Lies of P is a game that asks a very unexpected question: What if Dark Souls, but Pinocchio? Or the other way around, if you prefer. Either way, it brings the famed puppet who was desperate to be a real boy into the punishing world of third-person soulslike combat, and lest you be envisioning a relatively lighthearted romp with Geppetto and Jiminy Cricket, it is dark—the kind of dark you typically only see when someone is trying to make a point that, hey, maybe a world where wooden children are eaten by whales is a little messed up.
An early Lies of P alpha gameplay trailer set the tone with all sorts of unpleasant imagery, including one bit that sees our man P striding across a bridge with a decapitated figure—an automaton of some sort, presumably—strung up in its arches. More important, though, is a large sign hanging from the body, with four letters scrawled across it: APAB.
The message is obviously a play on ACAB, an acronym meaning All Cops Are Bastards. The phrase actually originated earlier than you might think: in England sometime before 1940. ( But in recent years the slogan has taken on a charged political connotation thanks to its adoption by people opposed to police violence.
That APAB message didn't seem to turn up in future Lies of P promotional materials, though, and in fact a recent playthrough video by Solear Gaming indicates that the message has actually changed: In what looks to be the same scene otherwise, the message hanging off the beheaded marionette now reads, "Purge Puppets."
In an interview with Video Games on Sports Illustrated, Lies of P director Ji-Won Choi confirmed that the message did in fact stand for All Puppets Are Bastards, and that it was removed in order to avoid controversy.
"That was one of the messages we were going to use in the game, but we ended up taking it out," Choi said. "We took it out eventually because we wanted everyone to enjoy the game exactly how we intended it to be enjoyed, and not judged based on any trends. We really wanted the world that we designed to be interpreted by the players exactly how we aimed it to be, so we took out factors that could be a little risky.
"We respect everyone who might want to play this game, and we wanted everyone to get the best experience out of it."
It's not clear whether any related missions or story content was cut from the game, or if it was simply a single piece of environmental art that someone decided was a bad idea.
It isn't the first time that a game has referenced a real-world political movement in an initial piece of imagery, then omitted it from the final game. In 2016, Eidos Montreal released a trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided called "Mechanical Apartheid," and shared concept art for the game which included images of protesters holding an "Augs Lives Matter" banner, a play on the Black Lives Matter political movement. The attempt to tie the game to real-world events backfired badly, as gamers called out the insensitivity of using ongoing, real-world social struggles in marketing for a videogame.
Lies of P is set to come out on September 19. I've reached out to developer Neowiz for more information and will update if I receive a reply.