Lies of P preview: Bloodborne Anew
Lie or Die. This message issued to you by the game-over screen in Lies of P. It will hang over you like a dark cloud. It's an ominous substitute for the "You Died" in its clear inspiration of Bloodborne.
Lies of P draws the player further into the mysteries of the Soulsborne title that stretches across an alternate Victorian England, torn asunder by a cataclysm brought to life by legions of creaky and heaving puppets that shamble after you with a soulless rage.
There's plenty to explore here in Lies of P, and now that it has seen further illumination at Summer Game Fest, we finally get to peek behind the curtain at the strange title with its first demo. In equal parts, Lies of P has proven, and failed to prove, its existence.
What is Lies of P?
Take a look at Bloodborne, and you're at least three-quarters of the way to understanding Lies of P, and seemingly by design. You awake in a train carriage that has pulled into Krat Central Station, the first look at the Victorian playground of the game that is peppered with creaky, slumping, puppets who are after your blood.
It's up to you, Pinnochio, to find Geppetto and put an end to the madness that has wrought Krat - but it's going to take some time to figure out exactly how to do that. Lies of P gameplay is familiar.
It comes with a combat system that asks you to dedicate to your animations, perform some perfect blocks to counter or get the hell out of the way with sprints and dodge rolls. The inventory system, stamina bar, estus flask-esque health recovery - ultimately, you've seen Lies of P before.
Lies of P's familiarity goes right down to its demo's two ruthless bosses and mini-boss. That doesn't mean it can't design its own experience, though, with a compelling world derived from the tale of Pinnochio and a Groggy Foe system that, while confusing, aims to help differentiate it from its blatant peers.
Its aesthetics are familiar, but good God, they're stunning. Krat is a beautifully bleak post-apocalypse to play around with, offering a vaguely magical steampunk take on a small Germanic city dressed with monsters barely holding themselves together while hiding on every corner and over every bannister.
Grime and grit are at home here in Lies of P, and its snappy combat helps to accentuate a sense of adventure that never ceases, despite being troublesome to get a hold of if you're not familiar with its inspirations. But, though the game gives a good impression, there's something here that is yet to prove itself.
Why is Lies of P?
The grandest thing that sets Lies of P apart from the games that pioneered its styles is the mere fact that you're playing as Pinnochio on the hunt for Geppetto. It's a fascinating narrative twist on a formula we recognise.
In order to make this decision a valuable one, Lies of P has to prove that its choice to root its story in recognisability can service the game at large - and it's hard to be sure of it either way. Pinnochio is tough to recognise, as though Geppetto was building a rather inappropriate doll of Timothee Chalamet, but his appearance at all does raise questions.
We've already had a magical Victorian European Soulsborne (in fact, it takes up half of the real estate in the name of the genre itself), and we'd just as easily take yet another without being plastered with its fairytale sheen.
Plus, as its death screen would indicate, lying to NPCs is a direct mechanic of the game - but the demo doesn't offer much explanation as to what it actually does to the player. It's illumination that would certainly have been helpful to immerse the player not only in the game, but the idea that they're playing as a puppet at all.
Lies of P is exactly what you think it is - and that's a good thing
Despite confusion when it comes to its creative vision, everything else you'd want to see of Lies of P is present. Hell, it even makes some minor improvements on its peers' style, not leaving the world in the same place it once was after death, meaning you don't have to wait for elevators to come all the way back up before using them.
If you loved Bloodborne, there is absolutely no doubt you'll love Lies of P. Its combat is tight, its world is atmospheric, and though the backdrop isn't immediately sold to the player, there is a lot of potential for it to prove itself yet, as we only had the opportunity to topple two of the savage bosses in our preview.
Though the potential for becoming a new trendsetter has been waxed away by its similarities to Bloodborne, there is absolutely no doubt that those who are crying on Twitter for a remake will lap the game up.
Well, that's if they can wrap their heads around a game not developed directly by FromSoftware. Lies of P is constructed, oiled, and ready to fight - and that's no lie.