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Lies Of P Review: A Few Surprises Lie In Wait

  • Intriguing story and setting
  • Classic soulslike combat
  • Weapon customization
  • Uneven difficulty
  • Oversimplified level design

A PS5 review code for "Lies of P" was provided to SVG for this review. The game is available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Pinocchio and "Bloodborne" sound like they go together about as well as peanut butter and, well, something, but "Lies of P" proves that the strangest combinations really can work wonders. Players take control of a recently awakened Pinocchio, who must make his way through the grimy city of Krat, fighting puppets and rescuing inventors as he uncovers a dark mystery. The game is more steampunk horror than Disney musical, and its mesmerizing aesthetic is enough to get you on board in the first few minutes.


After hacking and slashing your way through the first of Krat's many twisted alleyways, "Lies of P" will have lulled you into a sense of security. In its opening hours, it presents as just another Soulslike, full of secrets to discover, enemies to fight, and bosses to get killed by. The longer you spend in the oil-drenched environments of Krat and its surrounding landscape, however, the more you'll see the startling depth that "Lies of P" has to offer.

The very premise of "Lies of P" is enough to garner skepticism from some gamers, but the game handily puts any doubts to rest. This is a totally competent Soulslike that uses its source material to surprising advantage and creates a world you can't help but want to explore. The mechanics may be a little overwrought, and the fights can drag on just a hair too long, but unlike most other entries in the genre, it's the story that will keep you coming back to "Lies of P."


A city like no other

"Lies of P" is set in the city of Krat, a place that answers the question, "What if the gilded age invented robotics?" The city and its inhabitants are decked out in all the clockwork gadgetry you'd expect from a steampunk setting, though this particular steampunk adventure is set in a nightmare. Once, inventors like Gepetto lived like kings and created beautiful robotic puppets, but now the humans of the city live in fear. The puppets have gone mad and turned violent, and they aren't the only threat. Something is rotting below the surface of Krat, and it could bring the entire city down to rubble.


Exploration in "Lies of P" is broken into rough stages. Pinocchio makes his way through some back alleys to Hotel Krat, functionally the game's hub world, and from there he ventures into various regions of the city and its surroundings. From an overrun factory floor to a dazzling gothic cathedral, all the scenery in the game is lushly detailed and filled with tiny bits of environmental storytelling. The levels themselves are more straightforward than they appear, which tends to render the standard Soulslike shortcuts unnecessary. More often than not, that actually works to the game's advantage. When you're deeply engrossed in piecing together a story through hints in the landscape, it's nice not to wonder where you're supposed to go next.


For once, a story

The Soulslike genre isn't known for having the most engrossing or approachable stories. The eerie vibe of "Bloodborne" is enticing enough, but most of us discover what's actually going on in Yharnam by reading wikis or watching YouTube videos while trying to calm ourselves down after a particularly challenging boss fight. Surprisingly, and happily, "Lies of P" runs in the opposite direction.


Rather than hiding the best bits of lore in item descriptions, actual characters step forward throughout the game to deliver comprehensible information. The voice acting isn't always top-notch, but the fact that there's so much of it is kind of a relief. Pinocchio meets plenty of bizarre characters who help him understand the strange affliction that's upending life in Kratz, and there are a few strong twists in the tale. The story isn't revolutionary, but it's straightforward and exciting enough to motivate you to take another stab at that difficult boss so you can find out what happens next.

Mix and match, hack and slash

The combat is make or break in a game like this, and "Lies of P" pulls off the classic Soulslike formula with ease. At its core, the game feels like a younger brother to "Bloodborne." Timing blocks and attacks is key, and Pinocchio is able to regain some lost health by quickly lashing back against his attacker. Combat is often slower and more methodical than some Soulslike fans might be used to, in part because Pinocchio frustratingly can't cancel out of his animations to correct a poorly timed attack.


Here the weapons don't transform, but they can be configured in a number of inventive ways. Each weapon has a blade and handle component that can be mixed and matched to adjust not just attribute scaling but also special abilities that Pinocchio charges with his blocks. Found a fire ax and a hilt fitting for a greatsword? Fuse them together and get to work.

As with any Soulslike, players can expect to die over and over again as they make their way through "Lies of P." The game's difficulty level is noticeably uneven. Some segments are a breeze, with minor enemies being easily defeated or avoided. Others will have you balancing on thin beams while enemies lob balls of decay at you, trying to knock you into the pit below. The game never becomes so easy or so difficult that it stops being fun, but the sudden swings can leave players in the lurch.


P-Organs and robo-arms

"Lies of P" tosses a handful of new mechanics into the usual Souslike formula. Pinocchio's left arm is a hunk of metal that can be fitted with all sorts of attachments. He can use a flamethrower to clear crowds or a nasty metal hook to pull opponents in close. Creating new arm weapons and leveling up the ones you already have will take up plenty of time and in-game resources, but that's not all that players will be hunting down.


Pinocchio also has a quartz-powered device lodged inside him called a P-Organ. This functions as an entirely separate, and somewhat complicated, skill tree that players can level up by finding hidden quartz throughout the many zones of Kratz. Individual P-Organ ranks produce small buffs, but by chaining together sections of the skill tree, players can massively increase their power. It's a system that can feel a bit superfluous at times, especially if you're a "big sword smash" player, but choosing to engage with it can deliver rewards throughout a playthrough.

Lie or die

"Lies of Pinocchio" isn't exactly anything new. It combines an old story with a much-beloved game genre and delivers more-or-less exactly what it promises. For a Soulslike, it has a genuinely strong story that, when combined with the game's excellent visual style, helps it stand out from the crowd. Pinocchio's journey through Kratz and exposure to the concept of lying are both well-implemented and intriguing to watch unfold.


The game's combat is fairly standard stuff, but the many additional mechanics that are sometimes literally bolted onto Pinocchio's body help it from getting stale. Get sick of your sabre and you can grab a longsword. Finally grow tired of shooting fire from your wrist, and you can equip Pinocchio with a virtual stun-gun. There's enough meat on Pinocchio's metaphorical bones to keep fans of the genre hooked for a few dozen hours at least.