Created by Isaac Asimov, the Three Laws of Robotics clearly codified the subservience of machines to humans. Robots cannot harm humans or, through inaction, allow humans to come to harm. They must also obey and protect themselves as long as it doesn’t conflict with the earlier laws. But what if we were to add a fourth, more important rule? What if intelligent machines were forbidden to lie?
Developers of “Lies of P” seek answers to this question. Korean Neowiz Games has joined forces with Round8 Studio to present their version of the Pinocchio story to the world. However, instead of warm and charming Italian landscapes, we are presented with a less beautiful Belle Époque, based on French scenery from the turn of the century.
Krat, a city created based on French views from the turn of the century, has become an arena of grim and unsettling events. Marionettes created by Geppetto have gained self-awareness and, in their madness, have begun a bloody harvest among their recent masters. This time, Pinocchio will prove to be a good boy and will submit to his father’s will without hesitation. Furthermore, he will venture into the dark corners of the city to put an end to the spreading plague.
From the very first announcements, “Lies of P” evoked thoughts of From Software’s masterpieces. References to “Bloodborne” were obvious, and although it is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, doubts about the final result lingered in the back of my mind.
I was relieved to find that the developers put great effort into ensuring that their first serious work could stand proudly on its own.
From the first minutes in the game, I felt exceptionally comfortable. The controls felt familiar, as did the weapon handling. And no wonder, as I quickly realized that some animations had been directly lifted from “Bloodborne.”
Personally, I didn’t consider this a significant issue. Reinventing the wheel isn’t always necessary, and incorporating tested and functioning mechanics, in this case, brings more benefits than drawbacks to the game.
Our protagonist (bearing a striking resemblance to Timothee Chalamet) won’t become a real boy right away. Before that happens, he’ll have to use his robotic body to root out the evil infesting Krat. He’ll do this with the help of numerous weapons, each of which can be disassembled into two parts: blades and handles, which can be freely combined.
The developers promised players over a hundred combinations, which doesn’t lock us into a specific playstyle. A dagger can be attached to both a spear and the heavy components of large swords. Some of these combinations look comical, but who knows, maybe behind some of these experiments lie the deadliest crime tools. Weapons are also used for blocking, with the caveat that blocking simply reduces the damage received. Fortunately, successful attacks in a timely manner result in health regeneration. It’s definitely not worth using a hard block here; it’s better to go for the “Sekiro” approach and attempt to perform a perfect block and ruthlessly punish the stunned opponent.
And when traditional solutions fail, you can set your enemies on fire, shoot them in the face with a grenade, or condemn them to whatever else your mechanical hand allows. The fuel supply is quite limited, but in this world, there’s nothing that a slight boost in statistics can’t handle. We modify these statistics just like in FromSoftware games. However, I had the impression that there’s no room for error here. Every point is extremely precious, and I quickly started looking for ways to respec my character.
As of now, I haven’t found any, so I have to live with the burden of poorly made decisions. The game takes pleasure in delivering wave after wave of suffering. The relatively easy beginning transforms into a festival of pain, disbelief, and insults. The bosses are ruthless and dangerous, sometimes playing rather unfairly, and we feel like a meme-worthy puppy in a burning room. To make matters worse, encounters with minibosses and regular enemies, whose health bars go beyond the scale, are commonplace. Quietly, I hope that the balance will be fixed with the next patch, but for now, there’s nothing left for me to do but to “git gud.”
I was also greatly bothered by object collisions. Large monsters that wouldn’t normally fit through doors would magically squeeze through the frames after executing an attack. Not to mention attacking through doors. It also often happened that projectiles thrown by long-range enemies would adjust their range in flight and hit me after a proper dodge. But copying both the positives and negatives, right? Even the loading screens could work faster. In “Lies of P,” we will often move between locations, and staring at boring backgrounds for too long can break immersion.
It’s worth mentioning how detailed and credible the world you traverse is. The landscape, undergoing an industrial renaissance, is interspersed with more unsettling and eerie sights. On one hand, we have the glitter of cabarets, circuses, and theaters adorned with gold. On the other hand, there are dilapidated chapels and dungeons submerged in acid. Many of them conceal objects, secret passages, and even simple puzzles. Exploration is very rewarding and quite enjoyable.
I wondered for a long time how much the creators would draw from Carlo Collodi’s original novel and whether the story presented by them would meet my expectations. And although the game encourages our character to lie as much as possible, I have no intention of deceiving you, and I will admit quite honestly that every slightest reference to “Pinocchio” brought a smile to my face combined with amazement.
Aside from such obvious facts as the presence of Geppetto or Pinocchio, right from the beginning, we will encounter a boss clearly referencing the manager of the Great Puppet Theater. Mysterious figures dressed in fox and cat masks will observe our adventure, and in one of the corners of the city, we will encounter a hostile warrior reminiscent of the adventures of the donkey in the Land of Toys.
These are just a few references, and the game constantly reveals new borrowings from the Italian classic at every turn. By the way, I revisited the story of “Pinocchio” for the first time since elementary school, and I didn’t remember it being so brutal and sad.
“Lies of P” could have been a complete failure without its own identity. Fortunately, the transformation of the fairytale world of the wooden puppet into the garb of bloody tales from otherworldly realms works surprisingly well.
Those looking forward to the second part of “Bloodborne” and PC and Xbox players who have long awaited their equivalent of FromSoftware’s great hit should be pleased.