Lies Of P Is The Best Non-FromSoftware Souls-Like Game I’ve Ever Played

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Story Highlights

  • Lies of P portrays a proper understanding of the souls-like genre and is an honest attempt to capture the essence rather than just emulating FromSoftware to find success.
  • One of the things that stand out the most in Lies of P is the optimization of the demo, world design, and responsive combat. Features you seldom find in most souls-like clones.
  • While there’s a lot to praise, Lies of P has some areas that need more polish, especially the enemy AI.

In 2021, Neowiz announced a souls-like game inspired by the classic children’s fantasy novel, Pinnochio, in a dark and gritty trailer that was extremely captivating. Fast forward to 2023, and it’s hard to believe that Lies of P will hit the shelves in September. Round 8 Studio is hard at work to ensure this new adventure ends up being a success and if the demo is indicative of the final product, the future’s looking bright.

It was a bit of a shock for me to learn that the people who worked on Bless Unleashed are the same people who’re about to deliver the most authentic souls-like experience after FromSoftware. After showcasing a fantastic trailer at this year’s lukewarm Summer Games Fest, Round 8 released a demo version for Lies of P and allowed players to experience what it’s like firsthand.

While it’s clear that Lies of P draws inspiration from FromSoftware’s Soulsborne games, most notably Bloodborne & Sekiro, it also looks at the wider genre. Given how much it has in common with Bloodborne and other Soulsborne games in general, I was under the impression that Round 8 wouldn’t quite create something that could stand on its own. After playing the demo, I’m positive it won’t be walking in Bloodborne’s shadow.

I got a proper understanding of what’s being offered thanks to the generous amount of content in the demo. However, while there are a lot of things to praise, there are things that need to be worked on as well. Lies of P is shaping up to be a fantastic game and if the final product addresses even a few of these issues, it’s going to go even further beyond.

Lies Of P Understands The Essence Of A Souls-Like

Making a souls-like game isn’t about throwing in a stamina bar along with enemies and bosses that kill you in two hits. It’s about putting the player in a meticulously crafted world with rich lore, minimal handholding, and a fair yet gargantuan challenge born from having faith in a player’s ability. Feel free to call this an exaggeration but it’s a form of art.

Lies of P understands this and the demo makes it clear as day. Can’t believe I’m saying this but the core gameplay has no jank whatsoever. Something that was blatantly obvious in Thymesia and Mortal Shell from the get-go. Combat is responsive and the guarding system elevates the overall gameplay. It’s not often talked about the sound effects do a lot to elevate the experience and that’s present in this package.

The city of Krat featured in the demo of Lies of P features consistent design and high-quality ambience.
The city of Krat featured in the demo of Lies of P features consistent design and high-quality ambience.

Another thing is the world we’re in. I don’t want to be that guy but as far as souls-like games are concerned, no developer has managed to replicate the art of crafting worlds like FromSoftware. Feel free to disagree but I’m inclined to say this is more of a fact than opinion. There may be a souls-like that does a good job but I haven’t played it so I don’t know. What I do know is that Bleak Faith: Forsaken showed promise but fell flat on its face.

Meanwhile, Lies of P appears to have understood what it takes to create a world. From what I’ve seen in gameplay demonstrations and the demo itself, the overall world design and aesthetic is highly impressive. It evokes the feeling of wanting to explore and find out what’s around the corner. The city of Krat alone had me shaking with excitement and I just can’t wait for September to see what else this game can offer. 

And of course, excitement can be killed within a second due to bad optimization. I have no clue how old this demo build is but it was optimized for real. Lies of P is being developed in Unreal Engine 4, an engine that’s closely associated with causing an unusual stutter issue among other problems. Not to mention the complacency of most modern-day developers that butcher performance despite taking years to make a game.

After a phenomenal streak of utterly disappointing launches this year with the likes of Forspoken, Hogwarts Legacy, Redfall, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Wild Hearts, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, and The Last of Us Part 1, it’s reassuring to see a game that may well end up joining the better games of 2023. The competition is tough for Lies of P but I’m sure pushing the game for a September release will refine it even more.

Combat in Lies of P is responsive, fluid, and features separate key bindings for guard and dodge.
Combat in Lies of P is responsive, fluid, and features separate key bindings for guard and dodge.

Next up is the default control scheme of Lies of P. Team Ninja made the dumb decision of tying parry and dodge to a single button in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Not only did it impact the experience, but it also added unnecessary jank to a combat system that was already struggling to flow. Lies of P has dodge and guard bound to separate keys so we should praise the devs for following the proper standard.

I was also glad to see that Lies of P offers a measure of leniency considering this is a souls-like game and it will be difficult. This comes in the form of being able to charge up your Pulse Cell by 1 once you’ve used up all charges. A simple thing at first glance but its value is anything but. After Elden Ring‘s more active approach in the form of Spirit Ashes, this seems to be a nice change of pace.

Ergo, the currency or souls in Lies of P are lost upon death in a traditional souls-like fashion. However, most games don’t make the effort to streamline the process of getting them back. If you die during a boss fight, your Ergo will coalesce into this blob that will appear in front of the fog door. Having this feature right off the bat is something you don’t see too often. 

Aside from all that, the sharpening system to restore weapon durability, voice acting, lack of artificial difficulty in boss fights due to forced delays, and the personalized touch on loading screens add more to the identity of Lies of P. Something I’m sure it’ll need if it wants to step out of FromSoftware’s shadow.

But even with all the good it does, I do believe there are some issues that Round 8 should fix before Lies of P arrives on our systems.

Things That Need More Work

One issue that’s fairly common in any souls-like game is the enemy variety. Lies of P is all about puppets and we’ve seen some other types of monsters as well but I believe it’s not enough. The demo was rather disappointing in this department but since it’s a demo, I decided to look forward to the full release. Hopefully, this isn’t indicative of the variety or lack thereof in the final product.

I talked about how Lies of P offers a fluid combat system that doesn’t have any jank in it. That’s true & it’s really satisfying but there’s a problem. There are no jumping attacks here and I’m not sure if it’s an ability we’ll unlock later in the full game or if it’s just not present. This is a bit of a preference but I can see it being circumvented by Legion Arms as they’ll have a wide range of features that may make up for not having a jump attack.

The demo version of Lies of P had more variety in its boss fights while the standard enemies lacked such variations.
The demo version of Lies of P had more variety in its boss fights while the standard enemies lacked such variations.

And that brings me to another combat-related issue. Fury Attacks can’t be dodged or guarded. When the enemy glows, you have to perfect guard or else you’re done. Just to clarify, this doesn’t impede the experience but it’s a bad design choice. They should limit the guard to a perfect guard but allow players to dodge as well. It would give more options to the player and lessen the amount of pressure as well.

Another weird design choice is how the weapon damage scales with your durability. As the durability gets lower, your weapon’s damage decreases. I didn’t test it in the game but the way it’s phrased, this is the only way to interpret it. It’s logical, yes, but logic doesn’t have a place in video games because that can detract from the experience. 

Similar to Sekiro, Lies of P will not feature multiplayer based on what I can see on the official pages. While you can summon a specter to help you against bosses, you can’t cooperate with friends and other players online. It’s sad but I understand the decision. It goes without saying that a functional online system would require more time in the oven. Whether it arrives in the future or not, it’s fine as long as the core experience is solid.

I know this other problem is probably going to stick around but the runback to bosses is kind of scuffed. It would be nice if it’s not like this for every boss in Lies of P but the ones in the demo were annoying. Not only were the Stargazers far from the fog door but the path had tons of enemies. Normally that may not have been much of a problem but this is where my last point comes in—inconsistent enemy AI.

Not sure if this is a choice or not but the AI appears to be far from optimal. Approaching one from the back while walking often alerts the enemy and they instantly start slashing at you. Other times, you can just walk past them and nothing happens. This is just straight-up bad and hopefully, it’ll be fixed in the full game. On the off chance that it isn’t, we’ll just have to bear it.

Despite The Issues, Lies Of P Is On The Right Path

Nothing is perfect and even FromSoftware’s titles had their share of problems. Lies of P is like any other game and ultimately, what matters most is the core essence. As long as there’s a good game in there, people will love it. And it’s because of this appreciation and love that they criticize it so that it can improve. Granted, not all criticism is like that but the point still stands.

These next few months are honestly packed with a ton of phenomenal games and I just can’t wait to dive into them. My backlog continues to weep with each passing month.

Lies of P is set for launch on September 19, 2023, for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Game Pass, PC, and last-gen consoles

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