When Lies of P was first revealed in 2021, almost everyone compared it to Bloodborne. It was easy to see why, as the dark, terrifying streets of Krat bore more than a few similarities to the blood-covered streets of Yharnam. Its inspirations are clear from the get-go, but emulating a game as revered and beloved as Bloodborne would always risk setting expectations far too high. Thankfully, Lies of P is well on its way to being a great spiritual successor that probably won’t reach the heights of its inspiration, but will scratch the itch Bloodborne fans have had for quite some time.
Fans of soullike games will immediately recognize Lies of P, which has all the same features as the games before it. Stargazers work like Bonfires, you collect upgrade resources called Ergo from slain enemies, you can throw yourself into a tough boss fight at the end of each area, and the city of Krat is full of secrets to find and shortcuts to unlock. . It does very little to differentiate itself in this regard, content to try to wrap its aesthetic and story around existing mechanics that have been refined by others over the years.
Instead, Lies of P sets out to mine the essentials of a soul-like experience, and it achieves its goal in the introductory areas. Each location is cleverly designed, with real thought given to variety and enemy placement. Constantly backtrack to unlock shortcuts that are much more common than in your standard soulslike. However, this makes exploration much more rewarding, and gives the developers the option to add a few more tricky encounters. If you run into an enemy that absolutely hits you and drains your healing items, chances are there’s a shortcut forward that allows you to bypass them completely.
Combat is fast-paced, with more emphasis on well-timed dodges rather than blocks. The parry system is in place, but the time to perform a perfect parry (the only way to block that completely negates damage) is extremely difficult. You can recover the health lost from blocking by quickly attacking your opponent, but it’s usually safer and more practical to time your dodges and roll out of the way of incoming attacks. Like everything else in Lies of P, it works very similarly to Bloodborne, but it does a very good job of trying to recreate the same kind of fast-paced, satisfying combat system.
Although Lies of P doesn’t stray far from the mental comfort zone, it does have small touches of originality. When you die and lose your Ergo, the stack you leave behind will decrease based on how many times you were hit trying to retrieve it. It’s not the biggest change, but it adds a lot more tension as you make your way back through the area. Likewise, your weapon will degrade fairly quickly, reducing your damage as it degrades. However, your character is equipped with a mini belt grinder so you can repair it on the fly and even mid-fight. It’s something extra to manage that requires a bit of thought and fits nicely with the flow of the game.
One big gimmick of Lies of P that sets it apart is the morality system, as you have the option to either tell the truth to the people you meet or lie to them to protect yourself. It’s a bit hard to gauge what impact this has on your character or overall story in the first few hours, mainly because the choices you’re presented with are relatively inconsequential. It’s a system that shows promise, and the soulslike that changes based on how dishonest you are is extremely interesting, to the point that it will be a little disappointing if it all affects the final outcome of the game. Even if it’s just different enemy types or side quests, soulslike with a morale system has a ton of potential and I hope the game makes the most of it.
P’s lies fall flat the most in their story. His combat is satisfying, and the boss fights are glorious and explosive, but the first few hours of the game consist of going to a place, rescuing a person, and then returning to the central hub. There’s no main goal to aim for other than survival in a town full of dolls, and it lacks the sense of mystery that makes other games of this genre so appealing. It sprinkles interesting bits of lore in the form of notes throughout each location, and there’s always the possibility that the story just takes a while to get going, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m not optimistic.
If Lies of P can maintain the level of polish and quality it set in its first few hours throughout its run, then I think it will surprise a lot of people. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and wears its inspirations on its sleeve, but it has the potential to be a very enjoyable soul with a few little twists.
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