There’s no shortage of Souls-likes vying for our attention, but only one can claim to put a dark and twisted spin on the everlasting story of Pinocchio. Developed by South Korean studio Neowiz Games, Lies of P presents a very loose retelling of Italian author Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. This grim reimagining, combined with a striking Belle Epoque-infused setting, ensures that Lies of P’s aesthetic stands apart from other Souls-likes, including From Software’s own. Bloodborne is still a clear inspiration, as its tonal atmosphere and combat design call to mind the cosmic horror masterpiece, leading to it feeling overly derivative at times. Still, Neowiz also implements just enough originality for Lies of P to eke out its own identity, even if it’s as thin as a puppet string.
The story sees you take on the role of P, a lifelike puppet who wakes up amidst the carnage of a puppet-led invasion of the fictional city of Krat. If you’re familiar with Pinocchio, you’ll likely recognize character names such as the puppet-maker Geppetto and the talking cricket Gemini. Their names are usually where the similarities end, however–either in relation to the book or any Disney-produced retellings. For one, Gemini isn’t an anthropomorphic insect but rather a tiny puppet caged in a lantern on P’s belt, acting as both a guide and source of light. Similarly, characters like the Fox, Cat, and Alidoro are reimagined as common criminals and thieves, who don their respective animal masks in order to achieve both anonymity and infamy.
It’s this unique take on a familiar tale that makes Lies of P such an intriguing proposition, so it’s hard not to feel disappointed when the story doesn’t kick into gear until close to its final act. For the most part, you’re tasked with visiting various locations where you’ll need to either rescue someone or defeat a specific enemy before returning to the game’s central hub. Without an overarching goal to propel you forward, it feels unfocused and only attains a sense of momentum in its final few hours once the antagonist reveals themself. There’s very little to latch onto before this point, outside of a curiosity to see where the narrative could potentially go. It’s not a case where the game is holding back and being intentionally opaque either. The story is predominantly told via expositional dumps and there’s little sense of mystery as a result. There are interesting moments dotted throughout but they’re fleeting, and I don’t think it’s too harsh to expect more considering the source material.
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