Open the book on a frustrating fairytale in our Lies of P review.
Early literature has been a huge influence on pop culture over the years and Lies of P is no different. You may have heard of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, but have you heard of the 1883 Italian book it’s based upon? Written by Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio features a wooden puppet made by the poor woodworker Geppetto.
Whilst the 1940 film tones down a few of the more adult themes, the book features Pinocchio killing the talking cricket, getting tricked and hung by the Fox and Cat, not to mention the rabbit undertakers.
The starting sequence was a perfect introduction.
Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio have turned this classic tale into a thrilling, expansive and difficult soulslike game. Whilst these types of games aren’t for everyone, does this iteration of Pinocchio pull all the right strings or does it fall short of becoming a real boy? Find out in our Lies of P review!
The starting screen changes at certain points throughout the story.
Lies of P Review – Story
As previously mentioned, Lies of P draws heavily from The Adventures of Pinocchio – but for it to be adapted to this genre, it needed some modifications. Set in the fictional city of Krat, where a mysterious new power source was discovered, named Ergo.
This allowed the famous craftsman, Geppetto, to bring his creations to life with the help of inventor Lorenzini Venigni, who you may know as Mangiafuoco in the book or Stromboli in the movie.
The man behind Pinocchio.
These two great leaders of innovation paved the way for Krat to be filled with puppets (essentially robots) that are powered by this mysterious energy, Ergo. From police officers to factory workers and even circus entertainment, puppets were abundant. Until the day of the puppet revolt where they turned on their creators and slaughtered almost everyone in the city.
“Come in, make yourself comfortable! Feel free to take your arm off.”
You play as Pinocchio, of course, awakened by a blue butterfly, telling him to find his way to Hotel Krat, the last safe place in the city. You also find a small container with a friendly cricket, named Gemini, to help you on your way.
He pikes up every so often and talks about the current situation whilst calling you ‘Pal‘, which is a nice callback to the movie. This part serves as a tutorial of sorts as you pick a weapon and fight some enemies and most likely die… a lot.
The first boss should be easy! Right?
When Pinocchio arrives at the Hotel, he is greeted by Sophia (the blue butterfly) who tells him he must find Geppetto and help determine the cause of the puppet frenzy. As your journey takes you to several locations, including a factory, swamp, and church, you come across a multitude of friends and foes.
Each defeated boss gets you one step closer to the truth of why the puppets went mad and the cause of the simultaneous outbreak of the sickness known as the Petrification disease.
Anyone want to curl up by the fire and stroke my puppet hair?
This disease also turns humans into deformed monsters, which add another layer of darkness and additional enemies about halfway through the game. After finding Geppetto and trying to get to the bottom of everything, it seems it leads back to the peculiar Grand Academy of Alchemists, who conveniently have a cure for the petrification disease. There’s even a great reference to the whale that swallows Geppetto in the movie that will give you a good chuckle.
Oh, a spooky church, great…
Upon your ascent through the enormous last level, you will face difficult enemies and even more difficult choices. Twists, deaths, and betrayals lie before you as you come up against the last few bosses. These choices will determine which of the 3 endings you will obtain, either good or bad.
If you are well versed in the tale of Pinocchio and have picked all the correct choices up until now, you’ll get the ‘true’ or ‘best’ conclusion. Make sure you stick around until after the credits too for a tease of a potential sequel that won’t want to make you go home.
How much do you reckon a place with this view costs in this economy?
Lies of P Review – Gameplay
If you’ve undertaken any Soulslike games before, then you will recognize the familiar concepts presented in Lies of P. Newcomers may struggle slightly more, but most areas between boss battles are fairly forgiving. The basic attacks from your main weapon are straightforward, normal and heavy attacks. Of course, the speed is decided by your starting choice of weapon, you can be quick and do less damage or slow and increase that attack output.
Wield this weapon at your own risk of compensating for something.
To accompany your main weapon, Pinocchio has a decidedly obvious puppet arm that boasts some unique abilities. Called the Legion Arm, you can unlock up to 8 different appendages that have varying uses. From a Puppet string to pull your enemies in for the kill, a flamethrower and even a shield to block incoming attacks. Your last set of abilities are special attacks from your weapon, called Fable Arts. Each weapon has different arts but essentially acts as magic with a mana bar for it too.
What a nice night for a stroll with killer puppets on the loose.
As you dodge, parry and stagger your enemies all over Krat, make sure you level up with the ergo you receive for defeating them but if you die you need to run back and retrieve it (much like any other soulslike). One of the best things in this game, however, is being able to pick up your Ergo IN FRONT of a boss door instead of inside the room.
Pump those numbers, those are noob numbers!
A good offense is also a good defence and this plays an important part in battling puppets. You get 4 slots for different parts, each has pros and cons. Some reduce what type of attack damage you receive, slash, stab etc, whilst others buff your resistance to the many status ailments you come across.
Amulets come in handy too, providing a wide range of advantages to suit your play style. Additionally, there is a tonne of consumables and throwables you can use to gain the upper hand when required.
Inventory management is always key.
All of this is all good and well but you have to watch how much your equipment weighs, as a puppet isn’t as strong as you think. You can upgrade this stat or use an amulet to increase your carry capacity. This only pertains to weapons and defence parts, so don’t stress about picking up every little item you find, it’s not a bomb fallout.
One thing to keep ahead of your enemies is to make sure you upgrade your weapons and legion arm. Finding specific upgrade items and spending ergo will allow you to do this at your hotel base.
There are costumes?!
Travelling around can be tiresome on foot, but in Krat, they use handy teleportation devices otherwise known as Stargazers. Unlockable shortcuts also help you bypass enemies in some areas, although the level design is somewhat simpler than that of Bloodbone or Sekrio.
Substituting in for Bonfires or Lanterns, Stargazers can be found all over Krat and can help you get back to the hotel when in desperate need of levelling up before a boss fight. However, that’s not all that can help you with end-of-chapter bosses. At certain battles, there is a small fountain that will let you summon a spectre to come to your assistance. As there is no multiplayer so to speak, the spectre is your only ally in the game.
One of many Stargazers in Krat.
One last rare collectable, Quartz, is useful in unlocking more abilities. Once you get far enough in the game, the P Organ unlocks (your heart) and you can use quartz on a litany of varying upgrades, like more health vials, more damage or more amulet slots.
The loading description down the bottom helps with the immersion.
As for gameplay, Lies of P is incredibly deep even for a soulslike but it is done in such a way it keeps things balanced and never seems to be too easy. There is even more to discover like Golden Trees, wish stones and splitting weapons but we don’t want to keep you here all day!
The obvious subtext here is not lost on anyone.
Lies of P Review – Visuals
Saying this game is set in the 19th century would be too broad. Lies of P is set squarely at the height of the Belle Epoque era. A period in France and wider Europe that signifies peace, optimism, and technological advancement. On top of Victorian architecture, this is the perfect setting for Pinocchio running through Krat tearing puppets asunder.
Yeah, I think I’ll go another way thanks.
This slightly bleak and dark setting makes for ominous alleys, twisting passageways, and ruined villages. Although somehow everything looks astounding and incredibly detailed. Even the factory where puppets are made or the cathedral level (because there must be a cathedral level) have such a high level of detail to them.
The other positive was that no bugs, lags, or crashes happened through the 40-hour playthrough with the performance not noticeably dropping at all.
Destroyed cities don’t look that bad during the day.
Lies of P Review – Audio
There is as much voice acting as you’d expect from this genre, with a few lines uttered by each supporting character. However, Pinocchio remains silent the whole time which oddly works in this scenario. He nods every so often in case you begin to think his strings are just being pulled.
The soundtrack to go along with this foreboding city is suitably spooky and melancholic but the real highlight is another collectable you can discover. Vinyl Records are scattered throughout the levels with some only being available after certain choices are made or in new game plus. Once found, you can play them in the hotel which also acts as a gameplay device by giving Pinocchio more humanity (this is important for one of the endings).
Possibly the best record to find.
What Else? – Side Quests, Post-Game, Trophies
With most Soulslike games, there are three different endings with specific requirements to unlock each one. This will end up with at least 2 full playthroughs and a backup save for the last one. This is the bulk of the additional gameplay, with the new game + providing tougher enemies and more upgrades/items.
Dancing with the puppets in the pale moonlight.
Unfortunately, there are no side areas or optional bosses to explore, but that doesn’t mean there are no secrets to uncover. Aside from collecting weapons, amulets and costumes, you can also find cryptic vessels and Trinity Sanctums. Whilst only around half a dozen each across the game, to get the specific rewards you must solve a puzzle or answer a riddle.
Red-eye = Bad Guy
Although there isn’t a huge stack of side content, the main path coupled with collecting everything and the endings will net you at least 60-70 hours of puppetry-destroying enjoyment. Anything longer and you may feel like your own strings are getting pulled.
All dressed up and no puppets to dismember.
Lies of P may not be as grand as Elden Ring or as challenging as Sekiro but it sets itself apart with its unusual depiction of Pinocchio. A gameplay combination of dodging and parrying makes it feel fast paced and the game does a good job of keeping you on your toes.
I love the smell of Victorian buildings in the morning.
There are no real negatives from this soulslike themed fairytale and any fan of this type of game will thoroughly enjoy it. Puppets combined with monsters seems like an odd mix but it keeps things fresh as you lie and die your way through Krat. If strings are holding you back on this one, cut them loose and become your own puppet master in Lies of P.
So, why should you play Lies of P?
- You’re a fan of soulslikes
- Enjoy challenging gameplay
- An interesting take on a classic story
But why shouldn’t you play Lies of P?
- Don’t enjoy dying over and over
- Have a huge fear of puppets
- Not a quick game by any means
A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Lies of P review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the latest releases!