Some gamers will tell you there’s no better feeling in the medium than overcoming a challenge. Whether that be speed-running, trophy hunting or toppling a formidable foe, video games are full of challenges with enough variety to accommodate most everyone. The rise of Soulsborne and Soulslike games in the past decade serve as the best example of this, with 2022’s Elden Ring acting as the catalyst to bringing rock solid difficulty gaming to the masses. Through its deep world building and varied, fun and complex yet accessible combat, Elden Ring demonstrated indisputably that fun can be had with challenging gameplay, regardless of your pre-existing difficulty preference when first beginning the game.

Now in 2023 there is a new game which perfectly mimics this formula, while also putting its own fresh spin on the idea, expertly toeing the line between superb and sycophancy: Lies of P.

Leaving aside Elden Ring’s open world aspect, predominantly because it would not work in Lies of P in any way whatsoever, the steady climb in challenge along with the regularly tense combat makes this an equally hard game to FromSoftware’s goliath. Favouring an interconnected linear experience akin to the Dark Souls trilogy, Lies of P is set across 11 areas which are closely linked but not freely explorable between. This has allowed the development teams at Neowiz and Round8 Studio to channel all their creativity into making its setting, the dark dense city of Krat, as imposing and intriguing as they want. The result is a city with an incredible amount of detail, that looks absolutely stunning no matter where you look.

The enemy design is top notch too, with creepy puppets stiffly lumbering around the city streets, sometimes dragging their weapons threateningly behind them, only to suddenly burst into unpredictable speed upon spotting you. The boss design in the game is also as memorable and intimidating as you could hope, with everything from enthusiastic clown puppets to ballroom filling monstrosities hell bent on tearing you limb from limb. It isn’t all puppet themed however, with plenty of bile spewing biological horrors to encounter throughout the game.

You play as the titular ‘P’, a puppet boy created by the genius resident inventor to Krat, Geppetto. Awakened by a mysterious voice inviting you to what will become the central hub for your adventure, Hotel Krat, P sets out to do as he’s told like a good boy and save Krat from its insane puppet infestation.

While Lies of P is certainly difficult, it represents a level of challenge I have always wanted from a Soulslike game. That exactly translates into ‘hard but fair’, which is what this game unquestionably is. I have not had a single death where I have been in any doubt over whether it was my fault, usually from either impatience, greed or panic induced stupidity. You will occasionally get jumped by random enemies or even mini-bosses in your time with the game, but provided you play with a degree of caution and don’t lumber as loudly as possible round every corner, you will always find your adversaries closely matched to your ability level for your current placement in Lies of P.

Thanks to the interconnected levels I referenced earlier, you will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that all story bosses I have encountered so far require less than 30 seconds each to get back to after any failed attempt to defeat them. I have been advised that by the end of the game, the longest ‘boss run back’ takes just shy of a minute, though with that boss being described by most YouTube videos ranking the game’s boss difficulty as one of the easiest of the second half.

I surprised myself when I defeated some bosses on my very first attempt, but of course was also stonewalled by others that many players report having minimal trouble with. King’s Flame Fuoco, a comparatively easy and predictable opponent took me the best part of an hour to finally get passed, while Fallen Archbishop Andreus folded in combat inside a couple of minutes to me on my first try. Such is the experience of a Soulslike game.

I can’t comment on the story first hand as I’m yet to finish it, though I will say that I really like what I have seen and watched. The set-up for what I hope is an inevitable sequel has me tremendously excited for the future of this franchise. Even if I never get passed where I am now, I will still 100% be picking up the second ‘ Lies of’ game immediately on release. Truth be told, I never expected to get as far as I have, and the time I have spent has absolutely flown by.

With plenty of secrets to find, gorgeous environments and accessible though savage gameplay, coupled with the fact Lies of P has been available from release day on Xbox Game Pass, there really is no reason to not try this game. The opening boss will either push you away forever or hook you on this excellent title, and I cannot emphasise more how much I think all players should try it.

I cannot review Lies of P as a complete experience, and while my usual gaming self yearns for an easy mode I know will never come, I have had a lot of fun with everything I have played here. I score Lies of P

8 / 10

Written and edited by Alexx.