Lies of P Impression
Early on, Lies of P demands a mastery of guarding, dodging, and timing.
Lies of P is an upcoming Souls-like action RPG from NEOWIZ and Round8 Studio. It tells a distorted tale derived from Pinnochio in the Belle Époque-inspired city of Krat, and is planned to release in August 2023 for PC as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles. RPGamer had the chance to preview several hours of the game prior to its official demo release and explore the perilous city, facing the myriad of mindless puppets in up-tempo combat that nonetheless requires strategy.
Lies of P‘s demo build has an unceremonious introduction. The game’s central setting of Krat has seen puppets going haywire against and harming humans. However, protagonist P is unaffected by this frenzy and must traverse the city in search of his father, Geppetto, through difficult situations while avoiding the Stalkers, a group of puppet-hunting humans. A brief narrative dialogue sets the stage and players take control of P through some straightforward tutorials before they choose a primary weapon. These weapons give the player access to three combat styles: Balance, Dexterity, or Strength.
Dexterity favors precise, fast attacks, and nimble dodges. Strength uses brute force allied with slow attacks and an even slower recovery time. Balance is the middle ground. Every weapon has its advantages and weaknesses. The dexterous rapier strikes fast and consumes less stamina, but its narrow range hinders the player when facing more than one enemy. The mighty broadsword is sluggish but massive, walloping the surrounding enemies hard but leaving the player wide open to a counterattack. While each weapon might work better for specific scenarios, the primary driving factors for them are the player’s build and their personal preference.
Weapons have a pesky durability system. At low durability levels, attack power is decreased, and when it falls to zero, the weapon is destroyed. It initially feels like a largely inconsequential feature, since a Grinder available in the inventory from the get-go freely repairs weapons. However, facing bosses becomes much more challenging and frustrating when it ends up being necessary to fix a weapon mid-battle, a too-laborious process that takes away the intensity of the moment. The example boss in the demo was tough enough, and needing to repair the weapon during the fray felt too away from the encounter rather than being an engaging mechanic.
P has four statuses on display: HP, Fable, Stamina, and Legion. HP and Stamina work as usual, while Fable is the game’s MP equivalent. Weapons are split into two parts – the blade and the handle – with each piece boasting a Fable Art. For instance, parrying isn’t a general mechanic in Lies of P, but rather the art of a handle. P learns to assemble new weapons, mixing different blades and handles for custom builds. Fable Arts are flashy and valuable, adding an exciting appeal to combat. Another tool at P’s disposal is the Legion Arm, his mechanical left hand. It grants additional capabilities, and utilizing it consumes the Legion gauge. One of these, the Puppet String, releases a wire that can pull an enemy towards the player, briefly stunning it and leaving it open for a ruthless combo. These arms add a line of strategy to the game and can assist situationally, but they proved ineffective against Lies of P‘s most threatening assignment, facing bosses.
The demo showcases two major bosses and a mini-boss. Two of them are massive puppets that mercilessly pound in the player’s direction, barely leaving an opportunity to strike. Early on, Lies of P demands a mastery of guarding, dodging, and timing. The game favors ingenuity and tactical use of devices, such as throwing bombs or using items that confer electric properties upon a weapon. However, the combat also seems designed for aggressive gameplay. Pulse Cells, the game’s recovery item, can be restored with at least one charge by connecting several hits on the enemy, with Fable also recharged by attacking. If the player is hit when guarding, health is lost, but there’s a short timeframe to recover it by staying on the offensive. All in all, offense does prove to be the greatest defense, if not for some caveats, like the notoriously awkward camera that plays an influential role in jeopardizing the combat, especially when a giant hunk of a psychopathic doll is charging directly at P. Still, if one’s struggling against a boss, they can call aid from an AI-controlled specter at the cost of an item.
By the end of the preview, the P-Organ feature is unlocked. A sort of skill tree, the P-Organ is split into phases, and each one has four abilities. These abilities, in turn, have some slots that confer extra passive bonuses, such as increasing the attack of Fable Arts or decreasing the stamina reduced when guarding. After filling all slots, the ability in question is learned. Once a certain number of abilities are developed, the P-Organ unlocks the subsequent phase. This feature and many others are found in a room in Hotel Krat, a safe hub for P and NPC colleagues where players can learn more about the game’s lore while obtaining items and upgrades, as well as levelling up. In keeping with the game’s Pinnochio inspiration, the demo briefly showcases the “lie” feature twice but doesn’t provide enough information to show how it will impact the game in the long run.
While plenty of new games have tried to ride the trend of these punishing action RPGs, few have lived up to their forefathers. Its most appealing innovations lie in the Pinnochio-esque universe, the potential lying feature, and the aesthetic. The main challenge for the Lies of P is ensuring it doesn’t feel too much like the challenging action RPGs that have come before and that it builds an identity of its own. Players have the chance to get their initial impressions as the demo releases publically ahead of the game’s full release in August.
Disclosure: This article is based on a preview build of the game provided by the publisher.