Lies Of P Demo Impressions (PS5) – Everyone who has every played and loved Bloodborne has waited for one of two things, ideally both: a remaster/remake that at the bare minimum gets the game to run at 60fps, and two, a sequel.
Myself and every other Bloodborne fan are still left waiting for either of these things to happen, with rumours constantly circling that provide little comfort as every day an announcement doesn’t come makes it another sad day.
Enter into this sad world, Lies Of P – a game that definitely isn’t Bloodborne, but it’s also not-not Bloodborne. So much of Bloodborne’s DNA is apparent in Lies Of P, even just from the demo.
Thankfully, Lies Of P also seems to be doing enough to separate itself from its inspirations, with its own deep world for players to dig into, and a few changes from the Bloodborne/Souls formula that make it much less frustrating.
Lies Of P Demo Impressions (PS5) – Not Bloodborne, But Also Not-Not Bloodborne
The Puppet Hunt
Now when I said that Lies Of P does enough to separate itself, that comes from how well it leans into the Pinocchio-based focus. In many other ways however, it very much uses Bloodborne as a skeleton.
Replace the beasts for the mechanical puppets, the Hunt for the Puppet Frenzy, the Blood for Ergo. There’s even a Workshop faction said to be the ones helping to stop all the terrifying mechanical puppets from picking up anything they can swing at a human unfortunate enough to find themselves outside in Krat City.
Even its opening set pieces follow Bloodborne almost beat by beat, though it doesn’t exactly execute them to the same scale.
Your first puppet encounter still pales in comparison to meeting a terrifying wolf stretched to be three times your size, moving so quickly those unaccustomed to its ferocity quickly find themselves magnificently transported to the Hunter’s Dream.
Krat Hotel, which is the main base, complete even with a mysterious woman you need to talk to in order to level up, arrives only after you’ve felled the first boss, and while it’s still an excellent opening boss fight, it all doesn’t hit as hard as Bloodborne still does for me.
But it comes very, very close, and the more I play it, the more I’m excited to play the full game when it launches in September.
Faster Than Souls, Slower Than Bloodborne
Getting into the combat now, Lies Of P still draws from Bloodborne, but not in every sense. You begin with a choice of three different types of approaches, a balanced approach, a strength approach and a dexterity focused approached.
Though that’s just how you start, since Lies of P also sports RPG elements that allow you to change up your build of Pinocchio, depending on where you dedicate your skill points, that cost more Ergo to earn as you progress.
You’ll also need to make it back to where you died to regain your lost Ergo, though thankfully if you die to a boss, your lost Ergo isn’t locked in the boss room, it’ll appear just outside the door to the fight.
Not needing to farm Ergo independently of whatever you’ve earned currently locked in a boss room makes it far less frustrating if you get stuck on any bosses, as you’ll have ample opportunity to level up and return to the boss fight stronger than you were.
The moment-to-moment combat is slower than Bloodborne, but faster than you’d find in a Dark Souls title. You can parry attacks if you time it right, or guard and take minor damage.
You can also deal potentially fatal blows by taking advantage of an enemy getting “groggy” by delivering a charged heavy attack when they’re in that state.
And instead of a shotgun or pistol, you have your mechanical arm as your alternative weapon to the two you can hold in your right arm.
At first all you can do is deliver a solid punch, but you soon see how you can attach different accessories to your arm, to give you an upper hand in combat, like a sling to pull enemies toward you to catch them off guard or an arm that can deliver an electric blow.
Your left arm isn’t the only customizable part of your build, beyond stats. You can equip different defensive parts, and while it’s not as cool as trick weapons, you can disassemble and re-assemble weapons, combining different hilts and blades to create something more uniquely fitting to how you’d like to play.
All this works to create a combat experience that still plays similar to other popular action-RPGs, but is different enough that with a wider arrange of weapons and abilities provided in the full game, can feel like its own brand of Soulsborne combat.
I also quickly want to mention how healing works, because while it’s closer to Estus Flasks than Blood Vials, being able to regain at least one healing vial through combat keeps things closer to Bloodborne’s style of encouraging players to advance even when low on health to gain back what’s lost.
Consequently, Lies Of P also lets you regain some of your health lost from a failed guard attack by responding with attacks of your own immediately afterwards, just to make it that much more like Bloodborne.
What I will say though is that I’m very curious to see the full range of weapons and combat possibilities in Lies Of P, because it otherwise still feels like while you can customize plenty of combat aspects, you still mostly live and die by your parrying skills.
Leaning Into It
It’s truly impressive how well Lies Of P utilizes its puppetry foundations, and just how well the city of Krat, while still very much looking and feeling like a different side of Yharnam, feels like a labyrinth I want to be lost in.
I love how Lies Of P plays with the concept of lying, that you’ll need to decide between lying and telling the truth in certain situations as another way to weave your own story through the game’s narrative.
This is all without even mentioning the inclusion of classic Pinocchio characters in fresh ways like Gemini, your cricket guide and lamp light, who’ll even help you keep better track of side quests you can find throughout Krat.
The demo is clearly still just a small slice of the full game, which we can see from trailers includes more weapons, and enemies to defeat beyond puppets, though that was already made clear through a human boss you face midway through the demo.
I’ll be intrigued to see just how far Round 8 Studio goes with Lies Of P, and I’m already thankful that the demo has made clear that there’s much more to this game than it just being Bloodborne, but not Bloodborne.
Lies Of P will be available on PS5 on September 19, 2023, and you can check out the demo yourself, now.