Why Souls-Likes Such As Lies Of P Should Steer Clear Of Difficulty Nerfs

They did Simon dirty.

Story Highlights

  • Lies of P is the latest and probably one of the most significant additions to the Souls-like genre.
  • A brutal and challenging game though by no means unfair, it’s sad to see Lies of P receive a ton of nerfs that have made enemies and bosses a pushover.
  • Souls-likes are meant to be a challenge and provide a learning curve that has an enormously satisfying payoff. Yet difficulty nerfs in the name of accessibility have become common.
  • Lies of P had some problems like combat clunkiness, dodge upgrades locked behind upgrades, and janky animation transitions that should have been fixed rather than issuing excessive nerfs.

What characterizes a game as Souls-like? Multiple factors need to be checked, but one thing we can be sure of; Souls-like are brutally difficult, and for most of us that is the principal charm of the genre. Speaking for myself, I seek out these games to fulfill the desire for a thrilling challenge and enormous satisfaction when surpassing a tall obstacle. If that’s the main idea, what about the excessive nerfs that go too far?

Nerfs are a common occurrence in many games, as after careful consideration and fan feedback the game needs to be tweaked and refined. These balance updates range from crucial ones to highly dramatic nerfs. It’s especially noteworthy when I’m stuck on a boss and trying to learn its patterns, and suddenly an update flies in and nerfs that boss to hell, making the victory devoid of any satisfaction. That seems to be the case with Lies of P‘s latest update.

  • About the Author: After going through Lies of P for several weeks, I feel confident going into the topic with thorough experience.

Lies Of P Is An Excellent Souls-Like In Ages

Souls-like, the brutal yet beautiful genre that gives the strongest adrenaline rush with its punishing encounters began as a replication of FromSoftware‘s out-of-the-box idea in Demon Souls. It was Dark Souls which catalyzed the genre’s rise to the point it is today. The revolutionary concept has been reiterated many times, but as expected, the creator and master of the craft is unmatched. Having played almost every Souls-like out there, I can assure you this.

No game came close to the FromSoftware greatness, but it seems we finally have a strong contender, one that can stand proud among FromSoftware’s giants despite its shortcomings — Lies of P. Neowiz’s attempt at the Souls formula although leaves some room for improvement, it does so much right that at some points it feels like I’m playing a FromSoftware game; the title’s most significant achievement.

You know Pinocchio’s story, yes? Neowiz says to forget the heartwarming and pleasant tale and have a dark fantasy setting and a soul-crushingly nefarious plot instead. Lies of P’s masterful utilization of the concept is simply exquisite. The trailer and the demo kind of gave it away that the story is no fun and games, but the full release hides even more serious and dark undertones, kind of like Bloodborne, and it’s genuinely well done.

Lies of P's puppet story has a lot more to it as you proceed.
Lies of P’s puppet story has a lot more to it as you proceed.

Next is the gameplay, the bread and butter of the Souls formula. Safe to say Lies of P doesn’t disappoint here as well, as it plays out a lot like a FromSoftware title. Other than some pretty strong hiccups with the combat’s design, I don’t have too many complaints. The enemy design is downright brutal yet satisfying to overcome, and the world gives off a strong feeling of wonder and danger lurking around. All in all, Lies of P manages to deliver a ton of what I expect to see in a genuinely fun Souls-like.

Lies Of P Went Overboard With Nerfs

Okay, I admit Lies of P was pretty tough, and some elite enemies and bosses were quite frustrating, but certainly not that much to warrant such heavy nerfs. I like stumbling upon a tough challenge that needs considerable effort, and I’m sure it’s the same for many fans of the genre. Lies of P had some problems, but they were certainly not the enemy’s difficulty, and on top of that, the patch went overboard with its tweaking.

Lies of P is challenging but fair, It’s not “bullshit”
byu/DCSniperz inLiesOfP

The latest patch of the game lowered the overall game difficulty considerably, and I mean a lot. First thing, many overworld enemies have their health and aggression reduced. Couple that with increased stagger opportunity and a wider window, and you can take out any obstacle in the level with ease. It was quite fun when enemies posed a challenge and you had to better time your charge attacks in a short staggered window.

Next up are the boss nerfs. Certain mid-to-end game bosses have been substantially weakened. The most notable boss to discuss here is Simon, the final boss in one of the endings. It was supposed to be a strong obstacle at your journey’s end and was designed to represent it. The fight was brutal, no doubt, but it served as a test of what you learned throughout the game. I had a lot of trouble with this guy and cursed his existence, and it seems the developers took that pretty seriously.

Simon went from crushing players to becoming a total pushover.
Simon went from crushing players to becoming a total pushover.

Simon was nerfed to hell, his health pool reduced, damage reduced, aggression in the second phase toned down, and was made more susceptible to stagger damage. In a nutshell, Simon is a cakewalk now. I spent a lot of time learning his patterns and eventually surpassing him, which was an undescribable feeling of joy. Beating him after the nerf, I felt nothing but emptiness; the sense of accomplishment gone without a trace.

Did devs overnerfed Simon Manus?
byu/igger26 inLiesOfP

And then to top it all off, the Spector, this game’s NPC support just took a shot of steroids. This translates to a game-wide nerf of bosses. In most cases, Spector served to take away enemy aggro, while you do the heavy lifting, and I liked it that way. NPC’s soloing bosses are precisely why Elden Ring’s Mimic Tear had to be nerfed, but this did the opposite. I love Souls-like games because of the addicting difficulty, but certain nerfs go against that thought.

Nerfs In Souls-Like Can Spoil The Fun Sometimes

Let me ask you this, why do you pick up a Souls-like? Is it because of the story? The visuals? I’m sure the primary decision is the challenging and thrilling combat and gameplay, especially the over-the-top boss battles. There are a ton of genres of games out there, and Souls-like is especially known for its brutal difficulty and steep but satisfying learning curve. Lies of P was a perfect embodiment of this concept.

These games are in no way unfair, they just need a little more effort. I understand it means they’re not for everyone’s tastes, but that’s just how they are, and making them more easy is not equivalent to more accessibility. To prove this point, take a look at all the bizarre and unfathomable challenges some players attempt. If the games are impossibly hard, why do people look for even more difficulty?

Easy mode, the worst thing you could do to a souls game.
byu/TheAshenHunter101 indarksouls3

This is why, I believe difficulty nerfs are not something the player base wants. On the other hand, nerfs that make sure game-breakingly overpowered tactics and features are toned down, and the unfair glitches and balancing issues are fixed are surely appreciated. But lowering difficulty in the guise of balancing or more accessibility is not the right move. Lies of P took its brutal bosses and made them a shell of their past selves.

Take a look at Elden Ring for example. Some of its patches did a lot of good like removing unfairly overpowered elements and fixing artificial difficulty due to bugs, but some of them like nerfing incredibly challenging bosses like Radahn were going too far. Difficult boss encounters is among the most thrilling and joy-inducing aspect of these games, and I hope this is taken into consideration for future updates.

Neowiz Could’ve Focused This Effort On Combat Fluidity

Let me say this, Lies of P was a perfectly challenging game I enjoyed a lot, and while it had some issues, they were not boss health or aggression. Instead of making the boss a meager entity, wouldn’t it be better to fix some of the game’s core combat issues? Difficulty is never the problem and the principal idea behind the concept. You need to study the enemies and do some grind if you struggle, and you’ll see it’s nothing impossibly hard.

So let’s talk about some of the genuine issues with the combat. The first thing is how many of the necessary abilities in Lies of P are locked behind P-Organ upgrades that require considerable progress. My dodge should be smooth and let me get up after getting knocked out right from the get-go. This is not some additional luxury, but an integral part of the gameplay

Locking dodge improvement behind P-Organs was a questionable choice.
Locking dodge improvement behind P-Organs was a questionable choice.

From the same point, the next problem arises of elongated animations that cannot be skipped. If you press the attack button but then immediately need to dodge, you cannot shorten the attack animation in any way. Accidentally press the attack in the heat of battle and then watch your character do the entire animation up till the last frame before dodging away. What’s needed here is a smoother transition to dodge after an attack.

This animation canceling also ties into the block or parry. Most of the time you cannot execute these actions mid-attack animations. Although animation cancel is something not entirely present in FromSoftware’s games either, there is a considerable window where you can shorten your animations with certain actions, and honestly, it makes quite a difference. I noticed this right as I started playing Lies of P, it’s combat is a bit on the jankier side.

So many amazing aspects to this game, but there are small things that are holding this combat system back (imo)
byu/Avongrove inLiesOfP

In conclusion, my point is toning down difficulty is not the solution here. People play Souls games because they want a challenge, and they should get one. How am I supposed to get my intense adrenaline rush if the boss is not a total pain? These games are not unfairly hard but are designed to incorporate a steep learning curve that is enormously satisfying to achieve. I hope further patches consider Lies of P’s core combat issues rather than simply making the bosses a trivial matter.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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