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So, it’s fair to say that I approached playing Lies of P on PS5 with fairly muted expectations. However, within the first hour, I was intrigued; by the fifth I was hooked; and now as I rapidly approach the 30-hour mark, I’m seriously debating where this game stacks up in my current GOTY ranking.
Yes, Lies of P is almost shamelessly attempting to ape Bloodborne — the 2015 FromSoftware-developed action RPG that shares DNA with the Souls games — but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And if you’re going to imitate any game it might as well be one almost universally considered among the best PS4 games ever made.
Much like its inspiration, Lies of P can be brutally punishing, but if you’re willing to meet its challenges, it provides moments of elation that only a select few games can match. Developer Neowiz Games has crafted a Bloodborne clone that coalesces into an experience that is so much more than a cheap knock-off. My initial skepticism was unwarranted. Lies of P is the real deal, and it’s all I want to play right now.
Lies of P: $59 @ Amazon
Inspired by games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Lies of P is a new entry in the Soulslike genre that challenges players to explore its nightmarish world and vanquish horrifying enemies. Master fast-paced combat, and craft your perfect loadout, as you delve deeper into the sinister world of Krat as the puppet come to life. Just don't expect to overcome the game's many brutal bosses without a few defeats along the way
No strings on this puppet
If you haven’t heard already, Lies of P is loosely based on Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, but don’t expect to find an animated singing cricket in this take on the beloved fantasy novel. However, you do play as a puppet — one who is capable of lying — and you begin your journey in the gothic city of Krat on a quest to find your creator, Geppetto.
One of the pillars of a Souls-style game is a somewhat ambiguous story, mostly told via environmental clues and collectible notes, but Lies of P opts for a more traditional plot format. And that makes for a central narrative that I’ve found significantly more engaging than the ones presented in the likes of Dark Souls.
That’s not to say that players who thoroughly explore levels won’t be rewarded with greater context either. The memorable environments you traverse are littered with interesting lore items, and there are plenty of extra details to uncover if you’re willing to stop and poke around in every single dark corner of Krat.
Speaking of Krat, Lies of P’s main setting takes clear cues from Bloodborne’s Yharnam, but manages to be memorable in its own right, even if it’s not a a totally original location. On your quest to stop an army of rampaging puppets, you’ll explore everything from a steampunk factory where sinister constructs are created, to a World’s Fair museum that showcases impressive technological advancements — although many of the exhibits will spring to life and try to murder you.
Fighting against the darkness
Of course, Lies of P isn’t just about wandering through well-realized locations and picking up compelling collectibles. Each of the game’s tightly-crafted levels is absolutely stuffed with intimidating enemies that will tear you to shreds if you’re not thinking strategically.
Again, much like Bloodborne, the pace of combat in Lies of P favors fast reflexes and aggressive attacking. The game encourages you to attack enemies quickly, and when you take a hit rather than retreat to lick your wounds, strike back in order to recover a little bit of your lost health. This pacing suits my preferred playstyle well and results in enemy encounters that will really get your adrenaline flowing.
Lies of P doesn’t offer the build diversity of a game like Elden Ring, but you are still given plenty of ways to customize your protagonist to suit your preferred method of attack. The game's most novel system comes in the form of weapons that can be disassembled into two parts and then mashed together to create new combinations.
Splicing together a Frankenstein creation of two seemingly mismatched weapon halves can prove to be highly effective. However, other combos might sound good in theory but in practice are significantly less useful. But there’s no resource cost to experimentation as you can assemble and dismantle weapons without penalty.
You also have a metallic arm that can be swapped out with various damage-dealing effects such as the ability to spit flames or an attachment that lets you shoot an explosive bolt. Plus, there’s the expected toolbox of consumable items and a skill tree that will have you agonizing for ages over which new abilities to select with your limited pool of upgrade points.
This is all to say that Lies of P gives you plenty of ways to make your Pinocchio feel distinct. And that’s very good news because being able to rework your loadout is practically essential when you hit a progression roadblock and can’t quite overcome one of the game’s numerous hulking bosses. And that's an experience that I suspect most players will likely face at some point.
Pushing through the pain
Speaking of challenging bosses, there are plenty awaiting players in Lies of P. While I would say the game falls on the easier side of the Souls scale — judging by developer interviews this appears to be intentional — there are a few encounters where the difficulty spikes pretty significantly. And in these moments your abilities (and perhaps sanity) will be seriously tested.
In fact, a mid-game boss battle gave me so much trouble that after two straight hours of failure, I (briefly) considered permanently walking away in defeat. However, after receiving some sage words from a helpful PR representative, and after experimenting with a new weapon, I was eventually able to bring the foe down. The feeling of pure victory was so intense that I’m still basking in it several days later.
That feeling will be very familiar to veteran Souls players, and like with so many entries in the Soulslike genre, it’s what constantly drives you forward in Lies of P. You won’t have any relaxing play sessions if you choose to step into Krat and face its many dangers, but as you inch through each gorgeous level and come closer to the final boss, each victory stays with you and feels worth the struggle.
Chasing that victory high is compelling and almost never infuriating. That’s because Lies of P does an impressive job of pretty much always staying on the right side of the fine line between frustration and fun. This is thanks in large part because the majority of bosses are very well crafted with imposing designs and absolutely epic music accompanying them. Rather than dreading each new terrifying titan who stood in my way, I relish the chance to face another colossal foe.
Lies of P is a surprise GOTY contender
Lies of P definitely doesn’t win any points for originality. It’s a blatant attempt to mimic what has made the works of FromSoftware, and more specifically Bloodborne, so successful over the last decade. However, it achieves what it sets out to with real confidence, and the lack of new ideas feels largely irrelevant because the game accompanies its objective so successfully.
If you have any fondness for the Soulslike genre, then Lies of P falls squarely into the essential category. Its fluid combat, satisfying challenge, captivating world, interesting story and large variety of weapons bond together to form a game that comes the closest yet to capturing the magic of FromSoftware’s legendary titles.
This year has been pretty darn incredible for gaming, and Lies of P is yet another new release to throw onto the increasingly long list of must-play games in 2023. Just a few months ago I certainly didn’t expect that Lies of P would be forcing its way into my personal Game of the Year ranking, but that’s exactly what has happened.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.