Lies of P, the punishing Soulslike about Pinocchio looking for his dad Geppetto, has plenty of tough enemies waiting to meet you. They’re all terrifying, ranging from a poison-imbued slug beast to a dude who literally thinks he’s God, but there’s one mini-boss who sucks so much I can’t wait to meet it in Hell one day.
Read More: Lies Of P: The Kotaku Review
Out now on PC, PlayStation consoles, and Xbox systems via Game Pass, Lies of P draws a lot of its gameplay influences from famously brutal FromSoftware games such as Bloodborne and Sekiro. You’ll block, dodge, parry, and slash your way through a bloodied 19th-century France to search for Geppetto and solve the mystery of the petrification disease that’s killing the rest of the humans who haven’t been murdered by the puppets. You’ll meet some eclectic characters and fearsome enemies along the way, and while many of the fights you’ll find yourself in are no-bullshit, one mini-boss you encounter in the game’s third chapter (out of 11 total) has made some players rather furious.
Lies of P’s shovel guard is a fiery menace
Chapter 3 has you searching for Lorenzini Venigni, a self-proclaimed genius of technology who’s played a crucial role in the universe’s marionette creation. He’s holed up in the Venigni Works Control Room, which is deep within the Workshop Union, a steampunky location littered with stacked buildings, industrial piping, and puppets—so many damn puppets. You’ll weave your way through this area, defeating dolls here and collecting items there and unlocking paths over there, while keeping your eyes peeled for Venigni. You can’t progress the story without finding him, so hunting the mustachioed maker down is paramount. While looking for him, you’ll run into what I’m calling the shovel guard: a big-ass flaming robot just begging to burn all your electrical wirings.
This enemy sucks. It has a shit ton of health and, like most goons in Lies of P, takes your attacks without flinching much. It deals a bunch of damage and, whenever it lands a strike (even if you block), it causes the overheat status effect to build up which slowly chars P’s wood once the gauge is completely full. It’s also got some combos that can stunlock (an animation trap that prevents you from reacting to anything) you to death if you’re not careful. And making matters worse, you fight this jerk in a narrow pipe, meaning there isn’t much space for you to avoid the shovel guard’s painful, wide-arching attacks.
So, you’ve got a big enemy in a small arena that swings wide and hits hard. That’s already a recipe for Gamer Rage™. However, remember when I said the shovel guard can stunlock you to death? Well, it’s got this one overhead strike that—while slow and telegraphed—has a long reach, deals massive damage, and ends in a flurry of ground slams that immobilize you. It’s this attack that’s killed me and many many other Lies of P players on Reddit, partially because the game’s dodge mechanic sucks at first. At this early point in the game, you’ll likely have two to four Quartz, a rare upgrade material used to unlock abilities in P’s P-Organ skill tree. To survive the shovel guard’s combo string, you want the Rising Dodge skill, which lets you roll after getting knocked to the ground. This is an important skill to unlock, as animation recovery here takes forever, but you’ve gotta spend four Quartz in the skill tree to even reach the ability. Unless you’re adept at precise dodging and perfect guarding, prepare to watch yourself get beat over and over again. It’s really not a pretty sight to behold.
Once you get the hang of the shovel guard’s attack patterns, though, the fear begins to dissipate. If you remember that Lies of P has the aesthetic of Bloodborne but the mechanics of Sekiro—in that it demands you master the perfect guard to negate all incoming damage and break your opponent’s weapon instead of dodge spamming—you’ll eventually wipe this asshole out without much of a problem. But, of course, that necessitates you die a lot to see and memorize the shovel guard’s strikes. And this was just your first taste of the shovel guard, as the enemy pops back up in the same stage and a bit later in the game, too. The other times, it respawns with several other enemies when you rest at a Stargazer (bonfire), bringing all that trauma rushing back again. Ugh.
Read More: 8 Lies Of P Tips To Help You Survive This Brutal New Soulslike
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Lies of P isn’t a perfect game by any means. It’s a bit sluggish at times, and difficulty spikes appear somewhat random. That said, I’m still enjoying the game, particularly for its story, characters, and setting. It’s easily becoming one of my fave Soulslikes of 2023. I just wish the shovel guard wasn’t such a jerk.