Lies of P is one of those games I wasn't quite sure fully existed for some time. It came out of nowhere with an excellent trailer and theming, capturing just what people love about modern From Software games. Given it had little hype and the developer had only ever put out one game, it felt like a project too good to be true.
That was until I finally managed to get it in my hands and give it a go. Though I only got a little time with it, I left incredibly impressed by just how smooth and great everything looks. Being clear in vision yet distinct in action, my short preview left me savouring every little sight, prepared for the full release.
Though some cracks did appear, small moments of brilliance came in too with mechanics and ideas I've wanted from a soulslike for a long time.
A quick start
Though it is near impossible to talk about a soulslike without talking about the titular Souls series, it is more warranted here than in the likes of The Surge and even Steelrising. Initially, I was taken aback by just how similar small movement mechanics like running, opening doors, and using items felt.
Somehow, they have managed to utterly grab the feel of exploration in Dark Souls. It helps that the backdrop is great. You play the role of Pinocchio in a world overrun by evil mechanoid puppets. You have to find Geppetto to become real once more. Taking the timeless tale of Pinocchio, this reimagining is creative and gives a lot of room for unique enemy designs.
The world itself looks fantastic, blending elements of steampunk with a murky noir. When I first heard of this backdrop, I was worried it would come across as cheesy, like all those 'dark Winnie the Pooh' stories that have come out since the character entered the public domain. From what I've seen so far, I'm happy to report it feels tonally consistent and treats itself with the seriousness needed to tell such a story.
Breaking the lore
Despite this, Lies of P relies very little on cutscenes and dialogue, opting to show, not tell with letters and notes scattered around the world. As well as this, tactically broken items, corpses and environments hold up the rest,- creating a world that makes you want to explore it more.
You wake up on a carriage, with nothing but a note and a choice of weapons. Just outside it, a city has gone mad and you have to chase the trail of bodies and carnage to its epicentre. In between objectives, enemy puppets, from mercenaries to dogs, guard every main entrance and exit. You have to kill to get through.
For the most part, gameplay itself feels excellent, with interesting weapon choices and in-depth customisation. Replacing traditional armour are joints that you customise Pinocchio with. This means that he will roughly look the same throughout, a sticking point that may annoy those who love a character creator.
A traditional approach
Lies of P, like those that came before it, is all about stamina management. You must protect your health and you have a form of magic that can make you do special moves. Knowing when to dodge and when to attack is what will push you through the next boss. The aesthetic of the game is quite like Bloodborne but the speed is closer to Dark Souls. Enemies are slow and methodical, rewarding you for patience.
This being said, there are reasons to speed yourself up. Pulse Cells, the health regeneration tool that comes back after each stay at the game's proverbial campfires, can be restored in combat by doing enough damage. This means that fights that look unwinnable can turn around if you get just enough damage in.
As well as this, replacing traditional magic with special moves means you are incentivised to create a build that is well-rounded, indulging in everything Lies of P has to offer. This being said, combat can feel a slight bit clunky against the game's quicker enemies. I often felt like my character wasn't quite designed to handle more fast-paced environments. As is always the case with this kind of game, it's hard to know if that's my fault.
I'm looking forward to finding that out.