Developers Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio’s Lies of P (available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S via Game Pass) has been compared to Bloodborne ever since the game was revealed. Like so many one-to-one comparisons in modern media, that comparison is ultimately something of an exaggeration. And yet, given that we’re talking about a game that offers a twisted take on the Pinnochio tale, it feels important to say that there are also quite a few truths to be found in those exaggerations.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Lies of P’s most upfront qualities are also its most Bloodborne-like features. It is a Soulslike game with most of the core design elements we associate with that genre (including some that borrow Bloodborne‘s twists on those ideas). Numerous aspects of its UI and animations are…umm…inspired by Bloodborne, to say the least. Most importantly, Lies of P utilizes a particular kind of gothic horror style that certainly feels like it was designed to invoke all of those memories you likely still have about one of the best horror games in recent years. First impressions mean a lot, and most first looks at Lies of P will leave any reasonable person saying “Wow, that looks a lot like Bloodborne.”
To be fair, Lies of P’s developers have not shied away from these comparisons. While they’ve stopped short of saying “Yes, we designed this game with the hopes that we will make people believe it is somehow related to Bloodborne,” they have embraced the similarities in other ways. Most notably, Lies of P director Choi Ji-Won recently said that he’s a “very big fan of Bloodborne” and that he is “honored” to have people use the name Bloodborne when they discuss his work.
I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot as I’ve been playing Lies of P. After just a few hours with the game, my instinct was to come out and simply rattle off all of the ways that Lies of P clearly distinguishes itself from Bloodborne and how all the comparisons to Bloodborne are diluting and obfuscating some of its best ideas. Instead, I’ll embrace what Choi Ji-Won has embraced. Lies of P does imitate Bloodborne in some notable ways, and I couldn’t be happier that’s the case.
Bloodborne was widely hailed as a masterpiece upon its release in 2015, and its reputation has only grown since then. While that’s partially because people keep finding new things to love about FromSoftware’s arguable masterpiece, Bloodborne’s almost mythical modern status can also be attributed to its relatively limited availability. To this day, Bloodborne remains a PlayStation 4 exclusive (with PS5 compatibility) that has yet to receive even a proper next-gen remaster. You can’t play it on Xbox and you can’t even play it on PC where so many PlayStation (and FromSoftware games) are otherwise available to arguably the Soulslike genre’s most enthusiastic audience.
Why haven’t we gotten a Bloodborne remaster or remake? There’s never been an official answer to that question, but the rumors regarding that potential project have been remarkably consistent. Basically, reports suggest that FromSoftware is simply too busy working on new games to find the time to develop a Bloodborne remaster or remake themselves. Furthermore, Bloodborne’s complicated (some say “sloppy”) code would need a lot of love from its original developers if it was going to be ported to a new platform, which rules out simply giving the project to another studio. Basically, the people involved with Bloodborne’s creation have largely moved on despite the fact that Bloodborne‘s fans clearly have not.
That’s not a bad thing, but it is a somewhat sad realization. It’s great that FromSoftware is always looking towards the future at a time when so many other studios are content with regularly resurrecting past projects for relatively quick cash-ins. It’s unfortunate that one of the greatest games of the PS4 generation remains largely limited to that generation despite so many pleas for a better option.
Though not everyone will see Lies of P as that better option (nor should they), it is still an option. In the eight years since Bloodborne’s release, we’ve seen fan remakes/ports of Bloodborne, numerous incredible Soulslike experiences, and even some smaller titles that invoke an aspect of Bloodborne in some way. What we haven’t seen is a developer with the budget and talent needed to produce a Bloodborne-like experience actually do so.
Why is that? At a time when countless modern games follow one formula or another, a studio following in Bloodborne’s footsteps shouldn’t be a surprise. If anything, I’m shocked that a develpor hasn’t produced a more obviously Bloodborne-like experience sooner than this, and I’m thrilled that somebody decided to do so rather than continue to wait for an official Bloodborne project or join the requests that we all leave the memories alone. The fear of being compared to a game like Bloodborne in terms of either quality or even a presumed lack of creativity will always be there. Yet, at a time when it’s pretty clear we’re not getting any official Bloodborne follow-up anytime soon (if ever), the opportunity to create something meaningful in that void also remains shockingly present.
That’s exactly what Lies of P does. You don’t have to brush aside the Bloodborne similarities (they are certainly there), but you also shouldn’t dismiss the things that make Lies of P more than a tribute. It emphasizes blocks over dodges in a way that truly rewards you for perfect timing and pattern memorization. It features an extensive upgrade system complete with a weapon crafting system that I would love to see in future FromSoftware games. It incorporates a rather brilliant “lying” mechanic that gives you more choices in the game’s narrative (or at least the equally vital illusion of that choice), as well as a weapon durability system that is somehow more thrilling than frustrating. Even those graphics that seem to invoke the most Bloodborne comparisons soon prove to be the vehicle for a brilliantly crafted world filled with top-tier enemy designs and stunning, visually-driven narrative touches that eventually reveal so many of the ideas that make this game special and worthwhile.
Lies of P shows how innovations in art and entertainment are rarely entirely divorced from imitation. If anything, those ideas are often more closely associated than we’d like to admit. The Lies of P team could have looked at their vision for this game and fretted over how much it may remind some of Bloodborne. Maybe they did. Instead of running away from invoking memories of a game left relatively abandoned in a more modern part of history, though, they instead decided to see how far they could go if they began at greatness.
Call Lies of P “Bloodborne 2” or “close enough to Bloodborne for PC.” You won’t be the first or last to do so, and you won’t even be that far off from some of the things that make it interesting. Just don’t make that the final word on this incredible Souslike game. At the very least, Lies of P shows us why those cries for a modern Bloodborne-like experience remain valid and should be answered rather than ignored.