Bloodborne, Hidetaka Miyazaki’s acclaimed ‘Soulslike’ RPG, has never come to PC. Fans have begged, emulators have been made, and rumours are plentiful, but the 2015’s game is (for now) exclusive to the Playstation consoles.
So what can fill that Lovecraftian-sized hole? Of course, Dark Souls and Elden Ring, FromSoftware’s mechanically-identical games, are notable options; there has yet to be a successful studio game that embodies the harrowing, gothic atmosphere of Bloodborne’s Victorian-inspired City of Yharnam.
But that could soon change.
Lies of P, an upcoming role-playing game developed by little-known studio Neowiz Games, has caught the attention of the Soulslike community in a way no other independent attempt has; Cold Symmetry’s Mortal Engines came and went, whilst Thymesia, the plague-infested release from Overborder Studios, felt unpolished and overwhelmingly short. The multi-platform release, hefty price point (£49.99, the same as AAA releases), and alluring setting all point towards a serious contender against the Fromsoftware releases. Best of all, the game’s flagship release is PC.
Screenshot provided by Gio Eldred Mitre (taken from Lies of P Free Demo on Steam)
Set in the devastated city of Krat, Lies of P has you take on biomechanical, clockwork monsters as none other than Geppetto’s infamous puppet, Pinocchio. It's a unique blend of gothic and fairy tale elements, quite distinct from Disney's animated adaptation or Guillermo Del Toro's more recent take. On your journey, Pinocchio uses swords, guns and his artificial arm to fight metal beasts in the hopes of locating his missing Father, threading the core principles of Dark Souls in the beautifully dark setting. There are souls. There are bosses. There is a ridiculously intense difficulty. Though they’ve been given new names, make no mistake; this is a Soulslike through and through.
Playing the free demo on Steam, it's clear that significant attention was paid to appeal not only to Bloodborne fans but also to a broader audience. The incorporation of an accessible literary foundation and a more linear narrative, distinct from Miyazaki's traditional approach, is likely to attract a wider player base. It doesn’t feel like an indie attempt, nor should it; despite not being a household name, Neowiz's extensive portfolio of releases suggests that they are a studio with experience.
Without playing, the game seems destined for success, but the demo reveals the first of what are surely to be many cracks. Pessimism aside, this is not Fromsoftware, and Neowiz have never developed anything quite like Lies of P. It’s an advantage, sure, to have a fresh take on the Soulslike formula, especially with elements such as the promised ‘lying system’, but it runs the risk of alienating even the most casual gamer who expects things to be done a certain way.
The team is smaller than Fromsoftware, and this of course leads to bugs or components that have likely not been given the care they deserve. At the forefront of these errors is the pivotal dodging controls, which feel clunky and irrelevant; during my playthrough, I found it far more convenient to just block attacks with my sword, even though it cost health. Errors such as this simply shouldn’t be in a game where movement and timing are the most important factors, and though project lead Choi Ji-Won promised alterations almost as soon as these complaints were heard, my own experience is still that of clunky gameplay. It’s a distracting feature and must change as soon as possible if Lies of P is to find any real success.
Screenshot provided by Gio Eldred Mitre (taken from "Lies of P" free demo on Steam)
Alongside such misjudgements, there are smaller signs that this game shouldn’t be held to the expectation that it is ‘Bloodborne for PC’. The world is a little emptier than Bloodborne, and the English translations of the flavour text are at best comedic, and at worst, shocking.
However, these are inevitably uncontrollable factors; the budget is nowhere near as high as a Fromsoftware game, and so I am inclined to be a little more forgiving if there is evidence that the game is beautifully and lovingly crafted. Lies of P is just that; an inventive tale with extensive proof that Neowiz is not just attempting to cash in on the gap in Soulslike left by Elden Ring. I really hope the game is as good as it promises to be. I’m in need of a Soulslike fix, and out of every recent release, this looks to be the best option.
Lies of P by Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio will be released on September 19, 2023, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, MacOS, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Edited by Gio Eldred Mitre, Gaming Editor