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Lies of P preview: Soulslike but not as we know it

Pinocchio hopes to offer something completely new to fans of the genre

The soulslike genre of challenging but rewarding gameplay has never particularly appealed to me even though I like difficulty in games. The closest I have ever gotten to beating a soulslike is Salt and Sanctuary, a game I love but is in my 2D comfort zone, and defeating Rodin in Bayonetta 3 without glitches, and before they introduced the patch to make it easier. Beating Rodin proves to me that I am capable of beating a soulslike, and despite this, I have never had the urge. I played a good amount of FromSoftware’s Dark Souls back in the day, but the world felt samey and uninteresting to me.

It’s on me that I haven’t really tried the genre since, and despite knowing that it isn’t a genre I gel with, Lies of P caught my attention. The steampunk setting was more interesting to me, and the lying system, which can lead to three different endings, is the “choices matter” hook that made me take a closer look. Getting a chance to play Lies of P, even for 30 minutes, let me see that it could be more approachable than other soulslike games. Getting between checkpoints and bosses isn’t too grueling, while still having the challenging and bombastic boss fights the genre is known for.

Lies of P Estella Opera House

This is very intentional. Lies of P held a demo earlier this year, and director Ji-Won Choi told me that a lot was changed following feedback from players. The opening section was made more approachable to ease players in better, and checkpoints were often moved closer to the bosses to ease player frustrations. A huge number of weapons, abilities, and upgrades are at players’ disposal. Instead of feeling like they are butting their heads against the wall, players can change their loadout and try again.

The main hook, Choi tells me, is that the protagonist is Pinocchio. Not only will fans recognize parts of the world and plot points from the popular children’s story, but with Pinocchio being a puppet, players have more options for gameplay. One of his arms is interchangeable, and can be swapped out with a number of different guns and weaponry. While Lies of P has the traditional soulslike control scheme, it feels incredibly fluid here, and the mix between fast and slow attacks create a kind of poetry.

Lies of P King of Puppets

I only got as far as one early game boss, and while I didn’t first try it, I could see the path forward and knew it was doable. This felt like a huge achievement to me as a soulslike novice, though I did take note of the fact that I had already been loaded out with a bunch of equipment to reduce damage and up my attack. Still I think easing players into the experience is important, and Lies of P appears to do that well.

If you’re a hardcore soulslike fan you’ll need to create your own level of difficulty here by restricting items or weapon types. Soulslike is known for not having difficulty settings and there is a lot more burden on the player to make things more difficult or easier for themselves. However, the fact that the team is openly looking at feedback is a positive first step allowing them to adjust the game according to what players want is an exceptionally powerful tool for success.

Lies of P Rosa Isabelle Street

Those who pick up Lies of P expecting just another soulslike probably won’t get what they want, but those who have tried other games in the genre and felt frustrated might be able to work with it far better than they expected. Having my loadout chosen for me before playing means that it could be more difficult than I felt it was, but all of those items and weapons are available to players should they go exploring. Despite our limited time with Lies of P we believe it could pleasantly surprise gamers, but we won’t find out until it launches on September 19, 2023.