As soon as I plunged into the Lies of P demo, I found myself enveloped in an atmosphere that instantly struck a chord. It was a familiar tune, reminiscent of the chilling aura of Bloodborne, yet with an intriguing twist. The game’s setting, the city of Krat, bears a significant departure from the gloomy Victorian Gothic landscape of Yharnam. Instead, it draws from the architecturally rich period of 19th century France, sprinkling the game with a semblance of the Belle Epoque. The result is a city that, rather than being born from nightmares, seems to be a once shimmering hub of progress and hope, now battling a sinister rot from within.
Krat oozes with subtle yet potent cues of a civilization crumbling under its own weight, mirroring Bioshock’s Rapture or the cities from Arcane’s Dishonored and Deathloop. It’s not just a spectacle of decay initiated by a cataclysmic event, negligence, or foreign intrusion; it’s a tale of progress gone awry. A society’s ambitious reach that overstepped its grasp, painting a picture of decadence born from unchecked innovation. As I navigated the intriguing streets of Krat, I was left in anticipation of the full narrative unfolding come September 19.
Lies of P Demo: First Impressions
The world design in Lies of P walks a thin line between decadence and despair. On the one hand, Krat, the game’s setting, shows a world that was once vibrant with progress and innovation. It mirrors the optimism of the Belle Epoque period, a time of widespread optimism and cultural innovation. Yet beneath the surface, there’s an undercurrent of unchecked ambition and technological obsession that ultimately leads to its downfall.
The city’s physical and societal structures echo the promise of a brighter future, now turned into a bleak reminder of the devastation that blind ambition can wreak. The world’s layout tells a story of its own, with the dichotomy of towering, ambitious architecture and the unsettling emptiness serving as a testament to the city’s downfall. You can trace the narrative of progress turned sour, not through expositions but through the very bricks and mortar of Krat itself.
From the onset, the atmosphere in the Lies of P demo instills a haunting sense of decay and desolation. The game pulls no punches in showing that this once-great city is dying, its lifeblood ebbing away with each passing moment. But there’s a stark difference between Lies of P and other souls-like titles in its atmosphere’s orientation. In contrast to the fever dream-like qualities that underpin worlds like Bloodborne’s Yharnam, Krat’s decay is more grounded in reality, more human.
Through every alleyway, crumbling facade, and hollow gaze of its denizens, the game conveys a city on the brink, echoing the looming despair in the game’s atmosphere. This atmospheric dread subtly reminds players of their mission—to navigate the city’s maze-like underbelly, confront the city’s decaying horrors, and hopefully restore a semblance of order. The city’s languishing ambiance serves as the perfect backdrop for the tales of intrigue and horror set to unfold, laying the groundwork for the game’s story in a profoundly immersive manner.
The art direction in Lies of P is where the game truly comes into its own. There’s an almost tactile quality to the visuals in the game, grounding the fantastical horrors within the realm of possibility. The graphical performance is solid, and while it may not be pioneering next-gen aesthetics like Horizon Forbidden West, it boasts its distinct visual identity.
Drawing inspiration from the ornate and grand architecture of 19th-century France, the game presents a world both familiar and alien. The cityscape, reminiscent of Paris during the Belle Epoque, gives Krat an identity distinct from other Soulsborne-inspired titles. Each arch, spire, and bridge contributes to an overall image of a once-thriving hub of progress, now overrun by rot and decay.
The subtleties of sound design hold considerable influence on a game’s immersive qualities, often going unnoticed until the experience lacks its careful crafting. This is a slight hiccup in the Lies of P demo. The demo gives us a taste of the sound design that, while by no means poor, does not entirely augment the gaming experience as one might hope.
One of the most prominent components of sound design lies within the intricate details. The echo of dripping water, the ominous creak of an aged door, the rhythmic pattern of footsteps, or the mechanical whirring of intricate gears – each of these elements contributes to a more immersive gaming world. Additionally, sound can prove to be a handy tool in gameplay, providing cues to the player, and subtly conditioning their responses and strategies.
In many of these respects, Lies of P succeeds commendably. The grinding wheel on P’s arm, utilized to sharpen his weapons, provides a satisfyingly tactile audio experience. Similarly, the clatter of metal against metal, or the squelch of metal striking flesh, are all finely done. However, Lies of P could benefit from refining its auditory cues.
For instance, cues for ‘perfect deflects’ or the ‘groggy state’ could be more distinctive, echoing the standards set by FromSoftware in its games. Just as the chime in Bloodborne signals a successful blood bullet stagger, inviting the player for a visceral attack, or the specific metallic clank in Sekiro marking a perfect deflect, providing immediate feedback to the player. The sound effects present in the Lies of P demo are good, but the potential for improvement remains, especially in combat and feedback cues.
Taking a step further into the auditory landscape, the music in the Lies of P demo leaves a little to be desired. The score, or lack thereof, comes across as somewhat forgettable. And that’s somewhat disappointing given how vital music can be to a game’s overall impact.
My favorite boss fights often coincide with some of the most memorable soundtracks in video gaming history. Ludwig the Accursed/The Holy Blade from Bloodborne serves as an excellent example. This connection is no mere coincidence but a testament to the power of music in gaming. This is a triumph often overlooked in the FromSoft catalog, where soundtracks elevate the gameplay experience. Similarly, The Witcher 3 and its expansions, Cyberpunk 2077, Crypt of the Necrodancer, God of War: Ragnarok, Doom Eternal, and Cuphead all attest to the power of a well-crafted score.
The Lies of P demo does offer some atmospheric scores that blend with the ambiance. For instance, the score accompanying Hotel Krat is consistent with its surroundings. However, the music accompanying boss fights felt generic and underwhelming. This lapse into replication rather than originality was somewhat disheartening. With improvement, the music could further cement Lies of P as a unique experience, heavily influenced by Bloodborne yet forging its own path.
Lies of P’s gameplay has undoubtedly been heavily influenced by iconic titles such as Bloodborne and Sekiro. Yet, it manages to form its unique blend, amalgamating some of the best aspects of the games that inspired it. Indeed, Lies of P distinguishes itself through a system that encourages active defense and aggression, a mix of Bloodborne’s combat style with Sekiro’s guard and deflect system. Additionally, a skill system revealed at the end of the demo allows players to upgrade various skills, further enhancing and personalizing gameplay.
However, the game’s decision to omit a jump button limits mobility and the player’s combat toolbox, something games like Sekiro and Elden Ring managed to incorporate effectively. The game also suffers from slow loading times, with players having to bear two loading screens every time they wish to level up—an inconvenience hopefully addressed in the full release.
The mechanics in Lies of P add nuance to the gameplay, from the weapon durability mechanic to the innovative two-belt system for item management. Each weapon part, blade, and handle, can be removed, interchanged, and upgraded separately, allowing for numerous combinations, which influence the move set and scaling. Moreover, the game introduces a tool in the form of a grinding wheel, which players can use to restore weapon durability mid-battle, adding another layer of strategy.
However, the two-belt system initially feels less intuitive and may take some time for players to acclimate to. Furthermore, the cues for combat actions like perfect deflects or guards could use further clarity to provide better feedback to players. These minor drawbacks, if addressed, could lead to an even more satisfying gameplay experience.
The combat in Lies of P leans towards melee with bladed weapons, enriched by the incorporation of Fable Arts similar to the Weapon Arts from Dark Souls 3. These Arts are tied to specific weapon parts, with the handle and blade each having one. This system presents players with an array of offensive options and strategic depth.
In addition to the primary weapon and Fable Arts, P is equipped with a variety of Legion Arms. Each of these unique arm attachments provides an additional utility, from pulling opponents closer to dealing elemental damage, thus greatly diversifying combat possibilities. The demo promises further arms and upgrades in the full release, opening up more combat styles for players to experiment with.
Despite the wide variety of tools available, their utility varies, and the potential of some, like the Legion Arms, remains largely untapped. As players continue to experiment with these tools, they will likely find more ways to make combat more unique and customizable, catering to individual play styles.
In Lies of P, the demo provides a captivating glimpse into a world teeming with intricate rooftops, winding alleyways, and a blend of outdoor and indoor environments. This level design is reminiscent of the breathtaking game world seen in Bloodborne, albeit with a fresh spin. It features a system of stargazers, reminiscent of save points, that are well-spaced throughout the game world, along with cleverly planned shortcuts that echo Bloodborne’s innovative “Cannot be opened from this side” trope.
Although the level design in the demo does not reach the same complex tapestry that Central Yharnam offered, it does provide an enjoyable experience, akin to Dark Souls 3’s Cemetery of Ash or the original Dark Souls’ Undead Asylum. From what is seen so far, the level design is off to a promising start.
Like the level design, the enemy design in the Lies of P demo shows potential. The enemies encountered are mechanically animated puppets that use a variety of weapons and exhibit different attack patterns. The designers have carefully balanced their movements to be unpredictable yet decipherable, providing a thrilling challenge to the player.
Special and elite enemies, along with regular mobs, enhance the diversity of foes you face. There are also canine adversaries for an additional layer of difficulty. Although I will avoid spoilers regarding bosses and mini-bosses, their presence adds a dynamic, unexpected twist to the enemy roster.
However, the ease with which mobs can be defeated may be seen as a design flaw. A player can often defeat a mob with a flurry of attacks, stun-locking them before they can retaliate. The challenge that bosses present is starkly different. It would be rewarding to see the regular mobs better prepare players for the bosses, testing and teaching skills progressively.
As the gaming community eagerly awaits September 19th, it’s evident that Neowiz and Round 8 Studios could have one of the year’s most promising games with Lies of P. The game clearly takes inspiration from masterpieces like Bloodborne and Sekiro, but it’s far from a mere copy. Instead, it ingeniously melds elements from these games to forge its own identity.
While the influences are clear, Lies of P offers a unique take on the genre, with a more straightforward narrative and combat style that diverges from the familiar. It’s an ambitious venture that, although bears the risk of falling short of its illustrious influences, could equally give birth to an outstanding blend of the best aspects of these games.
Taking cues from the evolution from Dark Souls 2 to Elden Ring, a path of risk and innovation that eventually birthed one of the most acclaimed games of all time, we can only anticipate what Lies of P has in store for us. Indeed, the team behind Lies of P seems truly committed to making a meaningful contribution to the soulsborne genre, rather than merely cashing in on its popularity.
Regardless of the final outcome, the game is expected to be a noteworthy experience in its own right. At the very least, Lies of P should lay a solid foundation for Round 8 Studios to continue building upon, promising exciting future developments in the soulsborne genre.
Lies of P seems to be the homage to FromSoft that fans have been eagerly anticipating. Imagine taking the grim aesthetic of Bloodborne, the precision combat of Sekiro, blending it with the narrative depth of Bioshock, and injecting a sprinkling of modern AAA game skill trees. Now, frame this intricate concoction within a retelling of Pinocchio, but set in a post-apocalyptic Belle Epoque world. Having had a taste of this tantalizing mix through the demo, I can confidently say that it’s every bit as captivating as it sounds.