Lies of P Review: A Harrowing Twist On A Childhood Classic

How does the mix of Pinocchio and soulslike play and feel? Our Lies of P review has all the details for you.

The tale of the artificial lad Pinocchio has had many retellings over the years, with most depictions largely retaining the whimsical core of the character. Lies of P puts a much different spin on the original story, putting the classic childhood icon into a grim and foreboding cityscape on the brink of complete ruin, with a deep mystery at its core waiting to be unraveled.

As is evident, Lies of P’s narrative does not allow for any character customization; you follow the story of P as he navigates through the treacherous city of Krat, with a few helping hands guiding him through his journey. Many of them are nods to the characters from the source material, adjusted to better fit the setting but remaining relatively familiar.

There’s your travel companion and occasional mood maker Gemini, based on Jiminy Cricket, the enigmatic blue-haired Sophia taking the role of the blue fairy, Geppetto the ingenious inventor and P’s creator, as well as many other eccentric, cunning, and endearing characters you will encounter throughout your journey in this beautifully wretched cityscape.

Indeed, the gothic setting of Krat is one worth marveling at. As you first open the doors to the city beyond and are greeted by the ruins of what once was a prosperous and bustling metropolis, the weight of the atmosphere and the looming sense of gloom that permeates through the air slowly sink in. Burning carriages and rubble, trails of blood, piles of mechanical and organic bodies intermingled and littered the alleyways and streets, monuments for the brutal struggle that ensues within the city. Admittedly, with how the loading screens function and some of the set pieces later on topped with the designs and character oozing from the game, I couldn’t help but also feel quite the Bioshock influence in Lies of P as well, for all the right reasons.

The environmental storytelling is quite top-notch, and while numerous posters, item descriptions, and similar trinkets were quite elaborate in fleshing out some of Krat’s history, you have characters and conversations filling you in on the details piece by piece but still leaving quite some room for speculation as you progress through the world.

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Quite the warm welcome.

While the initial story concept of creations going rogue and turning on their creators is by no means new, Lies of P does well enough to play around with the concept and flesh it out to give it some more interesting angles. Of course, as you progress (or pay attention early on), you realize how the root of this mystery goes far beyond some sort of mechanical error, with hints of what’s to come carefully strewn across even the earlier stages of the game should you pay attention, alluding to much more sinister forces at the heart of this crisis. The curve balls don’t end there, though, and it’s worth experiencing the story in its entirety for yourself. What’s more, in keeping with the original story’s themes, the game also emphasizes ‘Lying’ during crucial dialogue choices presented to you on your journey, which has quite an impact on NPC placements and the outcome of your story.

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An omen for things to come…

From a gameplay standpoint, returning players will immediately notice some familiar mechanics implemented from the likes of Bloodborne and Sekiro. Lies of P, while paying great homage to its inspirations, incorporates the best it could from each while maintaining its own aesthetic. The clunky dodge roll becoming a precise dash when locked on to enemies, the inclusion of backstabs which were absent in Bloodborne, the perfect guard mechanic from Sekiro, and a special grindstone embedded in your special ‘Legion Arm’, acting like bolt and fire paper etc.

Weapon durability is another aspect of the game that is a bit more noticeable this time around. While durability was a somewhat prominent aspect in the original Dark Souls with certain dragon weapons like the Moonlight Greatsword having its special ability quickly depleting its durability, the mechanic became almost a non-factor in future entries. Lies of P manages to bring weapon durability back into the spotlight in quite an intuitive way.

P’s Legion Arm prosthetic, among other things, comes equipped with a special grindstone that quickly replenishes a weapon’s sharpness, even in the heat of battle. You can move around with reduced speed and cancel the animation at any time, as many times as you want. Maintaining optimal sharpness is great as your weapon’s damage output proportionally scales with a higher sharpness, with some special skill slots even granting additional benefits if you maintain pristine sharpness on your weapon.

It does bear mentioning that Lies of P offers some nice quality-of-life changes to ease people into some of the harder mechanics and remove unnecessarily frustrating aspects from the typical formula. The hub area, Hotel Krat, houses a courtyard with a training dummy with which you can practice perfect guard timings and take different weapons for a test run. Moreover, a small counter tracks the amount of Ergo, the equivalent of Souls / Blood Echoes in this game, that you dropped upon death instead of keeping count yourself.

Moreover, the dropped Ergo is not completely lost upon a second death before reclaiming; Rather, a small percentage is deducted from the total Ergo, and the reduced amount can now be claimed at your most recent point of death. Also, when killed by a boss, the Ergo will spawn before the boss’s chamber for you to claim. All in all, decent changes help to alleviate the accumulation of unnecessary frustrations.

Regarding healing, your primary source will be the Pulse Cell, functioning much like an Estus Flask, while contraptions known as ‘Stargazers’ will act as your Bonfire. The Stargazer recovers your health and allows you to manage your inventory, assemble your weapons, and switch your Legion Arm. (More on these 2 further on). While Bloodborne’s ‘Rally’ mechanic was quite the experimental leap in the Souls series’ formula, which altered healing dynamics greatly and pushed for an aggressive playstyle, Lies of P incorporates it to a more limited extent, i.e., you gain temporarily reclaimable health if some damage goes through your blocking, or when you mistime a perfect guard. That said, another mechanic is also in place, adding a new twist to healing in combat.

While normally, if you run out of Estus in Darks Souls, you must hope you can avoid taking any damage for the rest of the encounter and scrape a win, Lies of P adds a system that rewards you for careful play at such a crucial point. While your Pulse Cell charges are completely drained, and you make a valiant last stand, a pink bar will slowly fill up the Pulse Cell icon for each hit you land. If you land enough while treading this thin line between life and death, you will receive one Pulse Cell charge for your careful offense.

Having been pushed to the brink in some encounters, the Pulse Cell regain helped me avoid what would otherwise have been a potential game over and a long trek back to where I was. I find it a nice addition that appropriately rewards precise play when forced into a high-stakes situation while not being heavily exploitable or encouraging an overly aggressive playstyle. If you managed to avoid death and get the required hits in, then hey, I say you deserve it.

The combat feel is quite solid, and the weapon impact feels crunchy. Bloodborne’s Trick Weapons were a milestone gameplay innovation, and while not carbon copy-pasted, Lies of P incorporates the same essence in a different way. Each weapon comes with a handle and the weapon itself, both of which grant access to different Fable Arts, special abilities that rely on using the Blue Fable Guage under your health bar. This gauge fills up the more you hit your opponents, and once filled, you can use it up to perform some devastating offensive maneuvers or buffs and other utilities for your character.

The true depth, however, comes from the weapon assembling mechanic, which, considering how saturated the Souls-like market has become, is honestly a praiseworthy implementation to distinguish the game from its contemporaries. As previously mentioned, weapons in Lies of P are essentially composed of 2 tools: The Blade and the Handle. With weapon assembling, you can take apart both components and mix and match them with any one of your choice. I, for one, really liked the Booster Great sword’s charge attack, which pushes you into an enemy to deliver a heavy strike. Having grown a bit too fondly attached to my Electric Coil Stick, I decided to just take the Booster Glaive Handle and stick it onto the Coil Stick Head, and voila, I now have an Electric Booster Coil Stick. Is it impractical? Probably. But that freedom to experiment is truly liberating.

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Mix and match to your heart’s content!

You also gain access to the Legion Arm, a new tool that adds an extra layer of depth to encounters. The abilities it provides shake up the nature of combat in many ways. You can shoot a wire that pulls enemies to you, something I made use of quite liberally for those annoying enemies on rooftops trying to snipe you off while you’re preoccupied with avoiding a Souls player’s greatest enemy: Gravity. Another one that I found quite enjoyable to use was the Deus Ex Machina arm, which lets you put down proximity mines, leading to some rather entertaining altercations. What’s more, you can upgrade these arms, and a set of additional abilities are unlocked, greatly improving the depth of each legion arm, and providing ample creative ways to tackle any challenge. It is apparent, though, that much like Bloodborne, build varieties aren’t as robust to the extent of other entries in the Souls series, so while you can get a little creative, the core of the gameplay loop doesn’t deviate too much. Still, the weapons and legion arms are a boatload of fun to use so they can easily tide you over for many long hours before feeling like you’ve seen it all as you carve a path through the variety of enemies across Krat.

I’ll let gravity handle the rest.

Speaking of enemies, the enemy variety in Lies of P is surprisingly creative, going far beyond the simple generic humanoids you’d expect from the early game. While you have the regular clunky mob puppets with heavy telegraphs and an unrefined fighting style, there is a blend of gracefully swift flesh-and-blood humans, beast-based mechanical opponents, and far stronger and sometimes creepier elite puppet mobs. Then, of course, we have the mobs of a more eldritch variety. The horrors that have taken root in Krat come in different flavors, and as someone who initially worried about how the enemy roster would pan out, I was glad to put those cautions to rest as it all just kept escalating spectacularly the further I progressed.

This is a game about puppets… right?

While I like to go for a sum-of-all-parts approach in judging a game’s value, the quality and quantity of bosses are crucial elements for many in judging the worth of a Soulslike and whether it is worth picking up or not. Having fond recollections of many excellent bosses and spectacles throughout the Souls games, from majestic and precise duels like Sword Saint Isshin from Sekiro to grotesque and intense bouts such as the Orphan of Kos, coming into Lies of P, I was curious how the quality of bosses would hold up. Suffice to say; it holds up exceptionally well.

Quality and Quantity are both delivered on, and boss designs and movesets are exceptionally well handled with a solid sense of difficulty progression as you delve deeper into the story. Initial mechanical bosses retain a sense of their robotic clunkiness, with slight sparks blazing from their joints as they wind up for a heavy slam attack or twist their body in unnatural ways before committing to an instantaneous motion. The further in you get, the more refined the puppets become in masking their mechanical tells, with an almost human feel to every one of their motions. The organic bosses, of course, come with their own set of tells and surprises, and you’ll find many creative liberties taken in bosses with multiple phases, some with completely different transformations than expected, which greatly alter the pace of the battle. Lies of P takes great care in its enemies’ visual fidelity and aesthetics, and some of the bosses in the later half especially pose quite a decent challenge when held to mainline Souls game standards.

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Boss encounters are varied and well-crafted.

Leveling up is a straightforward matter. You collect Ergo, a mysterious energy source that powers all puppets, to strengthen yourself in 6 different attributes: Vitality, Vigor, Capacity, Motivity, Technique and Advance. Vitality improves health, Vigor primarily improves your stamina, and Capacity impacts weight limits. Motivity and Technique double as the Strength and Dexterity attributes here while Advance is geared towards elemental damage as well as Legion Arm damage.

However, there is a separate level up mechanic of sorts that has quite a noticeable impact. The P-organ upgrade tree is where you use the special material you obtain from bosses to bolster P’s capabilities, ranging from additional offensive maneuvers abilities to things like extra Pulse Cells and whatnot.

The level design is quite polished and intricate, with each turn interconnected extensively. The depth in fleshing out the various maps within the city makes it all feel quite practical and believably lived. Multiple Locked doors and gates are littered across the area, allowing you to open shortcuts to latter portions of the map for easier run-ins to boss encounters or other places of interest. Couple that with the variations in the areas you visit, from drab and dreary city to sweltering industrial factory and greenery-abundant remote village, etc., the game does well in making sure it doesn’t get too repetitive with its backgrounds, though the relatively linear progression between areas may become noticeable as there is a lack of expansive hidden areas to uncover as far as I could gather.

The Musical score is quite charming as well. Typical of Souls games, the general areas only have the sounds of the surrounding environment and shambling enemies, though some areas like Hotel Krat and St. Frangelico Cathedral Chapel have somber melodies to paint a specific mood. That said, the boss themes have quite the heart put in them, many holding a grandiose and blood pumping tune which matched the intensity of the encounter.

But apart from that, Lies of P also includes a gramophone in the hub area, and you can collect records throughout your journey to play in the halls of Hotel Krat, keeping it as background music that continues even as you move around. While I have slacked in finding more of these melodies, listening to ‘Feel’ once has given me a newfound drive to search for the rest because the song certainly lives up to the name.

A fleeting solace in a growing nightmare…

Having played the Souls games quite extensively, the rise of the Soulslike sub-genre gave way to many developers who aimed to recreate FromSoftware’s successful formula. While many duds have failed to hit the mark or over-delivered on one aspect and neglected others, I can confidently say that this Soulslike is a definite hit from what I played of Lies of P. It is a beautiful love letter to the essence of what makes Souls games special, juggling worldbuilding with engaging combat and enemy design, with quite an engaging narrative that helps it find its own identity.

I personally didn’t encounter any bugs or frame drops in my playthrough, with the game running quite well on my Laptop (ROG Zephyrus M15 GU502). The control scheme for both keyboard and controller was equally effective and interchangeable, and all in all, any gripes I may have with the game are ultimately minor nitpicks that don’t detract from all the things it does right.

A lack of Multiplayer and invasions is a relatively linear progression with not too many expansive separate hidden areas, which I’m willing to overlook as the experience is decently lengthy and engaging from beginning to end. I will admit, pure Motivity builds seem to have an easier time than Technique-heavy builds owing to how effective blocking is with the former, and there was the odd case in the early game of enemy bodies sometimes disintegrating and despawning before my eyes while others remained, but all in all, the nitpicks are few and far between, and it’s a fun experience no matter what style you aim to go for.

The game is an easy 9/10 in my book, and I would recommend it to any fans of the parent series looking for their Souls-like fix in the market currently with a beautiful story that’s sure to find its place in your heart.

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Ali is a passionate RPG gamer. He believes that western RPGs still have a lot to learn from JRPGs. He is editor-in-chief at but that doesn't stop him from writing about his favorite video ...