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Lies of P Hands-on Preview: Clockwork Puppets Pull Your Strings and Cost You Time

Out of all the Disney classics, all of the literary masterpieces from years gone by, I don’t think anyone would have chosen Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio as the next exciting addition to the Souls-Like genre, but that is exactly where we are, and I for one am ecstatic about it.

Having had a hands-on preview at Gamescom 2023, I found myself wondering if there was a way to get another slot, just so I didn’t have to wait weeks till I could next play it. If that’s not a glowing indictment I don’t know what is.

Related: Mortal Kombat 1 Hands-On Preview: The Culmination of Three Decades of Fighting

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Lies of P is Unique, Yet it Feels Familiar

Lies of P

The Souls-Like genre has exploded in recent years, with so many additions to the genre it can be difficult to keep up. Some are good, some are poor imitations and some are incredible. It may be too much to be able to categorise where Lies of P  falls based only on an hour, but there is some good indication as to where it’ll land on that spectrum.

In a world populated by puppets and automatons, players take control of Pinocchio, although not as you may know him. Gone is the woodgrain façade, replaced by an uncharacteristically attractive puppet, already distinguishing himself far from the family-friendly version everyone knows.

Set in the fallen city of Krat, Pinocchio – and players alike – will traverse the gloomy, miserable and blood-soaked streets with the simple and classic aim of becoming human… and finding out why the entire city seems to have been massacred, and Pinocchio’s fellow puppets have turned on their creators.

The city of Krat and the hotel that the hands-on featured are a glorious sight for the eyes, with the game boasting the lofty engine of Unreal Engine 4.72, the aesthetics of Krat are wonderfully displayed. Some of my time with the game was exploring, looking around and visually drinking in my surroundings, usually before being rudely interrupted by an enemy I hadn’t quite noticed.

The traditional Souls-Like features are present, with the winding routes, lack of a map or direction, damaging enemies and disturbing-yet-incredible-to-behold boss fights, with one of the two featured during the hands-on being the size of a house. I’m not ashamed to admit I failed to beat this boss, and it may have been to make me feel better about my sub-standard skills at the time, but only the boss was beaten only once during the three days of press experiences. For those reading this thinking “I could do better.” by all means – chapter six, the King of Puppets.

Related: Pinocchio-Inspired Lies of P goes Gold ahead of September Launch

Lies of P is an Experience You Won’t Want to Miss

Lies of P

Chapter six and the King of Puppets was one thing, but Chapter three was a whole other ordeal. Not in difficulty, but in the content offered.

It has been no secret that the game has been compared to Bloodborne by many, myself included, and that comparison is earned and certainly not a criticism. The gothic, dank streets littered with the corpses of the murdered; the Eldritch horrors on offer, including deformed and disturbed babies harassing you on your exploration, Lies of P pulls no punches, and it was during an interview with game director and creator Choi Jiwon he mentioned that this was intentional.

Whilst the game does pull the odd snippet from the Disneyified versions of the tale, the majority of it is from the original story by Carlo Collodi, considerably darker and more horrific than the more well-known version. Don’t expect cuddly tales and happy endings.

The comparisons to Bloodborne don’t end with the aesthetics, as Lies of P also includes some of the fastest, more agile combat of a Souls-Like I can remember. Featuring a huge array of weapons, a ‘Legion Arm’ that can be customised with a selection of buffs from throwing out poison patches of goo, to a straight up gun, and a dodge mechanic that doesn’t feel over-powered, but will prove pivotal in your approach, Lies of P seems to offer a multitude of different ways to beat it, and in my time with it, certainly rewarded me for changing it up where appropriate.

However, it can be said that whilst the game is punishing in a Souls-Like sense, it is also one of the most forgiving of the genre I have played. Newcomers don’t need to be as intimidated as they would be playing Bloodborne, Elden Ring and the like, with the map far less maze-like, the general combat quick to pick up but difficult to master, and a huge chunk of health potions that can be gained simply by hitting and killing the enemies. No more running around looking for one to prevent an easy death. Add to that the regular Stargazer’s, Lies of P’s version of save and level up points, and progress is easier, but certainly not easy.

Fans were right to question the setting when it was first announced, and the comparisons to Bloodborne are fair, but after some time with it, I can see Lies of P earning its place in the Souls-Like genre, and in some ways out-performing some of the established IPs.

What do you make of Lies of P? Will you be picking it up? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Luke Addison

Luke Addison is the Lead Video Game Critic and Gaming Editor. As likely to be caught listening to noughties rock as he is watching the latest blockbuster cinema release, Luke is the quintessential millennial wistfully wishing after a forgotten era of entertainment. Also a diehard Chelsea fan, for his sins.

Twitter: @callmeafilmnerd