We’ve all seen Disney’s take on Carlo Collodi’s classic children’s novel about a wooden puppet that eventually became a real-life boy. Well, I’m sure we’ve never imagined we’d get a game based on that story, and one that turned out to be one of the better Soulslike games I’ve ever played. Yet, that’s exactly what we got with Round8 Studio’s Lies of P, and damn, I can’t get enough of this game.
Game Name: Lies of P Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X|S Publisher(s): Neowiz Developer(s): Round8 Studio Release Date: September 19th, 2023 Game Length: 30-35 hours for main quest, more if you like finding stuff
Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s classical fairy tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Lies of P in Soulslike game by Neowiz and Round8 Studio. Players take on the role of a marionette called “P” in the wake of an unexplained lethal puppet uprising that has laid waste to the Belle Epoque era-inspired city of Krat. To figure out the nature of this uprising and the actual cause behind the automaton’s revolt and various other mysteries, players will take control of P, customize him as they deem fit, do combat to progress the story, and ultimately, put to bed what caused all of Krat’s issue.
Fans of Soulslike games such as Dark Souls, Elden Ring, and Bloodborne will feel at home with Lies of P. The game plays like your typical Soulslike, with the usual hallmarks: slow combat, dodging, a stamina meter, health items, RPG mechanics, and a not-so-forgivable save and respawn system. As players progress through the game, they’ll also earn ergo, which can be used to level up their character and purchase usual items. You can upgrade various attributes, including health, stamina, capacity, equipment load, and more when leveling up. In addition, these attributes will also influence weapon usage: Motivity, Technique, and Advance. Each weapon will revolve around these stats, and similar to Dark Souls, Elden Ring, and Bloodborne, the better points you put into one stat, the better your proficiency with weapons will become.
In addition, there’s also a skill tree that can only be upgraded when a specific item called “Quartz” is found. Then, you can select a perk and slot the quartz into the provided bonuses. It gets a bit confusing at first, as it isn’t explained how it works, and you’re just left to figure it out. It also hurts players since once you slot a quartz, that’s it. You can’t remove it, and if you decide this wasn’t how you wanted to proceed, you can’t revert the change. Also, since it isn’t tied with progression and you can miss out on finding quartz during your journey, you’ll miss perks you could have otherwise had.
While you don’t have access to any magic, you do have access to what’s called Fable Arts. These allow players to unleash special abilities during combat. However, you will need to attack to fill up the Fable Arts meter, which allows you to use the Fable Arts. It’s an interesting system and does become a pain at times. Because it’s inconsistent, Fable Arts requires different amounts to use while filling the meter depending on your weapons, as they can earn different amounts. So, in the end, you are at the mercy of your weapons to fill up the Fable Arts meter to use them, and at times, it became more of a pain to use than it was worth. I found myself using items instead, as they were easier to use. I feel this could use some tweaking to make it more reasonable.
What Lies of P brings to the table
Every time I play a Soulslike, it’s always interesting to see what new ideas the developer brings to the table in an attempt to stand out. With Lies of P, Round8 Studio must have taken a course in “How to emulate FROMSOFTWARE” because this game is brimming with amazing ideas that are unique to the game, as well as some that have been borrowed and refined. I promise I will try not to sound like I’m geeking out over this game, but we’ll see how that goes.
Taking it from the top, yes, the game does feature weapon durability. Yes, I can already hear you growing over that. However, unlike other games where you need to bust out an item to repair your weapon, you can do it on the fly thanks to the ability to sharpen your weapon, which recovers durability. You need to select your grinder, and you can make your weapon brand new. On top of that, you’ll eventually be able to endow your grinder with the ability to give you weapon buffs. It’s a unique spin, and I like how this was pulled off. It almost negates the idea of weapon durability. One last point regarding that, if you should let your weapon break, you won’t be able to sharpen it and will need to use an idea to repair it. To this, you need to keep an eye on the durability meter, but thankfully it has a visual cue that you can’t miss, that lets you know things are about to go bad. The last thing you want is to have your weapon break during a boss fight.
Then there’s the prosthetic left arm, called Legion Arms, which we’ve seen done before in Sekiro, but Round8 Studio takes this approach further. At the start of the game, you can use an extra ability to punch the heck out of enemies. However, as you progress through the game, you’ll be able to decide from various other abilities, such as a flame thrower, artillery shells, lighting cannons, a shield, and more. Once you’ve done that, and assuming you’ve found the items, you can upgrade those abilities even further. And speaking from experience, you’ll want to get the shield as soon as possible. I won’t say why, but trust me on that.
Perhaps the coolest thing is the ability to take different weapons and mix and match them to make different and possibly stronger (or weaker) weapons. Weapons in the game are defined by their blade and handle, and by trying out different combinations, you’ll change weapon ranges, speeds, and strength. The only omission is that this doesn’t apply to special weapons. I’ve made some rather interesting builds, though I wish the weapon customization went further.
There are also key moments in the game where you’ll have to answer questions or do something, and those are pivotal in deciding how your game’s narrative will play out and which characters you’ll encounter on your journey. As I understand, there are three different endings, and I’ll be going back to try and figure out how to access the other two.
There’s also a ton of stuff to find, so if you’re a completionist, you’re going to be in heaven. I haven’t even scratched the surface of finding stuff, but now that this review is finally done, I can go back and spend hours trying to unlock all of the secrets in this game.
Parry, block, or dodge, it’s all in the mind
It would seem that more and more Soulslikes are adapting a parry system so that players don’t need to block, and it makes the game more aggressive, Lies of P included. However, I felt that this was a catch-22, depending on the situation. Sure, you can still block, but there are no shields, and there’s nothing in the game that can block 100% of damage. So, you’ll want to dodge and parry more than you block, especially early on. That’s not to say you can’t block, and it’s still a viable option, but the developer wants you to parry, parry, and parry. Just like blocking, except you wait until the last possible moment to pull off a parry… no, excuse me, a perfect guard, and if you succeed, you’ll hear a different sound, like a sharp sound.
Parrying is cool when you pull it off, and it has its rewards, such as puppets looking astounded when you parry them, or having their weapons break, only for them to look at their now-busted weapon. It also has its downside, and it’s problematic. You see, parrying is tied to the stamina system, and if you constantly parry, you run out of stamina, and that can put you in a bad spot. No stamina means you can’t dodge or attack. Failing to parry will result in you getting punched in the face, resulting in lost health. So you’ll need to learn when to parry, dodge, or use your weapon to block. On the latter, blocking isn’t a bad option, either. Unlike other Soulslikes, when you block, you don’t exactly lose health. Blocking will instead cause chip damage that can be recovered if you attack back. If you don’t, then your health will slowly drop to your actual damage. It’s an incentive to be more aggressive, but you still need to decide if it’s worth it or not.
Now for the bad news, parrying still feels off. Sure, it feels better than what was in the demo, but if I compared it to Sekrio, the parry window is still smaller than I’d like for it to be. Maybe it’s because I’m playing on a review build, or maybe Round8 Studio will need to revisit this yet again. Maybe check that dodging as well while they’re at it.
I’m shocked at the PC performance
I’ve clocked around 35-plus hours on the PC, and the performance has been amazing. I haven’t experienced any shuttering, no pop-in, nothing that we’ve seen from other AAA games on the PC for the past few months. The Lies of P PC performance blows away the performance of other PC games I’ve played in 2023. I’ve played Lies of P on a PC that was completely overkill, a Ryzen 7 7700x + Nvidia RTX 4090, and on a mid-ranged PC with a Ryzen 5 3600x + Nvidia RTX 3060 PC. On both machines, I was able to play at 4K60fps and 1440p60fps, and it was smooth. Not to mention that despite this being an “AMD partnered” title, it still managed to include Nvidia’s DLSS. Imagine that?
I even played it on the Asus ROG Ally, and it played better than the demo did, which was pretty damned good. Thanks to AMD’s FSR 2, the performance and visual quality were better than expected. Here are the numbers; Low settings 1080p 25watt Turbo with 50fps to 60fps / medium settings 1080p 25watt Turbo with 45fps to 55fps / best settings 1080p 30watt Turbo with 30fps to 45fps. Sadly, I didn’t give it a try on my Steam Deck, but I’d imagine the numbers would be similar since you can only run it at 720p.
You can tweak just about every setting in the game; key and button bindings, visual settings, it’s all there, including ultrawide screen support. Well, except for an FOV slider, not sure why that’s not there. Other than that, this is a perfect port, and I can’t be any more specific than that; it was an amazing experience to play a PC game that is so polished. I don’t know what sort of technical magic Round8 Studio and Round8 Studio pulled off, but they put some other developers to shame.
Multiplayer, no! There’s no multiplayer whatsoever. None. There are no plans either to add it, either. It’s just you and the CPU-controller idiot, who isn’t worth the effort at times.
Concerns and Frustrations
Alright, we’re at the part where I get to talk about all the stuff that rubbed me that wrong way, and despite my gushing over the game, there’s still plenty to be mad at. Mad as a mad hatter… get it? Ok, Dad Jokes. Moving on.
As you progress, you’ll notice that the game starts to really kick your ass, and that maybe hurt my ego. I’ve played just about every Soulslike out there, and I’ve beaten them with moderate issues. But Lies of P, it just feels that certain mobs and bosses are overtuned. It’s not a case of “Get Gud” either. For example, some mobs or bosses will spam the unblockable hit, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, sure, you can parry it, but what happens when they keep doing it while you can recover your stamina? Or better yet, when you successfully dodge it, and they change directions and still hit you? Other times the game punishes you for using a weapon you like because of the immense level of commitment required for each attack. A boss will get in multiple strikes, while you’re lucky to get in two if you’re lucky and get out without getting your head taken off.
On top of that, bosses also get a form of chip damage, but unlike yours, the longer they manage to keep you away from them, the chip damage will heal up over time. So, if they start spamming attacks you know you can’t take or can’t parry, you have to stay away, and they get to remove all the damage you did to them. It gets frustrating to see your hard work gone like that.
Sure, it’s challenging, but there were times I had to put the controller down and wake away. Others, I was screaming bloody murder throughout the night. I’d like for Round8 Studio to take a look a the encounters and adjust them accordingly. Outside of that, the character movement in battle is still a bit clunky, but better than the demo. But it still feels like it could be a bit more refined.
I’m also a bit saddened that there’s no multiplayer option. I couldn’t care less about PVP, and honestly, the game was designed for that. But I would love to summon someone into my game or vice versa. While you can summon a CPU-controller character, you have no control over what class they are, and most times, they die faster than anything else.
I simply couldn’t get enough of Lies of P, and as I’ve said already, it blows my mind that a company that has never worked on a Soulslike before has developed such an amazing title that feels like it came from the masters of the Soulslike genre (FROMSOFTWARE). Honestly, if you had someone play, say, Bloodborne and then had them play this, they’d likely ask if this was the follow-up. It’s simply that good, and there are so many similarities from that game, among other Soulsike titles. Outside of the overtuned mobs that are just as tough as some boss fights and the boss fights themselves, this game is challenging and a bit unfair at times. If you were looking for yet another Soulslike to sink your teeth into, definitely give Lies of P a try. As a Soulslike junkie myself, I can attest that you won’t be disappointed. That said, I’ve had people ask me if “Lies of P is hard?” and to that, I have to be honest. Yes, Lies of P is one of the harder Soulsike games I’ve played, but it’s not impossible. But if you play Soulslike games, you know exactly what I mean.
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Lies of P started off as being a game that wasn’t even on my radar until a few months ago, and ever since I played the demo, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s easily one of the best Soulslike games I’ve played that didn’t come from FROMSOFTWARE, and that’s saying something. From the visuals, the sound direction, the gameplay, and just about everything else, Lies of P is a fantastic Soulslike, with few flaws. That aside, I do wish that the parry system had a longer window and that the bosses were as punishing as they are. But that aside, this is a must-play.