The recently released Lies of P from Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio has become an unexpected, under-the-radar hit in a year absolutely packed with releases. The new RPG has drawn rave reviews, thanks to its combination of Soulslike gameplay, dark fantasy, and loose basis on the 19th-century Italian fantasy novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio, which was later popularized courtesy of Disney’s historic 1940 animated film named after the protagonist.
Lies of P’s unique take on the story of a puppet with dreams of becoming a “real boy” got us thinking about other Disney animated classics with the ingredients to reimagine into the next Soulslike masterpiece. From ancient mythology to high fantasy and everything in between, here are five Disney animated features that we will undoubtedly be wishing upon a star to get a Lies of P styled game adaptation.
Disney’s 1998 film interpretation of the legendary Chinese Folk Hero, Mulan, has demonstrated staying power 25 years later thanks to its impressive voice performances and catchy soundtrack. However, Mulan’s source material would be the perfect fit for a Soulslike a la Lies of P. The story of a young woman who is sent to face the horrors of war when she takes her injured father’s place in the military by pretending to be his son (and against all odds, becomes a war heroine) has many hallmarks of Soulslike potential.
A Mulan-styled action RPG could work in a variety of ways, either by integrating more realistic, sword-heavy combat based on posture and parrying similarly to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, or could lean more into Chinese mythological elements similarly to Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, or even eschew its roots for a fantasy emphasis akin to Elden Ring. Whatever way the prospective developers might choose, gamers would certainly be excited to “get down to business to defeat the Huns” in any Mulan Soulslike.
Even though Greek Mythology has been successfully portrayed numerous times in the medium, most notably by Hades and God of War, a Hercules game combined with Soulslike elements has all the makings of the next Soulsborne sensation. The titular protagonist is a textbook, versatile player character, for whom gamers could scheme various builds thanks to his many strengths and powers.
Better yet, with an extensive cast of enemies spanning mythological monsters to ferocious Titans and even Hades, the King of the Underworld himself, a studio that developed a darker, more visceral version of Disney’s 1997 film would definitely make us chant Hercules! Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!
The Black Cauldron
Here is a quick rundown of the story elements featured in The Black Cauldron. A young swine herder must save his future-seeing pig from the evil, despotic Horned King, who intends to use the porcine prophet to find a magical artifact, the Black Cauldron, an item with the power to raise an army of the dead. If that premise doesn’t scream Soulsborne, then nothing does.
Despite the fact that 1985’s The Black Cauldron wasn’t as well-received as many other Disney classics on this list, its dark fantasy aesthetics and highly bizarre cast of characters are a match made in Soulslike heaven and could benefit environmental storytelling commonly found in FromSoftware games and their ilk. I can already imagine many YouTubers creating useful videos to help the rest of us comprehend the lore.
In a departure from the traditional Medieval fantasy, Gothic, mythological, or otherwise commonly used settings in Soulsborne RPGs, an intriguing choice would be a Tarzan Soulslike set entirely in the jungles of Africa. This location would provide a fresh take on the genre, while maintaining enemy variation, as the Tarzan mythos is teeming with danger from both invading hunters and terrifying beasts alike.
However, similarly to Lies of P, to fit in with other games in the genre, even though the Disney film version will always be in our hearts, Tarzan would be better served to incorporate the vision of creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’ seminal (and surprisingly dark) novels from the early 1900s, but with some updates to account for modern sensibilities.
Lies of P…eter Pan? All joking aside, Peter Pan and Neverland may seem like an unlikely match for the Soulslike subgenre, but the same could have been said about Pinocchio before it was reimagined. With the right vision, the 1953 film (based on J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play), could easily be reconceptualized to achieve Soulsborne greatness.
The story of a boy who never grows up, living in a fantastical realm with a variety of magical creatures has some surprisingly dark undertones, which could work seamlessly in the genre. With a gang of pirates hellbent on murdering the young protagonist, as well as Neverland’s resident Crocodile that craves human flesh, and even Peter Pan’s questionable morals, the story has many ingredients for an exciting Soulslike concoction, filled to the brim with the genre’s trademark dark fantasy. However, any prospective developer should remove all racist depictions of Indigenous peoples from a potential Peter Pan game.
While compiling this list of potential Disney animated films that would make great Soulslikes, a few other stories had potential but were missing a few elements or just weren’t quite perfect fits.
One potential game idea that came to mind was a Beauty and the Beast Soulslike that put players in the role of the villainous hunter, Gaston, who must rescue his betrothed, Belle, from the Beast’s castle. Even though moral ambiguity has been frequently explored in the Soulsborne paradigm, the biggest problem with this idea is that it would be missing the entire point of Beauty and the Beast’s story, which subverted traditional fantasy tropes and lacks the necessary action elements/enemy variety needed to make a great Soulslike.
Lastly, although a few other Disney animated films came to mind, such as Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, or even The Nightmare Before Christmas, these ultimately have either been done previously (i.e. the action horror game American McGee’s Alice) or might better-suited for other genres.
With Soulslike/Soulsborne RPGs continuing to dominate in the videogame market and studios seeking the next big idea, we can only hope that developers will continue to reimagine classic stories, be it from Disney or other sources, and keep gamers stocked with exciting new experiences in the challenging, yet ever-growing subgenre popularized by FromSoftware.
For more Prima Games features, check out Prima’s official review of Lies of P.