Master of puppets.
September 16, 2023 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Lies of P carves a singular space out of the Soulsborne genre [Polygon] “Lies of P is the latest addition in the ever-growing lineup of Soulsborne-inspired games. On paper, it definitely dresses the part. It’s a hack-and-slash game with obtuse mechanics; challenging areas delimited by sweet, sweet checkpoints; and dramatic entrances for each and every boss encounter. The standout element is its narrative, which sets the tale of renowned lying apologist Pinocchio against the Belle Époque era.” [Gameplay Trailer][Story Trailer][1 Hour of Midgame Gameplay]

• An honest-to-goodness superb soulslike, and that’s no lie. [IGN]
“It’s both praise and criticism to say that Lies of P follows the blueprint pioneered by FromSoftware down to the finest detail, with precious few deviations. The UI and menus are strikingly similar to every soulslike you’ve ever played, the aesthetic is almost identical to Bloodborne, and combat is a methodical dance of attacks and parries designed with difficulty in mind. It sticks so close to the script that it got to the point where I’d meet a seemingly friendly character and think “Ah, this is the one who’s going to betray me later,” with full confidence that I was spot on in that assessment. There’s even a major boss with the same name and rough appearance as a Dark Souls boss, which is honestly just kinda hilarious. In fact, this isn’t even the first Eurocentric soulslike featuring murderous marionettes! Almost exactly one year ago I reviewed Steelrising, which has a bizarre number of things in common with Lies of P, from its mechanical enemies gone mad to its trendy and historical urban setting. Thankfully, Lies of P is a much better game and manages to stand out in other ways, but it doesn’t exactly earn a whole lot of points for originality.”
• Even with strings attached, Lies of P holds its own. [PC Gamer]
“There was a moment, after watching Pinocchio carve through his 200th rampant puppet with a squeal of grinding gears, when I wondered how we got here as a people. Impossibly, in a year where Elden Ring's expansion is still waiting in the wings and Lords of the Fallen is reusing the name of 2014's most middling Soulslike, our best shot at an off-brand Dark Souls is a Korean-Italian puppet and his chatterbox cricket companion. But somehow you can put an oversized bonesaw in Pinocchio's hands and it just feels right. While Lies of P trips over some mechanical clumsiness and can't escape its inspirations, it's a competent action game with a unique toolset for experimentation. Maybe more impressively, through the grim spectacle of puppet violence, it's a successful gothic folktale reimagining. Pinocchio is cool now. That simple assertion is the source of a lot of Lies of P's joy: Instead of the jolly singing puppet, he's a blank-faced metal death machine with a strong Timothee Chalamet aura. He's the kind of weaponized pretty boy you need when "Ergo," the miraculous, mysterious fuel powering your city's puppet automata workforce, turns those same puppets into a legion of homicidal robots. It's such an absurd fiction that even in spots where the gameplay falters, knowing I was fighting as Pinocchio without the whole thing feeling ridiculous was a source of almost manic, surreal glee.”
• String theory: Lies of P is an elegant Soulslike that's too on the nose [Eurogamer]
“The story is, well, it’s there. It’s hard to get drawn into narrative when so much of it is an obvious contrivance to create analogues for systems and mechanics from Bloodborne and Dark Souls. And while I adore the cryptic storytelling style of those games, it really doesn’t work as well when, instead of slowly stagnating undead and half-mad beasts, you’re surrounded by tight-lipped people hanging out in a luxury hotel who are expecting you to save them while telling you little and charging you through the nose for goods and services. They’re taking the P, if you ask me. Lies of P is consistently weakest where it cleaves too strongly to the From Software formula and strongest where it innovates. Weapons for instance can be broken down into two components: a blade (or equivalent bashy/stabby bit) and a handle, which can then be recombined however you like. The blade dictates the type and amount of damage done, while the stat scaling and move set are attached to the handle. Each component has a special move, like a unique attack or adding extra element damage, providing even more reason to experiment. Only the blade part is upgraded in typical Soulslike fashion, the handles can just have their stat scaling slightly tweaked. You can invest in a blade early on and it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting resources or locking yourself into one style of combat because you can just stick it on a different handle later. But then the whole system is somewhat spoiled by boss soul weapons being fixed single pieces. At times, Lies of P is clumsy and frustrating, but there’s a solid core of Soulslike fun to be had and a few glimmers of greatness. It leaves me hoping that the team has the confidence to step out of From Software’s shadow with their next game.”
• Steampunk Bloodborne With 60FPS Performance [Kotaku][Demo Review]
“The FromSoftware inspirations—Bloodborne in particular—are obvious. Lies of P bleeds from the same vein as FromSoft’s 2015 release. From the gothic cathedrals to the blood-soaked streets to the slim-wheeled carriages, it’s understandable to mistake Lies of P for a Bloodborne clone. There’s a Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice-type customizable robotic arm you can outfit with a grappling hook, flamethrower, or gun. The movement is slower, though, putting it on par with Dark Souls. And while it doesn’t take anything from Elden Ring, Lies of P still rests its head at FromSoft’s bonfires. Sure, there are some pretty overt similarities like the somewhat gothic art direction. But to call it a clone would be overly reductive. Lies of P is more a love letter to FromSoft than a ripoff. The combat in Lies of P is a bit clunky at first blush, but it becomes more digestible as you continue on. You battle against an assortment of animatronics as you make your way to Hotel Krat, the central hub location where Pinocchio can develop new skills, upgrade his equipment, and chat with the denizens. Combat is a bit imprecise and stiff, and the block and parry don’t go far by way of preventing damage or throwing your enemy off balance, respectively. The demo is just a small snapshot, though, so things could change as you progress. That said, cutting up enemy robots—or, in my case, poking them to destruction with a rapier thanks to the dexterity-based Path of the Bastard playstyle, one of three you can choose from at the demo’s opening—is crunchy and satisfying.”
posted by Fizz (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve never been able to “click” with any of the soulsborne “clones” ; no one seems to get the scale and timing and plain “feel” of it right. But i have to say : the idea of a grimdark pinocchio soulsborne game ….. is intriguing.
And I hadn’t heard of it - thanks for posting!
posted by das_2099 at 8:41 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

I'm just shocked it turns out to be so well-reviewed--has any game been so universally panned based on early trailers and demos, then turned out to be...good?
posted by mittens at 10:44 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

I scrubbed through the "one hour gameplay" video hoping for some nose-growing action and was sorely disappointed. WHY WOULD YOU HAVE PINOCCHIO IN YOUR GAME AND NOT HAVE SOME GOOFY NOSE SHIT GOING ON? It's like making a game featuring Willy Wonka and ignoring the existence of chocolate. I'm so confused.

also why do gaming streamers seem so bored all the time
posted by phooky at 10:50 AM on September 16 [6 favorites]

As with the actual Soulsbornes I'll admire this by watching other people play it, since the mechanics of these games are like a literal checklist of things that drive me nuts in videogames.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 10:54 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Does nobody else remember the very recently released Steelrising? Where you played an animatronic killer mannequin versus other mechanical monstrosities in a grim dark version of Paris during the (parallel universe including Marie Antoinette) revolution?

Sounds very similar. I never clicked with Steelrising unfortunately. Got it on sale. It's a Soulslike with a very generous difficulty slider, if anyone's interested (I know the difficulty of the genre is a touchy subject here sometimes). If anything, it showed that making games like this easy really does make them feel pointless. I don't "love" difficult games, but a Souls game or a Soulslike without difficulty is just not fun.

Maybe I'll pick this up on a deep sale down the road. I just don't have the time or discipline to finish these kinds of games anymore. Sounds cool though.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:54 AM on September 16

The graphics are amazing, but the voice acting is so corny. I would enjoy a lot of games more if they just left out voice acting altogether and did subtitles, or at least gave the option to turn off voices. Which, maybe they do, and I just never looked for the setting? A quick Google search indicates that I'm not the only one wishing this were possible.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:03 AM on September 16

It's important that video game voiceovers exist because ProZD needs a day job to allow him to keep producing ridiculous short videos.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:31 PM on September 16 [4 favorites]

I hope the Lies of P becomes a metaphor for Dark Souls.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:12 PM on September 16

I have been hyped for this since it was first announced. the narrative conceit is gloriously stupid and the game is otherwise so openly gunning to be the Bloodborne successor the world needs. plus it's on Game Pass! so I already have it installed and waiting for me to find any excuse to goof off and fuck up some puppets during working hours
posted by Kybard at 6:25 PM on September 16

Game rules. It’s so good, I feel like I’m playing Sekiro again in the catharsis it brings on.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 5:16 PM on September 17

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