Lies of P is another adaptation of the Pinocchio fairytale, which we have been getting a lot of. While people have said Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio was a dark retelling of the classic story, Neowiz takes it beyond that. Lies of P hits all of the basic story beats: Geppetto makes a puppet Pinocchio, a blue fairy gives him life, and Pinocchio tries to become a real boy.
So what happens when you bring that beloved story into the horror genre and make it a Souls-like game? With its beautiful aesthetic and wonderful world-building, it’s become one of the most frustrating yet memorable experiences I have had with any game.
Lies of P Review: Souls for the Puppets
The story of Lies of P takes the foundation of the original fairytale and flips it on its head. Set in a Belle Epoque Era in Europe, Geppetto, a genius engineer and the father of puppets, led the city of Krat into a golden era by creating puppets to help the people. However, this utopia didn’t last long. The puppets began acting on their own, turning on the humans and nearly wiping out the entire population.
The game starts with Pinocchio waking up after hearing a voice from a blue butterfly telling him to find his father, Geppetto. We are then immediately introduced to the nightmare that is Krat City. The animatronic puppets patrol with the corpses of the humans littered all over. Eventually, Pinocchio makes his way to Hotel Krat, the last safe haven in the city, where we meet Sophia, the voice from the beginning.
However, only humans can enter. Puppets were created so that they can’t tell a lie. Pinocchio is unique, though, because he can lie. Throughout the game, you can either tell the truth or bend it, which will change the narrative as you get further in. However, the lying mechanic doesn’t come up as often as I would’ve wanted it to, so while interesting, it’s well-underused.
Hotel Krat acts as the central hub for Lies of P. As you progress, more people will come to reside in Hotel Krat, providing access new shops and resources. Inside, you can level up, buy and upgrade your gear, and unlock new abilities.
Even though the hotel is run down and surrounded by death and despair, it exudes a sense of calm and easiness. The city of Krat is dangerous and scary, and you constantly feel that as you fight through the abandoned streets.
The combat of Lies of P is that of a Souls-like. That means the difficulty level is high. At the beginning, you can choose between three paths or classes to play as. This is the most critical decision you’ll make since it can’t be changed later. The Path of the Cricket is the most balanced class. The Path of the Bastard focuses on dexterity and stamina. And The Path of the Sweeper is all about attack and HP. The class you choose will determine your combat style and what weapons you can best use.
As mentioned before, the combat is challenging, but hey, that’s what you signed up for when playing a Souls-like. As a big disclaimer, I don’t usually play Souls-likes, which could have contributed to my frustration and difficulty coming to grips with the combat. However, I’ve been told by colleagues that Lies of P is hard, even for veterans of the subgenre. Regardless of that barrier to entry, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game.
The basic enemies are easy enough to handle with a few basic attacks. Where the difficulty really starts is with the larger enemies and bosses. They have varying attack patterns that you have to learn. This means you will die multiple times before memorizing the timing of each attack. I sure did.
Early on, you’ll be introduced to the Fury mechanic. With regular attacks, you can dodge out of the way or guard the attacks to take slightly less damage. This was a mechanic that I didn’t like initially, but it makes you get good, as they say. Failing to execute proper dodges results in severe consequences. The most challenging aspect of dodging in Lies of P is precisely timing when to perform the maneuver. It’s more precise than in other games in the subgenre.
A Furry Attack is indicated when an enemy glows red, and the only way to deal with one is with a Perfect Guard, guarding at the moment right before the attack lands. You can’t dodge away or through them, nor can you use the regular guard/blocking mechanic. But attacking an enemy after a perfect guard can cause them to be Staggered, where you can deal massive damage. So there’s a good tradeoff.
All of these combat skills must coalesce during any boss battle, perhaps the most frustrating and rewarding parts of Lies of P. Each boss has a distinctive design and attack style that makes them stand out. Maybe it’s the mechanical Parade Master or the fiery King’s Flame Fuoco, but all are distinctive.
Each has multiple phases throughout their fights, too, so you won’t be one-and-doneing these difficult enemies. As soon as you think you’ve figured out their pattern after dying a few times, they have a new onslaught of attacks that you must learn. Some of the bosses took me upwards of an hour to suss out. While this was extremely frustrating, I never felt more accomplished as I was throwing my hands in the air after finally beating a boss I was stuck on.
If you’re having trouble with bosses, there are multiple ways to help. Most of the time, there is an area right before a boss fights with a few enemies that you can kill to farm Ergo, which can be used not only to level up your stats but to buy new weapons, upgrade them, and purchase items to help you in a fight.
As mentioned before, Hotel Krat acts as the central hub for the game, where you can level up, buy and upgrade your gear, and obtain new skills. If you’re having a hard time with a boss or just a certain level — looking at you St. Frangelico Cathedral — you can farm for Ergo and upgrade skills for a better shot. At Hotel Krat, you can upgrade and alter your weapons to increase and change their stats, too, something I highly suggest doing as often as possible.
You can also add equipment such as Amulets and Defense Parts to increase your health or defense stats. These are a good addition since if you struggle with a certain part of combat, like guarding, picking out the right gear can help with that. Although there’s not a difficulty setting for Lies of P, there are ways to help you proceed if you put in the time.
A major downside of the combat can be the camera. The auto lock-on works fine on regular enemies. However, with larger enemies like bosses, or if you’re stuck against a wall, the camera position may not pivot correctly, causing you to get hit or even die.
Lies of P Review — The Bottom Line
- Amazing atmosphere.
- Interestingly dark take on a classic fairy tale.
- Deep combat mechanics.
- Multiple ways to help get through difficult battles.
- Can be extremely difficult and almost unfair at times.
- Basic mechanics can be hard to master.
- Camera can be weird in battles.
Lies of P has a horror aesthetic that makes this iteration of Pinocchio unique. The subtle world-building is great for those who look for it, but those who try to just rush through the story can miss out. The truly scary part of Lies of P is the combat. Boss battles can be cruel and frustrating sometimes, even feeling unfair due to the controls that are hard to master. But if you stick through it, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. Souls fans shouldn’t sleep on Lies of P.
[Note: Neowiz provided the PS5 copy of Lies of P used for this review.]
Lies of P Review: Souls for the Puppets
A Souls-like filled with puppets and lies.What Our Ratings Mean