Lies of P is a 2023 action role-playing game developed by Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio and published by Neowiz. The story follows P, a puppet who traverses the fictional city of Krat, plagued by both an epidemic of petrification disease and a puppet uprising. Lies of P is played from a third-person perspective, with the player using melee weapons and a mechanical arm equipped with various tools to fight hostile puppets, factions, and citizens disfigured by the disease. Throughout the game, the player makes decisions at key plot points that affect the story.

Lies of P
Developer(s)
  • Neowiz Games
  • Round8 Studio
Publisher(s)Neowiz Games
Director(s)Choi Ji-won
Composer(s)Yeakun Yoo
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
Release
  • macOS, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • September 18, 2023
  • PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
  • September 19, 2023
Genre(s)Action role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

Round8, originally a mobile game developer, began working on the project to diversify its portfolio. The game draws inspiration from Carlo Collodi's 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, the Belle Époque period, and the soulslike genre. It was released for macOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in September 2023. Lies of P received favorable critical reception, with praise directed at its visuals, sound design, and performance, though opinions on its narrative and gameplay were mixed. It sold 1 million units by October 2023. The game was nominated for several year-end accolades, including The Game Awards and the Golden Joystick Awards, and appeared on numerous lists of the top video games of 2023. Round8 is currently developing downloadable content and a sequel.

Gameplay

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Lies of P is an action role-playing game played from a third-person perspective.[1][2] The player controls a silent[3] puppet referred to as P, who traverses the fictional city of Krat and fights hostile puppets, factions, and citizens disfigured by the petrification disease.[4] At the game's start, the player chooses one of three combat styles, which determines the character's attributes and initial weapons.[5] The player uses melee weapons and Legion Arms equipped with tools that include a grappling hook.[6][7] Every weapon, except for boss weapons, consists of a blade and a handle that can be upgraded and combined with other similar components.[8] Upon combining, the weapon gains a unique ability called Fable Arts, activated when the corresponding bar is filled up.[9] Weapon durability decreases during combat[10] and can be increased by grindstones, which also give weapons temporary power-ups.[11] The player can perform light and heavy attacks,[12] as well as parry or block enemy attacks. Parrying inflicts a staggering effect on the enemy and damages their weapon. Blocking causes P to lose a small amount of health, which is partially restored after a successful counterattack.[6][13][14]

The player acquires and upgrades weapons at Hotel Krat, which also provides access to other activities as the game progresses.[15] Items are purchased with in-game currency called Ergo,[16] also used to level up P by distributing it among vitality, vigor, and other attributes.[17] The game features a skill tree that gradually unlocks with Quartz obtained after defeating bosses and minibosses.[18] Skills have additional slots for passive bonuses.[19] After reaching a certain point in the story, the player can use Wishstones that grant temporary power-ups, such as increased damage and health regeneration.[20][21] The player can also equip Defense Parts that increase P's defense capabilities.[22][23] Before a boss fight, which usually has two phases,[6] the player can summon a spectre to provide support.[24] When the boss is defeated, the player receives a Rare Ergo crystal that can be exchanged for boss weapons or amulets with bonuses.[25]

Exploring Krat, the player encounters ringing phones that pose riddles. Correct answers reward the player with Trinity Keys, which unlock locations containing gear and resources.[26][27] The player can also find Cryptic Vessels, hidden locations with chests that offer various rewards,[28] as well as collectables.[29] Checkpoints called Stargazers are located throughout Krat and can be used to restore P's health and resources. Stargazers also serve as fast travel and respawn points.[30] Upon respawn, P loses Ergo, which is retrievable at the place of death.[12][31] However, each time P takes damage on the way back, the amount of recoverable Ergo decreases.[6]

Lies of P features a morality system that presents the player with limited-time options: tell the truth or lie. These decisions influence the plot's development, including the ending.[13][32] The player engages in conversations with non-player characters (NPCs) through a dialogue tree, uncovering additional information about the game world.[15][33] Certain NPCs offer side quests that reward the player with items like new weapons and resources.[34] P's appearance is customizable with outfits and masks found throughout the game.[3][35] After completing the main story campaign, New Game Plus becomes available, allowing for replay with gear and upgrades acquired from the previous playthrough.[36]

Synopsis

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Premise

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Lies of P takes place in the fictional city of Krat, where alchemists discovered Ergo, a mineral that powered advanced puppets created by Giuseppe Geppetto. Bound by the Grand Covenant to never harm humans, these puppets integrated into many aspects of life, transforming Krat into a thriving city.[4] Soon thereafter, a petrification disease swept through the city, slowly blinding its inhabitants, turning them to stone, and ultimately leading to their deaths.[37] As Krat crumbled, the puppets succumbed to a sudden phenomenon known as the Puppet Frenzy, which drove them to madness and led to a massacre of the city's population. Geppetto disappeared, leaving behind a puppet named P.[4]

Plot

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P awakens in an abandoned train at the Krat Central Station and hears the voice of a woman named Sophia asking him to come to a local hotel. There, Sophia instructs him to find Geppetto. P soon finds Geppetto and rescues him from a mercenary of the group known as the Stalkers. Geppetto asks P to find the inventor Lorenzini Venigni, with whom he once collaborated on the production of puppets. P rescues Lorenzini from his factory and goes to the cathedral, where refugees were hiding. On his way to and inside the cathedral, P fights Carcasses—citizens disfigured by the petrification disease who mutated in an unknown way. Sophia asks P to explore the Malum district, where the refugees are likely to have gone. In Malum, P again encounters Carcasses and discovers that the area is controlled by the Black Rabbit Brotherhood. With the help of two Stalkers, the Red Fox and Black Cat, P defeats one of the Brotherhood members. The other three bandits flee, promising revenge. At their base, P finds evidence of the Brotherhood's collaboration with alchemists.

Geppetto, suspecting the King of Puppets of causing the Puppet Frenzy, sends P to the opera house, the King's lair. After the King's defeat, another puppet emerges from its shell: Romeo, who also suffered from the petrification disease and acquired a new appearance after Geppetto's experiments. Trying to speak to P in a language he doesn't understand, they fight, and P ultimately kills Romeo. Geppetto, having met P near the opera house, sends him to the Great Exhibition, where, according to rumors, alchemists have invented a cure for the petrification disease. At the exhibition, P meets Simon Manus, the leader of the alchemists. Simon tells him that exposure to Ergo caused the disease and that the mutations, which he considers the next stage of human evolution, are a result of the alchemists' experiments with this mineral. Simon also explains that Ergo is the crystallized form of the human soul that forms after death, and invites P to the Isle of Alchemists.

To reach the Isle, P needs a Golden Ergo crystal, located in the Barren Swamp, to power the Lorenzini submarine. After obtaining the crystal, P receives a message from Sophia about an attack on the hotel. He returns to discover that the attack was carried out by the Brotherhood and the Red Fox and Black Cat, and that Geppetto has been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Lorenzini deciphers Romeo's message, which reveals that Geppetto, as the puppets' creator, initiated the Puppet Frenzy and has always controlled them. P heads to the submarine but is ambushed by the Brotherhood. He defeats them and departs for the Isle. On the shore, he encounters Sophia, who confesses to being a projection. Her real body, disfigured by Ergo, lies in the Isle tower after Simon exploited Sophia's ability to control Ergo, connecting her to a machine that spreads the petrification disease. Sophia reveals that she revived P so he could end her suffering.

After defeating Laxasia, Simon's henchman, P enters the tower. He finds the real Sophia and faces a choice: leave her alive or end her suffering. Later, P encounters the Red Fox and Black Cat, who either let him pass in exchange for a special coin or fight him. Eventually, P frees Geppetto, who tells him that Simon has gathered enough Ergo to activate a powerful relic called the Arm of God and achieve divine power. P climbs to the top of the tower and fights the mutated Simon. Victorious, P returns to Geppetto, who asks him to give him his heart to turn P into a real human.

  • If P agrees, he dies, and Geppetto uses his heart to revive another puppet based on his son Carlo, who had died from a petrification disease.[a] Geppetto then orders Carlo to kill survivors in the hotel and replaces them with puppet copies. Eventually, Geppetto leaves the hotel to "rebuild" the city for Carlo.
  • If P refuses, Geppetto activates the Nameless Puppet to take his heart by force. When Geppetto loses control of the puppet, it begins to act on its own and overpowers P, preparing to stab him in the heart. Geppetto rushes toward P, shielding him and sacrificing himself, which gives P a chance to destroy the puppet.

In the post-credits scene, Paracelsus, disguised as the merchant Giangio, reports the results of the "Krat experiment" to the woman on the phone, calling P "a new type of humanity." The woman points out that eternal life can take many forms, and they agree to continue their observations. Paracelsus expresses his intention to find another "key"—Dorothy. Back in Krat, a girl wearing ruby slippers appears on the rooftops and clicks her heels three times.

Development and release

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Lies of P was developed by Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio[38][39] led by Choi Ji-won. Round8 Studio, known for the free-to-play MMORPG Bless Unleashed (2020),[40] was founded in South Korea as a mobile game developer, but sought to pursue larger projects.[41] Together with Neowiz, known for games as a service, the companies saw Lies of P as an opportunity to diversify both their own portfolios and the South Korean video game industry in general, which is mostly focused on mobile games with microtransactions.[40][41] Development began around 2020.[41][42] Within two years, the team expanded from 60 to 100 people.[1][42]

The narrative was inspired by Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio,[43] which is in the public domain. Choi stated that the studio chose a story with this status to allow for creative expression within the soulsborne genre. Having an established story foundation early in development allowed the team to focus on their own interpretation and execution. The game was also influenced by the Belle Époque, a period in European history at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries marked by progress in science and technology. The developers considered this period unique due to its lack of representation in other games. Choi noted that during the prototyping phase, the team experimented with various European architectural styles, but the Belle Époque caught their attention with its combination of "romance, turmoil, cultural resurgence, and prosperity." These elements reflected the studio's intention to depict the transformation of Krat, the setting of Lies of P, from prosperity to decline. Choi added that the design was generally inspired by the developers' travels throughout Europe.[40]

The studio sought to create a dark and eerie atmosphere in the game, using the dynamic change of weather and time of day in particular. Choi stated that achieving this goal without compromising gameplay and performance was one of the most challenging tasks in the development process.[44] The team considered introducing an open world and multiplayer features, but ultimately decided against both. The decision to add soulslike elements was due to both fashion trends and the developers' personal passion for the genre.[40] The team sought to combine elements from other soulslike titles with their own mechanics.[45] The game was developed using Unreal Engine 4.[46] Marvelous Designer was used to create fabric textures for characters and backgrounds.[47] Although the game originally featured the Denuvo anti-tamper system, the developers removed it a few months after the game's release.[48] Composer Yeakun Yoo aimed for a soundtrack that was neither "overly flashy" nor monotonous. He sought to achieve this by using a limited number of melodies to create "ample yet uncomplicated" compositions.[38]

The game was announced in May 2021 with a debut trailer.[49] In June 2023, a demonstration was released as part of the Summer Game Fest.[50] That same month, a special edition with cosmetics and a collector's edition with physical and digital items such as an artbook and soundtrack were announced. Pre-orders launched simultaneously, offering cosmetics and, in the case of the special edition, granting early access to the game several days before its official release.[51] Development of Lies of P ceased by August as the game was submitted for manufacturing.[52] It was released on September 18 for macOS,[53] Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, with availability also on Xbox Game Pass. The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions were released on September 19.[54] In November, the soundtrack was released separately on streaming platforms such as Spotify as well as on Steam.[55] In February 2024, the developers released an update with new weapons and outfits as part of the crossover with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (2023).[56] Round8 is currently working on downloadable content and a sequel.[53]

Reception

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Critical response

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Lies of P received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic,[57][58][59] and 88% of critics recommended the game, according to OpenCritic.[60] It was praised for its visuals[3][64][69] and sound design,[6][8][67] performance,[14][35][69] and implementation of soulslike elements,[11][35][61] though critics were divided on its narrative[11][13][65] and gameplay.[6][66][70] Liam Croft of Push Square praised Lies of P as a "first-rate experience," applauding its presentation and production values.[66] George Yang of Digital Trends considered it "one of the most impressive" soulslike games released at the time,[61] while Richard Wakeling of GameSpot highlighted its originality and aesthetic compared to other games in the genre.[13] Some critics drew comparisons between aspects of Lies of P and FromSoftware titles like Bloodborne (2015),[65][69][71] with Wakeling suggesting that these similarities could make the game seem "overly derivative."[13] Sherif Saed of VG247 argued that Lies of P's overall design was a "pale imitation" of FromSoftware games and deemed it one of 2023's biggest disappointments.[68]

GamesRadar+'s Jasmine Gould-Wilson praised the narrative, particularly its interpretation of Carlo Collodi's original story, calling its elements "thoughtful and confluent."[63] Travis Northup of IGN noted that "of all the distressing and enigmatic stories I've seen in [the soulslike genre, Lies of P] is definitely among my favorites."[6] Diego Nicolás Argüello of Polygon lauded P's character development,[32] and Lincoln Carpenter of PC Gamer highlighted the dialogue.[64] Conversely, TJ Denzer of Shacknews wrote that P lacks a clear personality.[3] Finlay Cattanach of VideoGamer praised the atmosphere and immersive setting. While he found the narrative to be its weakest aspect, he acknowledged it was engaging enough to keep him interested.[11] GameSpot's Wakeling wrote that despite some intriguing plot points, the story felt vague and disappointing until the third act.[13]

Lauren Bergin of PCGamesN found the balance between game mechanics "genuinely impressive,"[65] while Push Square's Croft lauded both the combat system and skill tree.[66] Denzer of Shacknews particularly enjoyed the weapon combination system.[3] William Hughes of The A.V. Club appreciated the morality system and boss battles, though he noted a certain monotony in some of the encounters.[72] PC Gamer's Carpenter lauded P's customizable appearance,[64] and Kieran Harris of Gamereactor praised the level design.[70] Conversely, Eurogamer's Caelyn Ellis called the level design a "theme park facade" and the game's weakest element.[8] VG247's Saed felt the combat system was a "wasted potential" and relied too heavily on elements from other soulslike games. Additionally, he described the morality system as "perfunctory."[68] Rob Dwiar of TechRadar found the difficulty level to be inconsistent,[71] while Digital Trends' Yang criticized the implementation of boss battles.[61]

VideoGamer's Cattanach lauded the art design, particularly the characters.[11] Wesley LeBlanc of Game Informer commended the boss design, deeming it "highly memorable,"[35] a sentiment echoed by Yang of Digital Trends who wrote that this aspect "[gave] each battle its own distinct personality."[61] Ed Thorn of Rock Paper Shotgun praised the fluidity of P's combat animations, noting how they "flow into one another beautifully." He also praised the game's performance, particularly on Steam Deck, highlighting the smooth gameplay and visual quality despite the low graphics settings.[14] Conversely, VG247's Saed criticized some of the animations, calling them "infuriating."[68] GamesRadar+'s Gould-Wilson criticized the reuse of assets in different locations, believing that it detracted from the immersiveness.[63] Northup of IGN and Georgina Young of Sports Illustrated both mentioned encountering minor visual glitches.[6][69] Northup praised the soundtrack, stating that it "truly stands out" among other soulslike games and highlighting some of the songs as "just fantastic."[6]

Sales

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Following its release, Lies of P was the sixth-best-selling game on the Steam digital store.[73] In the United Kingdom, it was the third-best-selling game in physical sales chart in its opening weekend.[74] In September 2023, the game was the ninth-most-downloaded PlayStation 5 game in both North America and Europe.[75] In October, it dropped to fifteenth and nineteenth in these regions, respectively.[76] Within that same month, Lies of P sales reached 1 million units.[77]

Accolades

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Prior to its release, Lies of P earned several awards at Gamescom.[78] Following its release, the game received nominations for its visuals at both the Golden Joystick Awards[79] and The Game Awards, the latter also recognizing it in the Best Role Playing Game category.[80] Furthermore, its visuals garnered an honorable mention at the Game Developers Choice Awards.[81] Lies of P appeared on numerous lists of the top video games of 2023,[f] being ranked in sixth place by The Washington Post[88] and ninth place by Vulture.[89]

Award Date Category Result Ref.
The Game Awards December 7, 2023 Best Art Direction Nominated [80]
Best Role Playing Game Nominated
Game Developers Choice Awards March 20, 2024 Best Visual Art Honorable mention [81]
Gamescom Awards August 29, 2022 Best Action Adventure Game Won [78]
Best Role Playing Game Won
Most Wanted Sony PlayStation Game Won
Golden Joystick Awards November 20, 2023 Best Visual Design Nominated [79]
The Steam Awards January 2, 2024 Outstanding Story-Rich Game Nominated [90][91]

Notes

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  1. ^ Prior to the Puppet Frenzy, Geppetto discovered that puppets could develop human-like qualities. He planned to use the Arm of God to revive Carlo and modified Carlo's body and heart, enabling the latter to absorb Ergo. To gather the necessary amount of Ergo, Geppetto temporarily implanted Carlo's heart into P, who was not bound by the Covenant.[4]
  2. ^ Based on 68 scored reviews of 71 total reviews
  3. ^ Based on 39 scored reviews of 40 total reviews
  4. ^ Based on 25 scored reviews of 26 total reviews
  5. ^ Based on 143 reviews
  6. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[82][83][84][85][86][87]

References

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