Like I did with Armored Core 6 (three times), I took a break from Baldur's Gate 3 just to beat Lies of P, the grimdark Pinocchio Soulslike that's been tempting FromSoftware fans, and especially Bloodborne fans, for years. What can I say, I'm a Soulslike glutton down to my bone marrow.
I rolled credits last night, and having beaten a zillion Souslikes both 2D and 3D, I can say with reasonable confidence that Lies of P is the best one out there. I can see why the director was so happy about the Bloodborne comparisons; developer Neowiz has created the best Bloodborne 2 lookalike so far. It's so good, and so spot-on, that at this point I want FromSoftware to pull out the Uno reverse card and blatantly copy ideas from Lies of P.
A crumb of quest help, as a treat
It's not at all perfect, and I fully agree with the assessment in Jasmine's Lies of P review. Enemy variety is disappointing, enemy attack animations are herky-jerky, more than a few hitboxes feel questionable when parrying, level design is usually brilliant but sometimes uninspired, and the balance on the puppet arms feels unhealthily skewed. But these strike me as teething issues for the developer, and they're minor complaints about a great Soulslike that does a few things better than the Souls games that inspired it.
Let's start with the big one. Elden Ring, I love you, but your NPC questlines are obtuse horseshit. FromSoftware's always taken an esoteric approach to quests, with spamming dialogue being a must and random, unknowable events frequently either blocking off quests or advancing them without your knowledge. Souls games are constantly pushing you to explore the world and kill bosses, but if you explore the wrong area or kill the wrong boss too early you run the risk of inadvertently killing, angering, maiming, or pissing off a favorite NPC off-screen. You fool, you absolute buffoon. That, or you'll unwittingly progress their quest by kicking a sheep down a well or something and they'll inexplicably teleport to meet you in the eighth circle of Hell where you now find yourself. Yes, Tarnished, I always swing by the Great Cave of Shrieking Disembowelment in the fall, why do you ask?
This has always been kind of ass, to be honest, but it was endearing in a retro way and Siegmeyer was really funny, so we either put up with it or, like Stockholm Syndrome sufferers, somehow convinced ourselves it's actually good design. Then the open world of Elden Ring made it omega ass to trip over arbitrary, invisible quest triggers in a gigantic world that hides NPCs not so much like needles in a haystack but rather hay in a needlestack. It sucks! It's bad! It's the kind of thing that makes me wonder if FromSoftware gets a cut of ad revenue on wiki page views because good luck untangling these Christmas lights without a guide.
Fortunately, Lies of P has the solution. Say it with me, and say it slowly: NPC markers. No, not a quest log to clutter your UI, not a waypoint to follow, not obnoxious dialogue to hound you. Just a subtle little stamp in the fast-travel menu that tells you, 'Hey, this person is somewhere in this area and you should probably talk to them.' This is not an unprecedented solution, but Lies of P was the game to prove to me that this works just fine – great, even – in Soulslikes. That's all I'm asking for, FromSoftware: a crumb of signposting. Don't spoil it for newly discovered or undiscovered areas, but if I've explored somewhere already and didn't see an NPC because their dark and miserable outfit blended into the dark and miserable world, you have my permission to tap me on the shoulder.
And some really cool combat tricks
You know, I said that was the big one, but now that I think of it this might be the bigger one: easy, unlimited build respec. I'm going to pick on Elden Ring again here – don't worry, FromSoftware can dry its tears with all the money and perfect reviews in the universe – because its Larval Tear respec system is needlessly limiting. Why put any sort of cap or grind on redoing your build? Let me experiment! Lies of P lets you respec as much as you want with a modest fee of Spoiler Items that you don't even have to farm for because they literally grow on trees. You do have to wait a little bit, but I wasn't planning on respeccing once an hour anyway. (Read up on the Lies of P best builds here.)
Here's one you post-Elden Ring FromSoftware fans might not know about: the older Souls games had weapon durability. And it was dumb! Not because weapon durability is inherently dumb, but because the games did nothing with the idea. It was occasionally annoying and mostly forgettable. Lies of P has weapon durability and it's not dumb because it has an interesting sharpening mechanic built around it.
It's important to keep your weapon in tip-top shape, and sharpening is fast and free so it never bothered me while exploring. I actually like the narrative implication of all these battles measurably wearing you down. But the animation is such that you can't easily sharpen during boss fights, and some fights are long enough that this is a legitimate concern. This forces you to rely on rare instant grindstones, equip skills or items that reduce weapon degradation, bring a second weapon, or find a good moment to sharpen.
Again, this creates a cool and extremely anime moment, especially when phase two of a boss fight starts and you size each other up across the arena. You feel like Henry Cavill reloading his arms. All right, dude *cracks a grindstone down my scythe's edge with a storm of sparks* time to kill you again. On top of that, you can use special grindstones that grant powerful but temporary weapon buffs, sort of like customizable grease in Elden Ring that replenishes when you rest at a checkpoint, and it works so well because it's logically nested within this mechanic. I'm not saying FromSoftware has to bring back weapon durability; I'm saying that if it does, do something with it.
It is white-knuckle stuff, and it leads to clutch moments on top of clutch moments
Speaking of cool anime moments, when you run out of Estus Flask stand-ins in Lies of P, you can charge up another one by dealing damage. At most, you'll get one or two extra heals per boss fight, so it doesn't actually do much balance-wise, but this mechanic is genuinely one of the best memory generators I've ever seen in a game.
If you thought fighting a difficult boss when you're both on your last leg was tense before, try doing it when you're also one hit away from a precious heal. It is white-knuckle stuff, and it leads to clutch moments on top of clutch moments. I do think Lies of P goes overboard with how many unlockable buffs you can stack for your 'Out of Estus' state, but the underlying idea of refilling your very last healing item by dealing damage is so incredibly clever. It feels like a natural extension of the Estus system. (Lies of P Pulse Cells better explained here for the curious.)
Those are the big ones that stand out in my mind, but here's a little rapid-fire list of features and conveniences that I reckon wouldn't go amiss in Souls land. And that's the takeaway here. These features are not musts and FromSoftware is king for a reason, but these are fun evolutions I'd be thrilled to see more often.
When you die to a boss, your dropped Souls (Ergo) appear right outside the boss arena, saving you some frantic scrambling on your next attempt.
Throwable items (saw blades, sharp pipes – fire pot equivalents basically) that are actually worth a damn late-game.
A training dummy that gives you infinite resources to test new weapons and special moves (spells).
When you have enough Souls (again, Ergo) to level up, the counter turns blue. Lovely! This is maybe the truest 100% must-have feature in this entire article.
Oh, you know what, I've actually just thought of another one. You can have this one for free too, FromSoftware: a big fuck-off poison swamp that sucks. Lies of P has one for some reason and, I don't know why, but I just think that would fit right into the Souls formula.