I had a really good time with Lies of P. It is mimicking a lot of things from the SoulsBorne canon but it plays the part extremely well and even has a few tricks of its own that make things interesting.

This game plays a bit like Bloodborne and a bit like Sekiro. It is very parry heavy, though I found the parrying to be not quite as forgiving (though also not quite as necessary) as in Sekiro. There is some Bloodborne in there as well though -- blocking temporarily costs life that you can regain by attacking, similar to the rally system.
Lies of P executes all of this extremely well. This is the first game in this genre that I have played that I would truly say plays as well as a From game does. The weapons feel heavy but responsive, attacks feel fair, and though the bosses are mostly pretty easy (especially if you summon help) many of them feel like they could fit into a souls game, in terms of abilities and strategy.
The similarities do end there, however, for better and worse.

Some of the systems are really cool. Weapons you find along your journey are split into blades and handles, which can be mixed and matched. The handle provides the moveset and stat scaling for the weapon. The blade provides the form factor and damage types. The system breaks down a little bit in that certain handles are usually going to be better for certain weapon types, so your choices are more limited than they seem. Additionally, the advance weapons (special damage type) only really scale with advance handles, so if you are going that route (as I was) you are even more limited. I liked playing with this system, but broader upgrades for the handles and more ability to feasibly form combinations would have gone a long way.
Similarly, equipment is streamlined to the point that it basically doesn't need to exist. You can make a few choices about status effect resistance or type damage resistance, but it feels perfunctory at best.
The damage types themselves felt good though. Acid, Fire, and Electricity each have some weapons and equipment that apply them and have special effects. Additionally they work better or worse on different enemy types, which I enjoyed. Swapping to a new weapon type when entering a new area based on the enemies I found there gave me a bit of a Monster Hunter flavor, with preparation having a larger part here than in other Soulslikes I have played.

The world design is a pretty big disappointment, unfortunately. There are a lot of cool environments with circuitous routes through them that make sense given the chaotic state of the city. Each area, however occurs in a strictly linear fashion. They unlock like chapters and you tackle them in order, only really returning for plot events that essentially turn previous areas into new levels. Lies of P has basically none of the exploration and self-determined area order that the best entries in the genre provide.
It does work ok with the very linear nature of the story and the journey that P is on here, but it just isn't as satisfying as it could be even though the levels themselves are fun to fight through. It is telling that this is a major negative to me, but most everything else about the game is strong enough to make up for it.

Lies of P has a premise that didn't initially appeal to me, but Neowiz leans so hard into the Pinocchio story that you have to respect it and things actually end up being pretty compelling. I really like all of the crossovers with the book and it was fun to see what was going to come up given that my knowledge of the story is vague at best. The world they explore here of alchemists and puppets with hidden agendas and opaque history ended up feeling very cool to me for most of my playthrough.

I liked this game a lot and will probably return to it for another playthrough at some point. Despite the lack of autonomy and choice for how to tackle things, the gameplay itself is so solid that things just feel really great. I am looking forward to DLC for the title and will be paying attention to whatever Neowiz comes out with next!

Reviewed on Feb 27, 2024