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Lies Of P's horrible puppets and gloop cannon prove it's more than a Bloodborne clone

Poke your nose into its business

Pinocchio turns towards violence in a Lies of P screenshot.
Image credit: Neowiz

I wasn't too hot on Lies Of P when I played its first demo way back when. I felt it was so close, too close, to Bloodborne in everything from the cadence of the Chalamet puppet's jog, to the "duhhnng" noise of pickups, and the gothic sheen of its streets. At the time I thought it was a bit of a duff pretender, honestly.

But a good chunk of time with it at this year's Gamescom has swivelled my head back in its direction. Having clacked through some dingy streets, fired blue gloop from my arm, and fought the literal King Of Puppets, I've come to realise it has the potential to be a magnificent Soulslike in its own right.

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My demo, like many at this year's show, was split into two bits. The first dumped me into chapter 3, where I made my way through a horrible town and the sorts of old houses with dark wood grain stairs and rich mahogany desks. The second popped me into chapter 6, where I entered the bright glow of a beautiful concert hall, home to singers-who-are-somehow-also-mechanical-spiders and a boss fight against machine royalty. To summarise: it was a traumatic experience and my hands were shaking when I got up and left.

Lies Of P's first demo had a lot of boring fodder like dogs, and mateys who could barely scratch you. Both slices of the Gamescom demo, though, ushered in a mixture of the nastiest, creepiest puppet contraptions, and it showed the game really is home home to a deranged set of clockwork bastards. I remember entering the quiet of a house and seeing these robotic old ladies, their bodies juddering as they paced to and fro. The moment they spotted me they held their brooms aloft, and only when their brooms whirred to life did I realise there were horrid grins on their faces. The brooms were chainsaws.

Pinocchio faces off against a giant puppet on a fiery street in Lies Of P.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Neowiz

The horrors didn't stop. Distorted babies would wail and nip at my ankles. Suicidal dolls would crash through glass and sprint at me, flashes of red growing ever faster as they closed in. In the concert hall, opera spiders wove threads to empower armies of littler creatures. I'd need to sever these connection first if I wanted to survive.

While I wouldn't say the portions of the concert hall or the houses were as intricately designed as FromSoftware's offerings (a tall order), I'd say Lies Of P's variety of metal puppets, swinging bells and crumbled beams - and the push it gave me to prod basements or rooftops - had me eager to explore every inch of the map. Occasionally I bumped into the silhouettes of old ladies through windows who asked me to fetch stuff, as did smartly dressed lads in top hats. Super Bloodborne, sure, but I began to approach them with an "eh, it's still a cool idea" attitude, and I think that was helped by my greater appreciation of the game's dystopian Pinnochioverse. No it probably won't reach Bloodborne's heights, but it's certainly giving it a fair crack.

Not just a fair crack, but a real go, actually. Where Lies Of P has Bloodborne pipped is in its sheer wealth of of things to equip or wear or combine. While starting at the third chapter meant a lot of the game's prior context was lost on me, it only took me opening a menu and messing about in the weapons section to realise just how bonkers things could get. A chef's cleaver, a police batons, iron slates to sling onto your shoulder, clubs, hammers. Many, or all, capable of being snapped together somehow. Goodness me.

Pinocchio takes on the King Of Puppets in Lies Of P.
Pinocchio looks up at Estella Opera House in Lies Of P.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Neowiz

Then you've got Chalamet's left arm, home to a cannon by default in the demo. Pressing the left trigger hurtled a timed explosive mine into a robot's chest, but I could open up a menu and swap out my cannon for tonnes of other things. In the end, I settled for an arm that could fire blue corrosive goop either in a wide arc or in a straight line. Any enemies caught in its spray melted with a blue fizz, and let me tell you, I used it heaps to get through tricky encounters. The myriad of choices never felt overwhelming; they weren't like Nioh, with its rainbows of stats and rarities. Instead, it felt like a combination of FromSoft's curated arsenal mingled with the breadth of a cluttered antique shop. Rifling through those menus? Exciting.

To round off my demo experience in a truly frightening manner, I took on the King Of Puppets in the concert hall's grand stage. The intro that saw this enormous contraption spring to life, its face literally rotating from happy to sad as it realised I wasn't there for funsies, was as well done as any FromSoft boss entrance. And I'd say the fight itself was a brilliant demonstration of the game's fluidity, with precise dashes weaving nicely into follow-up attacks. I don't want to spoil any surprises, as the fight develops, but I will say I entered the concentration zone where everything around me went quiet and it was just myself and this big bastard in the lukewarm halls of Cologne, and I needed to use everything in my power - the blue goop, the dashes, retaliatory strikes when I maxed out his stagger bar - to bring him to his knees. I think that's the marker of a good fight. Not to mention I was the only one to beat him on the day, so I am unofficial champion of Lies Of P, until someone completes the game in 10 minutes when it launches...

All in all, I've changed my tune on Lies Of P and I'm convinced it's going to hit the Soulslike market with a long sweep of its nose, knocking all the competition to the floor, or spiking them in their chests like a jouster. Stay tuned.

For more of the latest news and previews from Gamescom 2023, head to our Gamescom 2023 hub. You can also find everything announced at Opening Night Live right here.

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