Review | lies or q – The children’s fairy tale by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi about a wooden doll that comes to life and goes on an adventure known to everyone. Even Pinocchio is going through a real resurrection these days. For example, Disney recently released the story as a live-action remake, and the animated version by Guillermo del Toro won an Oscar. Not only in the film industry, but also in games, Pinocchio is now back in the form of Lies of P. The game is of South Korean origin and puts a special twist on the classic story in this soul-like game. Here we see P – or Pinocchio – facing very different problems. In this review we tell you the hard truth about the end result without lies.
Cage, New Florence
The classic story is set in the Italian region of Florence, but renamed after the fictional city of Krat. This city was small until a mysterious group of alchemists came to the city and began extracting the rare metal Ergo. This metal contains a lot of power and its discovery ensured that Krat became a major city. With the help of chemistry and technology, mechanical dolls were developed to help humanity. All of these dolls are coded with the Grand Covenant in mind: a kind of security code that ensures people can never be harmed.
However, this does not go as hoped, because suddenly a mysterious madness begins to take hold among the puppets and they go completely crazy. Many residents were killed by servants, servants, cleaners and loyal mechanical soldiers. The world seems lost, but that’s where Pinocchio comes into play. Pinocchio is in a kind of sleep, he is left on the train and suddenly hears a whispering voice. This sound goes back to a blue butterfly touching Pinocchio and waking him up. He has to find out why the doll craze is happening. Pinocchio doesn’t know much anymore, but he is asked to search for his father, Geppetto. He helped create the dolls, including you, of course.
Lies of P’s story deviates significantly from the original story, but remains true to its inspiration at the same time. We see well-known characters passing by, like Geppetto of course, but the cat and the fox also return in a special way. It is a fascinating detail that Gemini – or Jiminy Cricket – acts as a kind of conscience and guide almost at first. Of course, many other characters are invented and Pinocchio eventually follows his own path in the game. Along the way, you are faced with many choices, as you always have the choice of truth or lie. If you tell the truth, you will still be a mechanical doll. If you lie, Pinocchio will start to act differently and will turn more and more human. This in turn affects the story, the characters you encounter, and even the environment. Puppets can’t lie, which makes Pinocchio unique. This allows him to feel emotions and interpret dialogues like no other. We won’t reveal anything else about the story, but we can say that it’s to the point and certainly fascinating, from start to finish.
Lie or die
Now that Crate is nothing but death and destruction, Pinocchio must be able to defend himself. Just like in many Soul-like games, you can create your own design and choose from three presets to start the adventure. For example, you can choose the Cricket build, which provides balanced Pinocchio stats, the Bastard build, which provides stats that allow you to be light on your feet, and finally the Sweeper build, which is good for dealing with heavy weapons and dealing a lot of damage with just a few hits. No matter what build you have, Pinocchio can perform quick attacks, land powerful blows, and of course dodge or block enemy attacks. You can also choose to counter attacks, much like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Blocking the attack loses some life from your life bar, but the perfect parry – parry – causes no damage. In fact, it damages the enemy’s weapon.
If you can perform a perfect parry too often during combat, there is a possibility that the enemy’s weapon will break. This ensures that enemy attacks deal less damage. If you get enough hits and make perfect saves often, the enemy’s health bar will flash white. A charge attack causes the enemy to be temporarily stunned and lose their defense. This opens up the possibility of a lethal attack, which deals a lot of damage. Timing the perfect save isn’t always easy, so you’ll be taking damage regularly. Don’t worry, because – just like in Bloodborne – you have the opportunity to regain some life by throwing punches. Aggression pays off in Lies of P and there are plenty of weapons to use during your adventure, pitting you against mechanical dolls, humans and monsters.
Disassemble and combine weapons
In terms of weapons, Neowiz has come up with a cool concept, which is that you can more or less combine all the weapons with each other. Each weapon consists of a blade and a hilt that you can combine with other variants. For example, a two-handed sledgehammer can suddenly become a hammer that you wield like a rapier. Do you want to use the spear as a dagger or vice versa? This is possible, because the choice is present in Lies of P and this gives a lot of freedom. The weapon’s hilt determines the combination of moves that make up your attacks, and you can upgrade the blade. There are also some unique weapons that cannot be dismantled and are often the most powerful. This is unfortunate, because it makes you less inclined to combine standard weapons.
Pinocchio also has a number of useful tools. For example, it is equipped with a mechanical left arm that is available in different variants and comes with different features. At first, you can only hit with the arm, which does a lot of damage, but then you get more options, like fire breathing or other useful tools. The mechanical arms that you can change into fixed locations in the game can only be used on a limited scale, as they are tied to what is called the Legion Scale. When used, this meter will decrease, and can be replenished with so-called Legion Magazines, which are consumables. The mechanical arm can also become a grappling hook, lay mines, or be used as a heavy cannon. Moreover Pinocchio can use Fable Arts, which can be found on every blade and hilt. This gives you gameplay enhancements, such as performing a series of combos, a weapon that scales for more damage or temporarily blocks incoming attacks perfectly. Using this is tied to your Fable Arts bar, which slowly charges up by landing blows.
Finally, Pinocchio can also be upgraded using the P organs, Pinocchio’s heart. Choices are key here, because you have to activate skills using quartz and this is a rare item that you will find limited. Here you can unlock abilities such as the ability to roll while lying on the ground, equip multiple mechanical arms at the same time or leave enemies dazed for longer, giving you more time to pull off a deadly attack. As you can see, you have many tools, skills, and abilities at your disposal. All this makes for large-scale combat. Moreover, there are many cool weapons available, which, as it were, complement the game and equip Pinocchio to the teeth, so that he can perform well in battle.
Gloomy environment with vivid characters
As we mentioned earlier, Pinocchio encounters a number of well-known characters on his way. Gepetto and Japie Krekel are present, but plenty of new characters also contribute to the unique story that Neowiz has created. For example, you have Sophia, a young woman who can turn collected Ergo – the equivalent of souls – into higher stats for Pinocchio. Or Eugenie, a blacksmith from another country who owes her life to a masked stalker – the organization that must kill the dolls driven to madness – named Alidoro. Many of these characters can be found at the Kratt Hotel, the safe haven in the city that Antonia leads. This woman was known for her beauty, but she became confined to a wheelchair due to a mysterious illness and marveled at a painting of hers. Each character has their own motivations for supporting or betraying Pinocchio. Hence, the backgrounds, stories, and quests of these characters are very interesting to follow.
It all happens in balls and it’s a very bleak city. The color palette used mainly consists of many dark colors and shades of grey, but certain areas offer good variety. For example, you have a marble opera house that looks well-maintained and uses beautiful, bright colors as decor. The Krat feels lively and warm, like some kind of dance hall from 17H last century, but outside you encounter an abandoned factory, dark caves filled with toxins, and an illegal doll dump. There’s a sombre atmosphere in Lies of P that feels authentic because of the presence of the characters, but also because of the many types of enemies you face. You will also find different factions, each with their own motivations for entering the balls. The parties, enemies, and characters present make the world lively.
In Lies of P you will face many types of enemies. Many of these are puppets such as servants, soldiers, maids, and more, but you’ll also encounter human enemies. These could be, for example, stalkers trying to survive or shadowy figures whose true nature only emerges later. Enemies vary in shapes and sizes. For example, one moment you’re fighting a simple mechanical soldier, and the next you’re faced with a fat mechanical clown throwing his spring gloves at you. Unique mini-bosses like giant robots, wild beasts, and more give Pinocchio plenty of problems to solve. The boss battles are fun to experience and can be very difficult at times. Lies of P is a very difficult game, and it regularly tests your skills, especially during boss fights.
Some technical issues
Lies of P has two graphical modes, Quality and Performance. In Quality mode, Lies of P runs at a native resolution of 1440p that can be upscaled to 4K and at a frame rate of 30fps. People with a 120Hz refresh rate on their displays can still turn on high frame rate mode, which bumps frames up to 40fps. Performance mode runs at native 1080p resolution, which is upscaled to 4K and runs at 60 frames per second. The graphical difference between the two is nothing and we therefore recommend the Performance mode, simply because it feels more responsive at 60 FPS, which is important in such games.
We noticed that the game often suffers from pop-ups while running and rotating quickly, which in turn causes stuttering. It takes away from the immersion of the experience somewhat which is a shame, because the atmosphere is very strong in Lies of P. This atmosphere is presented strongly not only through the environments and characters, but also through the excellent soundtrack. In Lies of P, for example, you can find gramophone recordings in quests, each one of which is unique and can be listened to in Hotel Krat. Like other Soulslike games, there’s only a little background music in the levels themselves, but the music returns in full force during boss fights. The sound design of the weapons is also of high quality, often making them sound very realistic. Think of the clanking of weapons, the creak of mechanical puppet joints and the beautiful sound effects when using lethal attacks and magical arts.
Played on: PlayStation 5.
Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series
“Lifelong zombie fanatic. Hardcore web practitioner. Thinker. Music expert. Unapologetic pop culture scholar.”