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Lies of P review: a solid Pinocchio Soulslike with some strings attached

A robot holds Pinocchio in Lies of P.
Lies of P review: a solid Pinocchio Soulslike with some strings attached
MSRP $59.99
“Lies of P makes it clear that developer Neowiz has a deep appreciation and understanding for FromSoftware's games that goes beyond a surface-level copy.”
  • Strong atmosphere
  • Memorable enemy design
  • Offense is rewarded
  • Great customization options
  • Frustrating bosses
  • Underwhelming help systems
  • Co-op is missed

Ever since its release in 2015, I’ve been yearning for a sequel to FromSoftware’s excellent Bloodborne. Eight years later, Lies of P is the closest I’ve gotten to that dream – and that’s not what I expected from a game based on Pinocchio.

Lies of P is a classic Soulslike action RPG by developers Round8 and Neowiz that’s clearly inspired by the gothic aesthetic of Bloodborne. It’s as difficult, moody, and atmospheric as you’d expect considering that influence, but those aren’t the only ingredients that make FromSoftware games work as well as they do.

Though it may have the aesthetic down, Lies of P doesn’t always nail its combat flow, particularly in boss fights. Even with some missing pieces, the game’s strong monster designs, varied weapons, and some tight combat systems give it enough to stand out in a crowded field of Soulslikes, while also providing a sense of familiarity.

Standing apart from Bloodborne

As bizarre as it sounds, Lies of P’s story is inspired by The Adventures of Pinocchio and follows a humanoid puppet who travels through Krat to find his master, Geppetto. All of that happens as the city crumbles around him. Like most Soulslike games, the narrative is told in a rather cryptic manner, and it mostly feels more like a backdrop to the genre’s most important aspects: fierce combat and unsettling atmosphere.

Lies of P has great boss design

The Bloodborne comparisons are apparent right away; the central hub area, Hotel Krat, features a musical theme that even sounds like a fancier version of Hunter’s Dream from Bloodborne. But it’s that oddball Pinnochio setup that helps it stand on its own two feet. The inhabitants of its haunting world are largely inspired by that story, with Neowiz twisting characters and puppets into memorable, creepy NPCs. Hotel Krat’s reception agent, Polendina, is a puppet based on Geppetto who wears a yellow wig. There’s even an old lady sitting in a wheelchair that’s reminiscent of Gehrman, the First Hunter from Bloodborne. It’s all very weird, but undoubtedly unique.

Lies of P pairs that idea with a steampunk aesthetic that suits its strange world. The streets are filled with dashes of gothic buildings, lending the adventure a mysterious atmosphere that even standout Soulslikes like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty haven’t been able to capture as well as FromSoftware’s titles. It’s clear that developer Neowiz has a deep appreciation and understanding for the studio’s games that goes beyond a surface level copy.

That’s most apparent in some standout boss designs. The monsters here range from gross, organic creatures to menacing machines. Early on, I fought a disgusting fallen priest who merged with a spider that looked like something out of Elden Ring. In another fight, I faced off against an ironclad machine wielding fire – a battle that reminded me of one I’d fought in Nier: Automata. The breadth of different designs gives each battle its own distinct personality, making for an unpredictable rogues’ gallery that’s worthy of being slain.

Souls combat with strings attached

Lies of P’s action RPG combat feels like a perfect balance between Bloodborne’s fast-paced clashes and the defensive posturing of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. When blocking attacks, players still take damage at a reduced rate, but there’s an opportunity for them to regain lost health by striking immediately afterward. This mechanic rewards those who take some initiative in battle as opposed to hiding behind blocks. Like any Souls game, battles require skill and precision, but Neowiz builds in some helpful conveniences between those fights. The level design is rife with cleverly designed shortcuts that make it easy to navigate back to a tough boss after a death.

Those fights are unfortunately where Lies of P’s greatest flaw begins to reveal itself. Bosses attack entirely too fast, as it feels difficult to keep pace with a flurry of offensive attacks without being incredibly adept at perfect blocking. Deflecting at the last moment negates all damage and doesn’t eat up any stamina meter, so it’s a key strategy that needs to be mastered to get through some punishing fights. Those unforgiving boss fights make the skill ceiling feel that much higher when trying to nail down such an important maneuver.

Lies of P combat

When I’m on the offensive, I have to commit to my attacks. They can’t be canceled if a boss is about to strike and I don’t end up staggering it. I’d often run into situations where I’d lose that game of chicken, getting hit and staggered myself, which allowed my foe to follow up with another attack. For almost every single boss, I felt like I was fighting a fast-paced Bloodborne enemy with a Dark Souls slowpoke. That makes large weapons like greatswords feel unviable for the late-game bosses as they attack entirely too fast. I had to stick to lighter weapons for their shorter wind-down times, cutting down on my realistic options.

Several bosses also employ an annoying “two phases” strategy (like the infamous Guardian Ape from Sekiro). When you think you’ve overcome a boss after depleting all its health, you’re in for a surprise as it morphs into a new form for a second round. A few bosses having two phases can be a fun – and devilish – surprise, but Lies of P goes overboard.

Players can get a little help in battles, but those systems left me wanting more. Star Fragments, which are scattered around the world or dropped by enemies, allow me to summon an NPC to help during boss fights. It’s a nice idea for a helper system, but I often found I would burn through the consumables as I’d die so often to particularly punishing bosses. And that’s the only help I can get. There’s no multiplayer co-op like in Dark Souls or Elden Ring; Star Fragments are your only hope. That is, until you run out of them – and trust me, you will.

Build-A-Puppet Workshop

Though the combat isn’t as finely tuned as it could be, Lies of P has some useful customization options that add some variety to battles. For most weapons, I’m able to take apart both the blade and the hilt and mix and match each of them for different stats. Different parts can also give access to unique Fable Arts, which are powerful special attacks that can be unleashed when a Fable meter is full. It’s an extra touch that brings a little magic to the heavy hacking and blocking flow.

Lies of P customization

Additionally, the character’s left arm adds some surprising utility to combat. The Puppet String arm lets me grab enemies like a hookshot and pull them straight toward me, which is useful for separating enemies from a group and picking them off one by one. Another is Flamberge, which is essentially a flamethrower you can release on monsters. These arms bring an added layer of strategy that goes above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from the Soulslike genre at this point.

My favorite customization option, however, are the P-Organs. These act sort of like skill trees in an RPG. A consumable item, Quartz, allows me to equip certain attributes, such as sustaining lower damage while dodging and increasing the amount of Ergo (this game’s version of currency) earned from killing enemies. By linking these attributes together, I can unlock new abilities such as enabling another dodge while in the middle of my current dodge. All of these different customization options make me feel more engaged in Lies of P than I do in other games in the genre. Progression goes beyond just leveling up when I have enough Ergo to add a point to a stat; I feel like I’m more involved in my character’s growth. He’s a real boy, after all.

With its fascinating setting and atmosphere, as well as unique gameplay systems that twist the Soulslike formula, Lies of P is one of the most impressive takes on the genre to date. With some solid imitators in the genre like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Code Vein, and Nioh, Lies of P at the very least matches its contemporaries. It does have some glaring issues, though, especially how the game’s frustrating boss fights play out. Developer Neowiz still has some growing to do if it’s going to reach the same heights as the games it’s inspired by, but Lies of P is anything but wooden.

Lies of P was reviewed on Xbox Series X|S.

Editors' Recommendations

George Yang
George Yang is a freelance games writer for Digital Trends. He has written for places such as IGN, GameSpot, The Washington…
How to get every ending in Lies of P
Pinocchio in Lies of P.

It's no lie that Lies of P is one of the toughest games in the Soulslike genre. Every other puppet and creature in and around the city of Krat will want a piece of this version of Pinocchio, but something inside him is different. The ability to lie is one of the key gameplay and narrative mechanics of the game, and it presents you with many choices throughout the adventure. These aren't just placed there for flavor or as throwaway moments, as they can actually impact the story. Lies of P has three possible endings to get, but unless you're actively going for one, you will be hard-pressed to get them all. Aside from showing different events, some endings offer you some exclusive items that could make your next playthrough a bit easier. We'll guide your conscience to get all the endings in Lies of P.

Note: Spoilers ahead for the endings of Lies of P.
Real Boy: They Lived Happily Ever After ending

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The best Wishstones in Lies of P
lies of p preview gamescom 2022 statue

Whether it is a FromSoftware game or a title from another developer, like Lies of P, each entry in the Soulslike genre adds a few new mechanics to stand out and bring a new flavor to the formula. On the surface, you might expect the whole Pinocchio thing to be enough for this game to stand out, but the team took things a few steps further. Aside from a unique take on the weapons system and lore, Lies of P has special items called Wishstones that can grant you powerful buffs. These stones can only be obtained by trading Golden Coin Fruits with a specific NPC, and are consumed upon use. To make sure you're able to maximize the benefits, here are the best Wishstones you should be using in Lies of P.
The best Wishstones in Lies of P

There are a total of 13 possible Wishstones to get, but not all are immediately available. If you see some you can't get quite yet, keep playing until you beat the Black Rabbit Brotherhood. Once that's done, all Wishstones will be available for sale.Here are thebest ones:
Recovery Wishstone
This is the first Wishstone you can get and is one you will probably want to keep at all times. The function here is simple: to passively restore your health for a short amount of time. Since Pulse Charges are so valuable, and you will run out very fast while exploring new areas or fighting bosses, this is a fantastic backup healing option. You do still need to play carefully, and time it right to make the most of it, but more healing is always needed in Lies of P.
Friendship Wishstone
While Lies of P doesn't allow for co-op like some other soulslike games, it does still have a summoning system where you can bring in NPCs to help you take down the cast of challenging bosses. These summons are called Specters, who will do their best to help, but they typically don't last all that long in a fight. If you're willing to use a Wishstone slot, the Friendship Wishstone can keep your loyal companion in the fight longer by giving them a bit of healing.
Courage Wishstone
Fable Arts are your more powerful, weapon-specific moves that consume a part of your Fable Bar to use. This makes it so you can't simply spam your most powerful attacks all the time, but sometimes you need that extra damage output to ekeout a victory. The Courage Wishstone makes that Fable Bar recharge much faster, allowing you to unleash those powerful moves more often.
Frenzy Wishstone
Back on the Specter side of things, these helpers are lacking when it comes to survivability, so you might as well make them pack a stronger punch to pull their weight before getting crushed. This Frenzy Wishstone fires them up to deal more damage. They won't be able to solo a boss for you or anything, but in a game like this, every single point of damage can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Provocation Wishstone
What if you're feeling a little more ... cruel toward your Specter? There's no shame in it since they're only there to serve you, after all. With the Provocation Wishstone, you can put all the aggro onto your Specter, giving you some breathing room to heal, restore some Fable Arts, or just catch your breath. It also gives them a little defense buff so you don't have to feel too bad about it.
Explosive Wishstone
You might feel a little worse about using the Explosive Wishstone, however. Once activated, any time your unsuspecting Specter gets hit, they will explode and deal a nice chunk of damage to anything caught in the blast. If you're unsatisfied with what Specters can do for you normally, why not just turn them into a bomb?
Advance Wishstone
This Wishstone is the equivalent to the Courage Wishstone, only instead of boosting to your Fable bar, this one will help restore your Legion meter. Your various Legion arms are perhaps your greatest tool in Lies of P outside of your standard weaponry, but there's also a material cost. Unlike Fable, Legion does not replenish itself over time naturally and only comes back when you reach a Stargazer or use another consumable. You can bypass this limitation to get a few extra uses out of it with the Advance Wishstone, which gives you a little chunk back free of charge. This is best for builds that utilize Legion Arms more often, so it won't be a top pick for everyone.

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The best weapons in Lies of P
A robot holds Pinocchio in Lies of P.

This interpretation of the classic Pinocchio is nothing like the friendly (if a little creepy) original. Your puppet brought to life is sent out into a world of dangers around every corner, and only your weapons and reflexes will see you through. Lies of P is a Soulslike, after all, so finding and testing out new weapons is all part of the experience. That and dying, of course. Still, if you want to avoid doing the latter as much as possible, a strong weapon will come in handy. This game uses a system where you can customize your arsenal by swapping out the blades and handles, giving you tons of possibilities, but we'll focus on which weapons are the best out of the box in Lies of P and let you do the tweaking from there.
The best weapons in Lies of P

Puppet Saber
Because you can get the Puppet Saber right at the start of Lies of P, you might write it off as something that's only viable in the early game and should be dumped ASAP. That's not the case, as this fast-hitting sword can stay competitive at least until the midgame. It has a good range, is fast, and has a great charge attack you can use to zone enemies with. It scales at rank C in both Motivity and Technique, and comes with the fable art of Storm Slash, which unleashes a flurry of strikes on a target ahead of you. The other art it packs is Concentrate, which gives you a temporary attack buff.
Salamander Dagger
If you are going for a build focused on doing a lot of quick hits rather than long, heavy strikes, daggers like the Salamander Dagger are your best friend. This dagger's real advantage is that it deals fire damage, which many enemies are weak against. It scales at a B in Advance, C in Technique, and D in Motivity. It also has the Ignite ability to give it even more firepower (literally), and the guard ability of doing a fast stab before automatically retreating.
Booster Glaive
There aren't a ton of area-control weapons in Lies of P, which makes the Booster Glaive stand out as a unique pick. You get good range, and the arc on each swing is perfect for crowd control. In tighter, more linear spaces, you can use the charge attack for a forward thrust. This is a Technique weapon, scaling at B, but it also has D scaling in Motivity. It shares the Storm Slash skill with the Puppet Saber, but also has the Patient Slash, which lets you charge up one large, powerful strikes.
Acidic Crystal Spear
Despite the word "Spear" being in the weapon's name, the Acidic Crystal Spear technically falls under the Dagger category of weapons. Regardless, this has the looks, range, and feel of a spear. It can do fast, poking attacks, and will deal acid damage on each strike as well. You get great A-level scaling with Advance, as well as D level in Technique and Motivity. The Radiate art is just like the Salamander Dagger's Ignite, only for acid, and Single Stab is a more powerful forward lunge attack.
Two Dragons Sword
With a name like the Two Dragons Sword, who could resist at least trying this katana out? This boss weapon gives you all the flair and speed of a katana, but it unfortunately cannot be disassembled or modified. Still, with A scaling in Technique and D in Motivity, you won't be wanting for much with this blade. Your two skills are Link Emergency Dodge, which has you dodge forward and gives you the option to use a Fable slot to do two follow-up attacks, and Wind of Swords, which unleashes a torrent of swords in an area of effect.

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