Back in June 2023, I had the privilege of checking out a preview of Lies of P, a new action-RPG Souslike title created by NEOWIZ. It was a pleasantly surprising game which took the tales of Pinocchio and twisted it into a grim, gothic adventure where you traversed the city of Krat fighting off crazed robot Puppets. I enjoyed this unexpected Soulslike reimagining of a children’s story during the preview and couldn’t wait to review the full release.
I had lofty expectations going into this game and after beating it, I am happy to report that it surpassed all of them. I’m not lying like Pinocchio does when I say, Lies of P is one of the best Soulslike titles I’ve ever played outside of even FromSoftware’s classics, and I’m going to you tell why.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by NEOWIZ. The company did not see the contents of the review before publication.
Lies of P Review: Presentation & performance
One of the first aspects of Lies of P that caught my attention was the presentation. The artful design of this game’s setting features gritty, gothic and light steampunk-like aesthetics to convey a world that’s fallen into ruin. You will be travelling through all sorts of varied locales from ruined cities, backwater swamps, collapsed Puppet factories and more, rendered with stunning detail and atmospheric lighting.
Lies of P
Playtime: 41 hours
Release date: Sept. 19, 2023
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Microsoft Store & Steam)
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Without spoiling anything, one location near the end of the game impressed me greatly by the sheer size of it. When I reached the end, I witnessed a beautiful vista with a massive draw distance, which showed me how far I had come on my journey up to that point.
The design presentation of the enemies and characters you will encounter in Lies of P are just as creative as the environments. The 19th century-style character designs of the NPCs are visually pleasing to look at and feature homage nods to their counterparts from the original story.
The character designs of the enemies and bosses, though, are a sight to behold. These shambling, crumbling monstrosities are packed with all sorts of cool details, horrific metallic sound effects plus erratic, yet robotic behaviors which help immerse you in the game’s dark, steampunk setting.
The game’s audio presentation has equal levels of high-quality structure as the visual presentation. While you will mostly be hearing ambient background noise exploring the game’s levels, Lies of P does feature an extensive soundtrack. It contains bombastic, orchestral scores to heighten the tension of boss battles, alongside melancholy pieces for the game’s emotional moments.
There are also collectable in-game vinyl tracks you can play in Hotel Krat, the game’s safe hub area. Not only are these songs soothing to listen to, but they also play a minor role in the game’s story, which I will elaborate on later.
To round off the presentation is the game’s technical performance. I reviewed Lies of P on the Xbox Series X, and it ran at 60fps with no framerate drops and at a crisp 1080p resolution. While the game struggles to load in textures during some cutscenes, it only happens for a brief second and is so negligible you won’t even know it’s happening half of the time.
Lies of P Review: Story
The story of Lies of P takes place in Krat, a city which reached unparalleled heights of prosperity thanks to the discovery of a potent energy resource called Ergo. With Ergo, scientists and engineers were able to create technologically advanced automatons called Puppets to help make life easier whether it be through construction, law enforcement or even entertainment purposes.
However, Krat’s golden age wouldn’t last as one day all the Puppets suddenly went mad and began killing any humans on sight. At the same time, a mysterious epidemic called the Petrification Disease started making its way through Krat, killing off human survivors hiding from the frenzied Puppets.
Krat’s only hope for survival lies in P, an automaton in the shape of a teenage boy created by Geppetto, one of original creators of the Puppets. P is no ordinary Puppet, as he is programmed with extensive combat knowledge and can be equipped with a large arsenal of weapons. With the aid of Geppetto and several allies, P must traverse the ruined city of Krat to find out what caused the Puppets to go nuts. He must also discover a cure for the Petrification Disease and save the remaining human survivors.
As someone who’s mainly familiar with the Disney movie adaptation, Lies of P’s story fascinated me in how it effectively re-interpreted the tale and characters of Pinocchio in a Soulslike scenario. Some characters from the story may show up as NPCs which offer side quests, while others are transformed into terrifying boss fights.
Tell the truth or lie?
The most intriguing part of the story is how it incorporates Pinocchio’s iconic trait of lying to everyone as a gameplay mechanic. Throughout the story, you will be confronted with morality choices where you will have to tell the truth or a lie in a short time limit. On many occasions, you will be in situations thinking “Do I tell the truth for the greater good or do I tell a lie to protect a person’s heart from being broken?”
This simple but very effective story-telling mechanic had me invested in the plot and left me pondering if I made the right choices long after I had made them. Also, depending on how many truths or lies you tell, it can massively affect the direction of the story, change the ending, and unlock other awesome secrets that I dare not disclose.
Lies of P’s story fascinated me in how it effectively re-interpreted the tale and characters of Pinocchio in a Soulslike scenario.
Even if you’re not familiar with the source material, Lies of P’s story stands on its own merits. It’s an entertaining and grim adventure packed with captivating mysteries, great moments of action, interesting character development and has immense replay value thanks to the lying mechanic which can lead to multiple outcomes for the main plot and side quests.
Lies of P Review: Gameplay
The gameplay structure of Lies of P involves the player exploring the interconnected levels of Krat and beyond to uncover the cause of the Petrification Disease and the Puppet Frenzy. Along the way you will fight hordes of enemies and bosses, acquire hidden items and gear, open checkpoints to fast travel to or respawn at when you die, and unlock shortcuts to backtrack through areas faster.
Lies of P’s exploration gameplay follows the Soulslike formula adequately well. Although, there are a couple of surprise side quests and secrets hidden within the levels to keep them interesting and motivate you to revisit them later.
Lies of P's multifaceted combat system
The meat of Lies of P’s gameplay is the combat system, and it is my favorite part of the game. At first, the combat is slow-paced and methodical, where you read an enemy’s attack patterns to decide when’s the best time to attack or defend. However, as you progress further into the game, the combat system gradually speeds up and introduces more complexity.
For instance, every weapon has two special super moves called Fable Arts. These Fable Arts can take the form of offensive attacks that damage enemies, defensive moves which help you withstand enemy attacks, or utility moves that give you a temporary boost in power.
Then you have the Legion Arms, which are secondary tools that transform your left arm into a variety of specialist weapons. These range from grappling hooks, flamethrowers, shields which blow up anything that strikes them, landmine deployers, cannons and more. These gadgets start with basic abilities, but you can upgrade them with brand-new abilities which can dismantle Puppets in seconds or give you extra defensive options in a pinch if you don’t have time to block or dodge.
Speaking of blocking, one of the coolest combat mechanics in Lies of P is the Perfect Guard. If you time a block just as an enemy is about to strike, you can perform a Perfect Guard to block all incoming damage and prevent yourself losing stamina.
If you block enough attacks in a row, an enemy will become vulnerable to being staggered via Fable Arts or fully charged heavy attacks and be left open for a finishing move called a Fatal Attack. Using Perfect Guard will even allow you to break an enemy's melee weapon in half, causing their attacks to become weaker and have a shorter melee range for the rest of the fight.
All these flashy mechanics and super moves do come at a cost though. Melee weapons have durability meters that wear down as you strike enemies or block attacks. As the durability meter decreases, your weapon will deal less damage and even bounce off enemies’ bodies. If a weapon’s durability meter is fully depleted, your weapon will break.
The huge variety of combat options at your disposal in Lies of P had me on the edge of my seat with excitement.
Thankfully, you can prevent this from happening by using a tool called the Grinder. This tool lets you repair a weapon’s durability meter by using the gears in P’s Legion Arm like a grindstone to sharpen your weapon’s blade.
I loved the huge variety of combat options at your disposal in Lies of P. Switching back and forth between using my melee weapons, sharpening my weapons to keep them from breaking and blasting foes to bits with my Legion Arms had me on the edge of my seat with excitement. This is only the beginning of Lies of P’s in-depth combat system, as this game features multiple ways you can customize P’s abilities to make him into an unstoppable killing machine.
A vast world of customization options
When resting at Hotel Krat, you can use Ergo acquired from killing enemies to level up P and give him extra stat boosts. These include more health and stamina for extra survivability, increased weight capacity to carry heavier weapons without crippling your movement or being able to dish out more damage.
In addition to levelling up P’s stats, you can acquire passive perks by upgrading his P-Organ (a.k.a. his heart) By using rare materials called Quartz in Geppetto's office at Hotel Krat. You can unlock all kinds of special traits such as dealing more damage with Fable Arts, increase the number of healing items you can carry, acquire more Ergo from killing enemies, consume less stamina when attacking, dodge roll multiple times in a row and more.
You also have the Weapon Assembly mechanic, which is where the real magic happens. By visiting the weapons workshop in Hotel Grat or resting at Stargazers, you can take weapons you have acquired throughout the game, dismantle them, and combine different parts together to create a brand-new weapon. I love the Weapon Assembly workshop as it allows you to build potentially dozens of weapons with stat-scaling and move-sets that are tailored to your own playstyle.
For example, I prefer using small and fast weapons to attack enemies while they’re still recovering from performing their biggest attacks. So, I took small handles containing move-sets and Fable Arts that strike fast, and combined them with long-blades to fix a handle's short melee range weakness. I also used this method to create a variety of fast elemental weapons to deal extra damage to foes who were weak against certain elements and status effects.
This insane level of character customization helped make the combat system ten times better. I was already a dangerous Puppet-slaying demon at the start of the game just from the base combat mechanics. However, by the end of the game, I became a grim reaper on the battlefield slaying almost everything in my path thanks to all the ‘Frankensteined’ weapons I created, and the P-Organ upgrades I acquired. As a result, the power fantasy I experienced was so gratifying and made all the hours I spent modifying my character worth the effort.
On a side note, this game also features something that I wish even FromSoftware’s Soulslike titles had — cosmetic costumes. Throughout the game, you can find and equip a plethora of masks and outfits for P to give him all sorts of stylish appearances. The best part is that these outfits don’t alter your stats, meaning you can look fashionable while still being functional when hunting the mad Puppets of Krat.
Brutal and relentless boss battles
All things considered, that doesn’t mean to say that Lies of P is easy, far from it. This game can and will crush your spirit multiple times if you don’t take it seriously and master the combat system. Even weak enemies can pose a threat as they hide around corners waiting to ambush you and feature a repertoire of long combo-attacks which must be dodged or Perfect Guarded to avoid damage.
This is especially true of the bosses of Lies of P; these freaks of nature are no joke. They hit like meteorite strikes, have a ton of health, and possess diverse move-sets which alternate between fast attacks and slow, delayed ones to throw off your Perfect Guard or dodge roll timing. Some bosses even have multiple phases where they transform, gain a second life bar, acquire an entirely new move-set, attack faster and become even more aggressive.
These bosses are brutally unrelenting and will highly likely leave you frustrated wondering why you can’t win, but they’re not impossible to defeat. Bosses have certain weaknesses you can take advantage of by building weapons with damage types or status effects they’re vulnerable to. Plus, you can equip certain Legion Arms to exploit these weaknesses or even take a boss’ strength and use it against them.
Analyzing attack patterns, learning when to strike at opportune moments and using your arsenal to its full potential are the keys to conquering the bosses in Lies of P. Once you figured out how to beat a boss you have been stuck on for hours, it can lead to immense moments of cathartic satisfaction. Especially when you break a boss’ weapon through Perfect Guarding and then finish them off with a Fable Art attack while they’re still in shock over losing their weapon.
However, if you’re having a challenging time beating a boss, you can use currency called Star Fragments at a water font located near a boss’ arena to summon an ally called the Specter to aid you in battle. This otherworldly hunter doesn’t have much health but can inflict a decent amount of damage and distract a boss while you attack it from behind, giving less-skilled players a fighting chance at beating bosses they’re stuck on.
I dare say the Specter is almost a necessity for a couple of boss fights as they involve fighting multiple bosses at once, so there’s no shame in summoning an ally if things get too difficult. However, don’t expect the Specter to do all the work for you, as it can die quickly if you’re not contributing to the battle.
Character build re-spec woes
As fun as the combat and character customization is in Lies of P, there is one gameplay bugbear I need to warn you about. Late in the game, you will acquire the option to re-spec aspects of P and get a refund on upgrade currency and materials should you feel the character build you have created isn’t working. This includes resetting P’s levels, Legion Arm upgrades and P-Organ upgrades.
To re-spec your character, you will need to obtain Gold Coin Fruits from the Gold Coin Tree and offer them up to the Saintess of Mercy Statue (all of which you encounter later in the story). However, this system has some major caveats.
The Gold Coin Tree only produces a single Gold Coin Fruit every ten minutes (up to a maximum number of eight Fruits at a time) and the price for re-speccing your character is ridiculously high. On top of that, the price increases each time you re-spec P to the point where even just re-speccing your P-Organ upgrades can cost 30 Gold Coin Fruits after only spending 12 Fruits the first time.
I’m not a big fan of this system as I was often forced to wait hours upon hours for the opportunity to re-spec my character if I didn’t like the upgrade choices I had made. Plus, this system isn’t explained until the third act of the game. By that time, I had already spent Gold Coin Fruits on buying items or fulfilling side quests, so I had to wait even longer. Granted there are items and P-Organ upgrades where you can speed up the process of farming Gold Coin Fruit, but not by much.
Admittingly, this system did make me take more consideration when creating my character build before committing to using valuable resources. Also, this is a guaranteed, albeit very slow source of currency for re-speccing. So, you don’t have to worry about hunting a specific, rare monster and praying that the loot drop-rate for the re-spec currency isn’t impossibly high like in other action-RPGs.
Lies of P Review: Final thoughts
You should play Lies of P if ...
You should not play Lies of P if ...
I was already a fan of Lies of P when I played the preview build, but when I played the full game and reached the end credits, I was completely enamored. The combat system was fun, laden with engaging mechanics, and the bosses were demanding but satisfying to beat. The plot had me engrossed with its twisted take on Pinocchio, and it is packed with layers upon layers of character and weapon customization to experiment with for hours.
While I didn’t like the idea of time-gating resources to re-spec your character, this did not blemish my overall positive opinion of the game.
Lies of P is set to release on Sept. 19, 2023, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC via the Microsoft Store & Steam. In addition, this game is also coming to Xbox Game Pass on the day it launches.
If you want to check out one of 2023's best Xbox games to see if it’s your cup of tea, there’s a demo for it available right now on Xbox stores.
Lies of P
Lies of P is a deliciously dark and fun Soulslike action-RPG featuring a complex combat system, a large rogue’s gallery of challenging bosses to defeat and an intriguing storyline that twists the tale of Pinocchio on its head.