The Soulslike subgenre of video games, named after the Darkish Souls sequence of obtuse hack-and-slashers by From Software program, are all the time punishingly tough. It’s their entire raison d’etre – or not less than that’s the accepted knowledge. Fiendish traps, lethal ambushes, terrifying bosses; what many titles within the discipline appear to miss is that Fromsoft’s issue is sort of all the time in service of lending an environment of dread, marvel and coherence. It’s a positive line. Hear whispers of a mad fallen monarch solely to beat them in your first strive, and all that cautious myth-making reveals itself as artifice. However should you sense the hand of a very sadistic designer weaving in synthetic issue, the world all of the sudden feels lifeless.
Enter Lies of P, a prolonged, moody motion RPG that may’t all the time resist issue, however with model, inventiveness, and an plain ardour for the Soulsborne legacy. This can be a far tougher sport than each Bloodborne and most of Elden Ring, but it surely’s additionally much more devoted to the soul of its inspirations than almost all of its subgenre mates. Wood? Often, but it surely’s obtained actual coronary heart.
You’ll doubtless be struck first by Lies of P’s funereal fairytale aesthetic, which is extra menacing than its Burton-esque boyband playable Pinocchio may let on. There’s a little bit of airbrushed sterility in each its human characters and later forays into physique horror, however the puppet enemies, environments, and scattered accounts of quixotic follies do a positive job establishing a latent sense of fairytale dread and whimsy. It’s additionally phenomenally scored, from sweeping boss themes to the melancholic grandeur of era-appropriate classical.
You spend the overwhelming majority of its runtime hitting murderous puppets with a choice of bladed objects, from rapiers to umbrellas, gargantuan sawblades to acidic spears. Lies of P’s fight feels slower than Bloodborne and Sekiro however sooner than Darkish Souls, with blocking and parrying taking level alongside the much less emphasised however nonetheless helpful sidesteps and dodge rolls. Swift responses reward a portion of the well being misplaced by way of blocking, and switchable prosthetics supply augments from exploding shields to flamethrowers. Better of all, most weapons might be dismantled into blades and handles reconfigured, combining your favorite moveset and attribute scaling together with your most popular pace and injury.
Exterior fight, Lies of P stands out in two areas: issues FromSoft does effectively that no different Soulslike till now has managed to tug off, and artistic tweaks to basic Fromsoft techniques and points. The previous entails mysterious NPC questlines, winding degree design by way of spectacular structure, in addition to genuinely creative “gotcha” moments, made all of the extra spectacular by the truth that Fromsoft themselves principally ran out of latest ambush and lure eventualities pre-Elden Ring. The latter consists of genius tweaks, not restricted to: misplaced souls from boss deaths; therapeutic objects recharging from enemy kills; and (gasp!) elevators that reset to their authentic place once you die so that you don’t have to face round ready for a elevate to Blighttown.
Does it cling to Bloodborne a bit too tightly? Completely. If you hear speak of a “stalker’s workshop”, it’s exhausting to not groan. There may be, in any case, a distinction between copying somebody’s homework and stealing it out of their bag. The primary time you encounter a poison swamp (sorry, corrupted water), you’ll marvel if total swathes of the backstory weren’t written simply to shoehorn in just a few Miyazaki specials. However it’s stated that “good artists borrow; nice artists steal” – if solely all mimicry was this well-executed. The boy could also be picket, however Lies of P is the true deal.