Collodi’s novel comes to life in Lies of P, the new soulsike coming September 19, 2023 developed by the Koreans at Round8 Studio. A work that, from the first gameplay trailers, looked so much like a Bloodborne clone starring a steampunk version of Pinocchio – unofficially played by Timothée Chalamet – committed to finding Geppetto hunted down by other bloodthirsty super-advanced puppets. The latter, of which Geppetto himself is the creator, took control of the fictitious city of Krak after rebelling against man. It will be interesting to see how the rather well-known and overused narrative premise will fit into the Pinocchio fable however, at the moment, the verdict on the tale is more than positive.
The couple-hour demo of Lies of P (the second demo tried of the week after Final Fantasy XVI), available for download from the Steam, Playstation, and Xbox stores, gave me a glimpse of what will be waiting for me three months from now. The idea of facing a bloodbornelike again was quite challenging in itself, and yet, as I got to the end of the prologue, I feel I can tell you that it was not quite the comeback in a Yharnam alternative that I was expecting.
A bang of stuff in a two-hour demo
The two-hour demo of Lies of P is full of insights and brings several mechanics worthy of attention to the table. Chalamet, er I meant Pinocchio, moves nimbly and gracefully, a lethal dancer who can decide whether to start the adventure with the more classic strength, dexterity or quality builds (I opted for the latter). Setting foot on the streets of Krak, I began to continuously rotate the camera to admire the excellent work done on the settings, which were quite evocative and capable of creating a nice sense of devastation: man is dead, long live the machines.
Having reached the first fight with a policeman, I decide to defend myself by dodging with an eye always on the stamina bar: dash has a good range of invulnerability however, I do not remain entirely convinced that it is so convenient to use instead of parry. Second encounter, new strategy. In Lies of P you can parry blows – in a fixed guard position the output damage is very low – and, if you are a real pro, you can aim for parry, resetting the damage to zero. Do you also feel chills from Sekiro? Just like the Shinobi, in fact, Pinocchio can deflect any cartel with the right timing, unbalance his opponent, and strike back.
Nonetheless, do not expect to have it easy: the parry is not always accurate and gives the classic moments of disbelief of “gee I thought I parried at the right time“. Were you injured in an attempt to shield the bludgeon at the last second? No problem, attack to regain lost health, just as in Bloodborne. Beware, however: bosses also have their vitality restored if they are not defensively engaged, an interesting ploy to spur the player to always be aggressive and never stand still in place.
It is important, again with regard to the perfect parry, to take time to sense the rhythm of the blows, which vary from enemy to enemy, especially against the tougher ones, which often have combos of three to four attacks. Supporting it then is Pinocchio’s mechanical arm, equipped with the most sophisticated technology (modifiable with numerous gadgets) that can become a grappling hook when needed, drawing mobs toward our position while also reducing their life bar.
The Organ of Lies of P
To defend himself, in my humble opinion, it will be necessary to strike the right balance between dodges and parries waiting to dig even deeper into the gameplay devised by Round8 Studio: at the end of the demo, Geppetto introduces me to the Organ-P, the source of power through which to unlock Pinocchio’s latent abilities in exchange for the Quartzes we obtain during the adventure. For example, Pinocchio can concatenate two consecutive dodges or increase the stun time after the perfect parry. It is thus apparent how the fighting style will be in the making for at least the first half of the adventure, when we will have revealed much of Timothée Chalamet’s skill tree.
The other point I want to focus on is Krak’s level design. For now, the maps are rather linear with the classic interconnected roads that lead back to the starting point through shortcuts to be opened once the road is cleared. A level construction that reminded me very closely of Steelrising by Spiders studio.
There is no shortage of moments of walking over rooftopsand a few hidden enemies in Miyazaki fashion, ready to surprise you when you least expect it. Regarding puppets, their behavioral patterns are still an unknown: sometimes they notice your presence, sometimes they do not. Also, they do not chase you for thousands of miles and are incapable of climbing any ladder. As a result, in case of game over, it is rather easy to avoid them in order to quickly reach the point of death and move on.
I might also mention thatwe can combine weapons with each other and that our sword has broken several times but thanks to a handy tool provided by Pinocchio, we can sharpen it again: never be caught unprepared before the boss fight! In short, this demo of Lies of P successfully succeeds in its intent (also to be understood is the lie system if and how it will affect the evolution of the story): to get your hype up ahead of September. The potential is there, some flaws will surely be filed down, others will remain, and yet, I am pretty sure the game will turn out to be a decent bowler.