Lies of P: Rise and Fall
A train compartment that looks as if a soccer team has once again been knocked over the ropes. A voice in my head encouraging me to move on. And a lot of questions, which I put on the back burner for the time being: Lies of P starts without big explanations, spectacular intro sequences or other frippery, but throws me directly into the action.
It fits perfectly that the game hands me one of three possible weapons at the end of the train, throws me out of the car and onto the asphalt of the station and says: “Come to the Hotel Krat, please, but be careful, a bunch of Mr. dolls are waiting for you on the way there. As is typical for the genre, gameplay is very important here. If the pure fun at the shredding isn’t enough, and you need further motivation, you can look forward to more story substance later on.
After I’ve turned the first boss into scrap metal, Lies of P gives me a bit more context for the streets overrun by bloodthirsty robots: In the course of industrialization and the introduction of dolls as housemaids, policemen or opera singers, the once peaceful fishing village of Krat developed into a pulsating metropolis in no time.
But the capitalist vision of fame and fortune turns into a real nightmare when the mechanical puppets go berserk for some unknown reason and attack their human makers. Although a second barrel is opened with a nasty petrifaction and a number of illustrious characters are introduced, the story stays pleasantly in the background.
Apart from the boss fights, there are hardly any cutscenes and even the occasional dialogues are much more pointed than, for example, the endless babble from the genre competitor Steelrising.
At first glance, of course, all this has little to do with the story of Pinocchio and indeed Lies of P is only very loosely based on the fable by Carlo Collodi. Nevertheless, the Italian author is thanked with a dedication and his many characters such as Pinocchio, Geppetto, Gemini, the black cat and the red fox are brought to life in the new interpretation.
Apart from that, especially the title-giving lies of the wooden doll play a role: Again and again I am confronted with decisions where I have to decide between lie and truth – even if the real consequences of this are hard to guess.
While my nose doesn’t change despite possible fairy tales, that of a portrait in the aforementioned hotel gets longer and longer, and the loading bar is also dedicated to Pinocchio’s long tine. The homage to the original captivates more through details than through a regurgitation of the original story.
Carved from wood, forged from steel
So that we can quickly get to the highs and lows of the combat system, here is the formal outline of the basics: As standard, your arsenal consists of light and heavy attacks, a dodge roll and a block, whereby the latter becomes the perfect block (better known as a parry) with the right timing, and all of the mentioned maneuvers take up your stamina bar – classic Souls fare, as we know it very well from From Software’s role models and the many imitations by now.
The left arm prosthesis called Legion, which is initially only equipped for fists, but can later also be used as a flamethrower or stun gun, adds a bit of fun. Your options in combat are rounded out by the so-called Fable attacks, which can be simplified as special attacks and depend on the weapon you’re carrying.
Also not an unusual feature for Soulslikes is the weapon durability, which plays a central role in Lies of P. Don’t worry: unlike The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, your current favorite sword won’t constantly break and need to be replaced with a new one. Nevertheless, your weapons will wear out much faster than you’re used to, which is why you’ll occasionally have to reach for the whetstone in the areas and longer boss fights.
A nice mechanic that gives you another task besides attacking, dodging, blocking and healing, making the game a bit more challenging especially in heated moments. And speaking of fresh ideas: Healing Trenches, here called Pulse Cells, are classically a finite resource that replenishes at checkpoints and after you die. However, if you’ve used up all your pulse cells, you can recharge one by repeatedly hitting it, which rewards aggressive play – a smart idea!
If the first boss can still be managed without completely exhausting the combat system, the second boss at the latest should be the end of the line for those who refuse to learn.
In any case, aggressive behavior is encouraged in Lies of P in several ways: If you block attacks but don’t parry them, a portion of the damage is color-coded in your life bar. If you hit now, you’ll get a portion of it credited back, similar to Bloodborne.
This also applies to your opponents to a certain extent, although the damage you deal to them is not replenished by dealing it, but starts to regenerate itself after a certain amount of time if you haven’t worked on their life bar for too long.