GAME REVIEW | "Strayed Lights" Shines the Power of a Good Defense
The more mysterious an adventure is, the better. That’s what I realized when playing Embers’ debut video game Strayed Lights, which pushes you into a world that’s hauntingly beautiful. It’s the kind of game that makes you wonder about your protagonist, who they are, and why they are in such a predicament. Thankfully, Strayed Lights is also a lot of fun!
It all begins with the birth of your character: a nascent light. But you quickly grow up and try your best to break free from the shadows. However, many creatures and sibling lights are trying to hold you back from earning that freedom. As time goes by, the challenges become harder, but you'll learn to adapt and fight back harder.
Much of Strayed Lights is focused on the power of defending yourself against the things that try to harm you. Learning how to parry attacks will not only help to gain power, but also regain any health you may lose. However, the name of the game is timing, and trying to be in synch with the enemy is a lot tougher than The Art of War would ever lead you to believe. Fortunately, you can learn a few more tricks that will help to your advantage.
On top of deflecting enemy attacks, you can learn to interrupt an enemy’s impending maneuver. One attack can temporarily freeze them in place, giving you an opportune moment to go on the offense. Perhaps the most effective special move can be done if you deflect every attack in a combo, resulting in getting both an enemy’s HP down and your special attack power up. With that being said, being able to defend one’s self from regular attacks is the best way to combat your enemies, but it’s not always easy.
All of the enemies in Strayed Lights have the ability to switch between different colors. In order to gain the upper hand, you must continuously switch between Blue and Orange shades to match with your enemies. But if they turn purple, that’s your cue to run like hell! Take too many hits when they’re in that mode, and you’ll find yourself having to start again from the last checkpoint.
Embers has made an adventure game that knows how to properly challenge a player. It holds your hand at first, shows you the ropes, and gives you a good idea on how enemies react and attack. But once you’ve gotten yourself into a good groove, that’s when the difficulty escalates at a surprisingly comfortable pace. Death will happen on many occasion, so do prepared to get a little frustrated here and there, but it thankfully never reaches rage-quit levels.
Your light also becomes more powerful as you go through the game. Health will rise, attacks and deflects will become stronger, and you will learn a new ability or two. Plus, watching as your hero connects with a final blow is showcased in a beautifully cinematic way, especially during boss battles with your siblings. In Strayed Lights, you start at your weakest, but you slowly make your way to becoming your strongest.
There’s also a solid message that Strayed Lights pushes in its narrative. Although nary a word is uttered by these characters, one can tell that they represent some flaw in ourselves. Whether it’s self-esteem, depression, abuse, or some other thing that’s eating you deep inside, the game showcases a great story of learning to combat these flaws as your spirit and mindset grows brighter. Even if you find your flame flickering out, it’ll always light up once more when you are ready to try again.
Visually, Strayed Lights is gorgeous from start-to-finish. It may have a simplistic look to it, but the worlds and characters you come across are a marvel to see. There’s one moment in the game where these long-eared fox creatures roam in your vicinity, and I found myself just taking in the beauty of it all until I was ready to move onto the next fight. Austin Wintory’s musical score also matches well with the scenery, with the melodies being both warm and ominous all throughout the adventure.
- Great fighting mechanics
- Beautiful scenery
- Tells a wonderful story
- Some boss battles can be very difficult
Strayed Lights is a beautiful adventure game. It might take you a bit to figure out what’s exactly going on, but it doesn’t take anything away from the solid battles you face. Whether you see it as “just a game” or more of a metaphor for combating one’s inner demons, Strayed Lights offers an experience that’s both fun and empowering.
Promotional consideration provided by David Lozada of Homerun PR. Reviewed on the PC via Steam.