You’ve seen the comparisons before, but it’s impossible to deny there’s more than a likeness between Lies of P and FromSoftware bangers like Bloodborne and Sekiro. There’s the obvious stuff like the perspective, UI, lock-on effect, weighty melee combat, ‘you died’ style death screen, parrying, and dingy urban world, but that barely scratches the surface.
The pace of exploration is classic FromSoftware. Turn down a dimly lit street and you’ll spot an apparently dead soldier at the end. As you approach a dog appears from behind a carriage, snarling with its first few paces towards you. Just as you begin trading blows with the hound you hear another soldier coming from where you entered the alleyway, and as you turn you notice the soldier that was prone at the end of the alley is now on its feet and shambling your way. Figuring out the best order, attack patterns, and counters for this trio takes a few attempts, and it takes a few more runs before I can squeeze past with enough health to make subsequent fights worth attempting.
This alleyway seems very Bloodborne, but to Round8’s credit the rest of the level looks distinctly Belle Époque. While the grimy, festering aesthetic of Bloodborne’s Yharnam calls to mind the host of health epidemics that struck Victorian-era London, Lies of P’s city setting of Krat is packed with Art Nouveau flourishes and grandiose facades – this looks every bit like a European ‘golden age’ metropolis.
The hordes of clockwork soldiers also help sell the other side of this setting: a dark fantasy twist on the fairytale-like story of Pinocchio. The animatronic theme manifests in the awkward, lurching movement of enemies, but – because you play as a mechanoid version of the mendacious marionette – it also shapes what kind of Pinocchio you play as. Customisation is very literal: weapons can be fused together from different components to form unique combinations, and you can replace one arm with a variety of different gadgets to suit whatever situation you’re heading into.
These arm-based gadgets (called Legion Arms) are about as direct a nod as you can make to the prosthetic customisation in Sekiro. I start the hands-on with a grapple hook Legion Arm, and while I can’t use it to soar between rooftops, I can aim it at distant enemies and pull them into range, which makes the Souls-like gankings a little easier to navigate. After coming up against a few particularly aggressive dogs I swap out to the flamethrower attachment, which I quickly discover is extremely effective at staggering animal-like mechs.
There’s no chance to check them all out during the hands-on, but a quick scan of the menus reveals other Legion Arms like a hand cannon, iron fist, and some kind of electrical charge. While your main weapon is still the dominant force in all fights, the arm gadget gives you a ton of flexibility in how you take each fight – defensive or aggressive, one at a time or all at once.
Combat leans on the entire FromSoftware back catalogue, not just Bloodborne. Admittedly I picked the heaviest loadout at the start of the hands-on session but even so the combat feels more like classic Dark Souls in how deliberate every swing, block, and counter is. You can’t aggro your way through Lies of P quite like you can in Bloodborne, and blocking is mostly viable, even if it doesn’t look like there are any shields.
A lot of work has gone into ensuring that this feels every bit as premium as a FromSoft game. Instead of satisfying squelches, you get deafening metallic crunches with each hammer blow and sabre rattle – sparks fly out of enemies every time you connect, lighting the shadowy streets.
Musket shots come with a thundering crack, but there’s a subtle fizzle that you can use to time how long you’ve got before the next one. And the clockwork soldiers themselves clunk and hiss with every laboured movement. I imagine if you looked under their plate armour you’d find a tiny mechanoid controller feverishly working away at theatre organ.
There’s no precise release date for Lies of P, but you can expect it to arrive at some point in 2023. In the meantime, have a browse through our lists of the best games like Dark Souls or the best RPG games on PC for more top tier recommendations.