Title: Strayed Lights
Developer: Embers Games
Publisher: Embers Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed on), PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S
Release Date: April 25th, 2023
Embers Games’ new incoming action-adventure title, Strayed Lights, is a beautiful reminder that video games can be relaxing while still challenging your timing ability and your sense of direction (spoiler alert – I do not have a good sense of direction). I was given a one-hour demo to try out, and I found myself actually sad I couldn’t play further when the demo ended.
Though the bulk of the story was not revealed in the demo, what I gathered from it was that there are some light beings being corrupted and you fight them to restore them to their normal light being selves.
In a sense, it reminded me of Polygon’s PlayStation 2 essential Shadow of the Colossus. Though you don’t climb on these giants – at least not in the demo I played – you do fight the smaller ones in order to take away their corruption, and they are relatively easy fights.
Let’s put it this way: when I say I love playing video games, I don’t mean that I’m good at them. I am definitely not the worst player, but I do suffer the learning curve curse when starting new games, and combat is a huge part of that learning curve. With Strayed Lights, the learning curve is so slight and so easy, that I was able to successfully dodge the giants at the right time and felt very comfortable and confident in the game mechanics.
That’s huge. There are a lot of players out there who fall into the same category I do, and picking up a new game is sometimes tricky. Strayed Lights takes the learning curve and makes it as easy as possible and, since the combat mostly consists of you blocking the corrupted lights, makes it super simple.
You play as a light being who has seemingly just been born, following it down on its little adventure toward transcendence. There is no mini-map on the screen, which makes it super immersive yet a little disorienting if you get turned around while fighting monsters. The camera controls are excellent, and only needing to move the mouse around instead of having to click and drag to look around was a plus. The camera is just the right amount of responsive and its smoothness does not make you nauseous.
Battles are exciting, as you block enemy attacks at the right time while matching the color of the attack (orange or blue) in order to build up energy so you can unleash a powerful energy attack, doing a lot of damage to your enemy. You may claw at them as well, but they will still hit you with their attacks while you do so. You also have a simplified skill tree to work up with some helpful abilities and buffs. The purple attacks are corrupted attacks and cannot be blocked, so dodging out of the way as soon as your enemy starts to flash purple is usually a good idea.
I did say Strayed Lights was relaxing, but it does have its moments. Battling two or more enemies at the same time can get a little hectic, especially when they both decide to attack at the same time in different rhythms or colors. But dodging out of the way and keeping only one of them on you at a time does the trick is and very doable.
Its awesome gameplay and the mysterious story are complimented very well by a very pleasing soundtrack. It helps keep the player immersed and invested in the world they’re being thrown into, and it’s actually very relaxing.
Strayed Lights comes out this spring and, after fully enjoying the demo, I will definitely be grabbing the full version of the game.