Strayed Lights is a Souls-like game and what I’m referring here to is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the game has some similarities in mechanics but is much more forgiving of player error, making the adventure a little easier if you learn to the adventure if you learn to quickly master the art of parrying moves.
Unlike many games in this genre, Strayed Lights has one great feature that makes the game enormously easy: enemies change colour from blue to orange. If you parry with the same colour, then your parry will be successful. For the rest, all you have to do is hit the enemy to fill up your energy gauge.
A familiar way to play
In the storytelling department, Strayed Lights is more of a show but don’t tell camp, so if you like games like Journey, Limbo, Inside and so on, this is what you should expect. After a malevolent force essentially shatters your character, you must move through several environments to restore who you were to move on.
Strayed Lights doesn’t control like a lot of games you may be used using in a Souls-like, which will probably affect your muscle memory if you are a fan of Souls-like games. This isn’t a jab either, in fact, it’s a good thing as you quickly learn to adjust and adapt. On the other hand, Strayed Lights will offer you a complete tutorial that will allow you to better understand the style of the game and its controls, all wrapped up in superb cinematics.
Add to this some great combat, especially the bosses leave a lasting impression. With that said, while the fights were spectacular, there was nothing intense about them given the more casual feel of the game, especially given that a successful parry meant you got a lot of your health back, which didn’t raise the difficulty level. When you add another colour to the mix like purple, you’re left to surmise the right move, which in this case, is to dodge. Later on, a fourth colour is thrown into the mix and it is dashed to figure out how enemies will respond in favour. It can become a bit hectic when dealing with enemies, but the main thing is it is a lot of fun when facing enemies.
Of course, I can’t begrudge the fact that Strayed Lights can be a bit easy since some players like Souls-like games but quickly give up because they are too intense and too difficult. With only a handful of enemies to learn from, you quickly pick up their patterns and can then quickly work through them.
Strayed Lights is a visually stunning experience
One small point I did like, though, is the fact that you can’t kill an opponent unless your energy gauge is full. Each enemy generates a specific amount of energy with each hit you make, making the fights sometimes longer, and other times shorter. Additionally, the different combos you can perform in battle make the game feel a bit more like a hack and slash, much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or even Skyward Sword.
Having a skill tree to obtain new techniques, you’ll soon be looking for ones that could prove a reliable asset for your parries and sequences. There aren’t a lot of skills to invest in, I’d say there are about a handful of skills you’ll be working towards and you’ll unlock things like the chance to stun, an easier way to parry, more health and so on. These abilities help in the long run so it’s wise to get them as quickly as you can.
That said, I do have to mention one thing: Strayed Lights is visually stunning. It reminds me a bit of the art style of the films that Pixar Animation used to make before they were bought by Disney. I would even say it reminds me of Ori and the Blind Forest or Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It’s easy to sometimes stop and take in the views offered to you because there is so much to take in and enjoy. There is a lot of beauty with open landscapes filled with some impressive waterfalls, open fields, and horizons. I’d say it is on par with some of the greats like Journey in environmental beauty.
Strayed Lights is a visually stunning experience that is also polished and has a ton of fun. While it may not be a long game, it is packed with excitement thanks to its brilliant parrying system and combat. Some of the bosses will stick with you after the credits roll and Embers has delivered a solid video game that is built on a solid foundation.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PC