Publisher: Neowiz Games
Developer: Round8 Studio
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 09.19.2023
While it may not have been as important in shaping the future of the video games industry as its older sibling Dark Souls, FromSoftware’s dark gothic action RPG Bloodborne is still hugely influential on its own. One upcoming release that clearly looked to the Hunter and their journey through Yharnam for inspiration is Lies of P, a new Soulslike from Neowiz Games and developer Round8 Studio.
However, as many similarities as there are between Lies of P and Bloodborne—from the Victorian-era setting, to a more aggressive approach to combat, to some familiar takes on how story and gameplay are presented to the player—there are also just as many elements that set the two titles apart.
First, of course, is the narrative core at the center of Lies of P. The “P” in this case is Pinocchio, as the characters and world of the game are loosely based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. What may initially seem like strange source material to build off of is now looking more and more like quite an inspired choice. The fairy tale’s theme of puppets translates into Krat, a city that’s become a place of horrors due to the revolt of its automaton servants. While this dashing new interpretation of Pinocchio doesn’t see his nose grow when he lies, choosing whether to tell the truth or not throughout the game looks to offer some deeper consequences. And, let’s be honest: Much like FromSoftware’s works of fiction, children’s fantasy stories of old were often tales of terror filled with strange characters, macabre themes, and dire fates for those both good and bad.
A Puppet’s Dark Past
Turning Pinocchio from a cute wooden boy to a human-esque automaton tasked with destroying his mechanical kinfolk may seem like quite a departure from the story we know and love. The thing is, that Disney version of the classic tale was in itself a sizable shift from the original elements of Carlo Collodi’s work.
Pinocchio’s life started as a log of wood that cried in pain after an Italian carpenter tried to turn it into a table leg. After receiving the log, puppeteer Geppetto crafts it into a wooden boy—who proceeds to kick his creator in the leg and run away. Upon meeting a talking cricket, instead of becoming friends, Pinocchio smashes the bug with a hammer. From there, Geppetto gets sent to prison, Pinocchio has his feet burned to ash, he bites off the paw of a thieving cat, the puppet meets a dead fairy, a group of undertaker rabbits come to collect Pinocchio’s corpse, and a flock of woodpeckers get tasked with chiseling down the boy’s nose after telling too many lies. And, that’s not even getting to the gorilla judge, the giant snake that laughs until it dies, or other events that get so weird that we’re not sure we should even mention them here.
The point is, The Adventures of Pinocchio was an epic tale filled with some seriously bizarre twists and turns—which makes for a perfect source of inspiration for a new Soulslike, if you ask us.
It’s in that gameplay that we’re also getting excited for what the development team is crafting in Lies of P. In terms of the basics, there’s a lot here that’ll feel familiar if you’ve played other similar titles. Combat is more about careful swings of your weapon and good stamina management than wildly hitting buttons or unleashing flashy combos, and well-timed parries or counterattacks can mean the difference between defeating an enemy or returning back to a checkpoint to try again.
One unique new element to those parries in Lies of P is that, if you perfectly block a foe’s attacks enough times, you can actually break their weapon, lessening the threat they pose against you. (Your own weapons can also break, but Pinocchio’s mechanical Legion Arm comes complete with a device that can sharpen them back up to new at any time.) Speaking of weapons, each melee option exists as two pieces, a hilt and a blade, and you can swap those parts to make new combinations that open up a larger roster of offensive possibilities. Pinocchio’s Legion Arm is also upgradable with its own special abilities, from deadly elemental attacks to the aptly named “Puppet String” grappling harpoon.
At this point, we’ve played more than our fair share of games from developers trying to recapture the magic of FromSoftware’s offerings. Even so, from its promises of deep, satisfying gameplay, to its unique take on a timeless tale, Lies of P is quickly shaping up to be one of the more interesting ones to come along—and that’s no lie.