaos. Preferably, by cutting, smashing, bludgeoning, burning, and blowing every murderous puppet and creature in your way. While also trying hard not to die regularly. Just to forewarn, you will die many times.
With your best friend Gemini by your side (he’s sadly not a little grasshopper with a hat), your journey takes you through many different locales. From blood drenched cobbled streets, hotels lined with death and destruction as its decor, factories full of fire hazards, and everyone’s favourite soulsike level, a poisonous swamp that cuts through your health so quickly you better be nimble on your feet.
I can’t begin to explain this to you in any simple terms. Lies of P is as close to feeling and being a dark soul’s game, both in imagery, direction, and gameplay mechanics. It is almost criminal how similar and how close those lines of influence are blurred. I was surprised how often I encountered this, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For every enemy you defeat you are given ergo which acts like the souls you gather in Dark Souls. Ergo is also the main currency used in Krat. Remember bonfires in Dark Souls? There is this version named Stargazer, a contraption that acts like a bonfire which resets the world with enemies as well as filling your health charges. Health charges act like your estus flasks, however on the last empty charge, strikes to enemies fill your empty charge allowing you to gain back an additional health charge. This simple mechanic serves like a holy grail, that one more chance enticing you to press on forward to the next checkpoint slowly unravelling its story.
While the levels are all quite simple and extremely linear, all paths usually lead back to your base of operations at Hotel Krat. Filled with unique characters, the hotel entertains guests who add greater context to the lore, story, and overall world-building. Unlike our souls’ counterparts, the characters here are often extremely open and their stories are to the point which I found refreshing, as souls games can be too vague. The characters here also serve a greater purpose to ensure you’re ready to take on the next area, allowing access to upgrades, items and quests. From beginning to end the similarities of Dark Souls and Lies of P, made the game feel quite comfortable and very familiar.
That may sound odd to say that this game was comfortable, but I found Lies of P to be considerably forgiving due to the slight differences it takes. At your disposal is the usual stats and upgrades that you can level up, additionally there are many unique weapons to collect that each come with their own special moves. These weapons can be mixed and matched to suit your unique playstyle. A weapon handle can be fitted onto a new blade and thus this new weapon changes your stance and fighting technique.
The usual suspects of soul’s techniques are all here. The old trusty agile roll, defensive blocks and timed parry mechanics that can stun-break enemies allowing you access to critical hits. There is also a Sekiro-inspired arm that can be fitted with Legion arms. These are a set of unique arms that can be defensive such as an exploding shield or they can be offensive, such as rocket launcher. It all depends on the strategy you want to take. All of this, coupled with a robust skill tree and I felt like we have the right ingredients to give advantages when taking on the many enemies and epic bosses of this beautifully crafted world.
A world which looks amazing and runs smoothly, playing it on the highest setting via Gamepass on PC, I never encountered any issues with framerates or graphical bugs. Sticking to 60 fps made the game pop at every turn even during chaotic times, and trust me, there will be many of those moments. Beautiful vistas and set pieces were dramatically directed, many moments spent with the controller on my lap, sitting back geeking out at the awesome art direction and world they created.
Complimenting these strong visuals is a fantastic soundtrack, which includes many vocal tracks in English and French. Tracks which you can collect for your jukebox as part of a side quest. These tracks further emphasise an already established atmosphere feeding into the thick developing madness that is Krat.
The game does bring a lot of challenge, it isn’t easy, but it isn’t too overly difficult. The gameplay loop and mechanics are quite clear and simple. Explore area, upgrade character, beat the boss. Rinse repeat. You are allowed enough time to invest and diversify Pinocchio and seek side quests that reward you with items to upgrade your character. I will add that Round8 Studio released a patch when I was 3/4 into my playthrough, the updates nerfed many bosses and balanced the game out for ease and accessibility. I didn’t really notice it, everything always felt fair.
LIES OF P REVIEW
If you had told me that one of my favourite games this year would be a videogame about a souslike Pinocchio, I would’ve told you that you would be dreaming. Lies of P scratches the itch that is a Dark Souls experience that’s as close as you will ever get to the original. The story draws you in as familiar characters come back to life in a gothic inspired world, but it’s the fantastic soulslike gameplay that made me come back for more. Just one more turn, one more checkpoint.
Beautiful world to explore and exist in
Simple, clear and effective story
Controls are perfect
Random and unexpected difficulty spikes. Can be far too easy sometimes.
Linear levels, not enough chances to explore this great world