Lies of P is a game that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Made by South Korean team Round8 Studio, it feels like the product of a developer taking its second or even third swing at the Souls-like formula. It puts the majority of other titles inspired by Dark Souls to shame, yet the only other game to the name of Round8 Studio is an MMORPG called Bless Unleashed. How has a relatively unknown developer managed to top some of the industry's elite with better combat, extensive customisation, and quality presentation? Lies of P is a game that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but what's abundantly clear is it's something FromSoftware fans can't afford to miss.

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A passing glance at the title would likely draw comparisons to Bloodborne, and while it does use the same set dressing of Victorian London, Lies of P goes above and beyond to stand on its own two feet. By retelling the story of Pinocchio in a significantly darker manner as the city of Krat is gripped by an animatronic revolt, the game sets itself apart from virtually any other video game ever produced. Terrifying puppets roam the streets. Killer clowns are boss fights. Traditional children's toys become more of a nightmare than a source of joy.

It's a very unique direction to take, but it's one that pays off as the Timothée Chalamet knock-off of a main character battles between the stereotypes of a puppet and embracing the thoughts and feelings of a human. This internal struggle is presented to you as decisions to make throughout the game which lead to one of a few different endings. You can tell the truth, or lie and start working towards replacing your wooden limbs with real flesh.

With wind-up keys protruding out the backs of enemies and purposefully wooden animations to reflect the jerky movement of puppets, Round8 Studio fully commits to the aesthetic and doesn't miss a beat. It may have been the butt of a few jokes before release, but the design choices and inspirations of Lies of P make for a first-rate experience. Now you're not going to forget about "that puppet game" for all the right reasons.

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What's even more impressive is our compliments extend to the overall presentation. It's not boasting top-of-the-line visuals like a Naughty Dog title, but the game presents everything so immaculately at a rock-solid 60 frames-per-second. From the impressive opening credits cutscene to the satisfying on-screen animations when a boss is beaten, it's clear so much love and care has been put into perfecting even the most minute of details. It's a mystery how Round8 Studio has accomplished it, but Lies of P sports some breathtaking production values. Even the main menu updates with new background scenes to reflect where you are in the campaign — it's really pleasing stuff.

None of this would matter if the game wasn't actually fun to play, but it's backed by a good combat system and an even better suite of upgrades and customisation options. It's structured just like a typical FromSoftware experience prior to Elden Ring, with linear environments funnelling you through enemy encounters, items and secrets, and unlockable shortcuts to make future runs easier. You'll collect Ergo (Souls) to level up your character at Stargazers (Bonfires), and retreat to a home base at a hotel where various NPCs act as vendors, upgrade specialists, and quest givers.

Lies of P is at its most reserved when it's conforming to the basics of what it means to be a Souls-like. There are few surprises in the general gameplay loop; if you've played a FromSoftware game or any one of the many copycats, then the experience will feel like comfort food. To its benefit, though, the title has a few things to call its own to kill any Bloodborne rip-off claims.

With a weapon in your right hand, your left is interchangeable with Legion Arms granting you different abilities. You can kit your build out with anything from a flamethrower or a shield to armour-piercing bullets and landmines, all designed as a get-out clause for when the going gets really tough. They expand the possibilities of combat, offering up chances to chain damage from one hand to the other, delivering traditional sword slashes alongside an electric shock. They're all very satisfying to use, bettered by upgrades to make them even more viable during combat.

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Lies of P also offers the usual sort of weapon enhancements you'd expect out of a Souls-like (collecting oddly named upgrade materials) alongside the conventional levelling-up system to boost your vitality, stamina, and attack power. In addition, a P-Organ mechanic offers more significant upgrades. By collecting Quartz off powerful enemies or from special chests, you can tune your wooden body to have more Pulse Cell (your Estus Flask) uses, extend the timing windows of certain attacks, or let you equip more Amulets at once, among others.

Furthermore, most weapons come in two parts: its blade and then the handle. Using a vendor back at hotel Krat, you can mix and match swords, daggers, and greatswords by attaching their blades to different handles for different effects and abilities. It's a really neat spin on customisation, offering another layer from which to source a perfect build. Changing how your weapon swings and the sort of skills it has access to, you can come up with some interesting combinations to get a leg up on the enemy.

When you're consistently upgrading one thing or another throughout the 25-hour playthrough, you can really feel your character grow in strength to a satisfying degree. With new weapons with different playstyles and Fable Arts (special attacks) to experiment with, the game offers a fantastic amount of customisation and improvement options.

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The only issue is you'd need to grind out those upgrade systems a serious amount to avoid any of the mid-game difficulty spikes. Lies of P is maybe one step below a Dark Souls experience in terms of overall difficulty, making it a really good entry point if you wish to give the genre a try. That is until some excessively difficult boss encounters block your progress. You are able to summon in an AI companion to help out (there's no online co-op for teaming up with a friend), but even with some aid, one or two encounters feel unbalanced to the point of frustration. To be clear: they gave us more trouble than the final boss did.

Another area where the game can't quite match some of its peers is the level design. It's very linear, which is no bad thing in itself, but it gets to the point where new locations start to feel a bit too predictable. Upon reaching a new area, there'll always be one path through to the next mainline boss and then the odd side street with a chest or secret at the end. Indeed, this is how a lot of linear titles are structured, but it's so blatant in Lies of P that the experience very rarely surprises you with what might be around the corner. It makes exploring late-game areas a little dull beyond admiring the visual backdrops.

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You could increase the resolution for some better graphical splendour by selecting the game's Quality Mode, but this unlocks the framerate to where it'll hover anywhere between 30 and 60fps. The Performance Mode pretty much locks the title to the latter, making for an extremely smooth experience. While it's the best way to play Lies of P, a lack of haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support means you probably won't feel like you're getting everything possible out of the PS5 version.


Lies of P feels like the result of a developer having already taken multiple stabs at the Souls-like genre, so it's impressive that Round8 Studio has accomplished so much on its first attempt. By fully embracing its dark take on the Pinocchio story, it sets itself apart from anything else available. Elevating it above other games are quality combat and extensive, satisfying customisation, turning Lies of P into a first-class experience for FromSoftware fanatics.