Strayed Lights Review – Beautiful, Addictive and Epic

Strayed Lights Review

Embers’ first foray into video games is an audacious title that takes inspiration from a number of iconic titles. Elements of Ori and the Blind Forest, Ikaruga, Journey and Sekiro are evident in Strayed Lights’ DNA, but will this amalgamation spawn a truly magnificent experience?

Born in a strange land where beasts dwell, you quickly grow into a human-esque creature and begin to rid the world of threats. With no dialogue whatsoever, there is no real context to your adventure. You are simply left to wander the stunning environment and discover what lies within. While some may crave a clear narrative that gives further meaning to the intoxicating surroundings, Embers creates a lovely layer of intrigue with its open ethos. 

It’s Time to Strike

Gameplay is at the forefront. You quickly encounter intimidating beasts and must vanquish these in order to proceed. Enemies serve up vicious strikes which require you to parry in order to build your meter to unleash a powerful retaliation. Due to this, you will need to read your opponent’s attack patterns and counter accordingly. Although this may sound daunting, the window to parry is quite generous. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get splattered but you do not need From Software-level timing to take out foes. 

To raise the stakes further, you must match the attacker’s color when you deflect strikes. This adds an addictive rhythmic aspect to combat which makes each battle a joy. In addition to this, your opponent can also discharge a purple attack which you must avoid. This means you will need to dash out of the way rather than just staying stationary.

Boss battles increase the challenge with more complex attack patterns that require adept skill and timing. These segments are wonderfully designed and give a sense of achievement upon completion. Fights finish with a cinematic sequence of quick-time events which adds an epic conclusion. The cinematography accentuates the magnitude of battles and highlights key moments to create grand scenes akin to an anime.

What Dreams Are Made of

The mystical world is breathtaking. Paths branch off a central area giving you the opportunity to explore whichever avenue you’d like. You can venture in any direction and doing so is simple and fluid. Movement is responsive and you climb onto ledges that have a white lip. If you attempt to get to an unreachable area, you will see an awkward falling animation that is painfully slow, however, this is an infrequent occurrence. 

Even though the paths are linear, the open design and lack of guidance give a sense of freedom. Small deviations are dotted throughout and reward your exploration with orbs that you can use to upgrade your abilities. You are able to select what you upgrade, such as health or offensive skills. You will eventually have access to three different specials which will help you overcome foes. One allows you to parry without switching colors, another stuns the enemy and your final ability is a leaping attack. As you can only use these a finite number of times, you will need to consider when and where to activate these to maximize their effect.

Areas feel distinct. Some house elegant fauna that wanders the area while others contain natural beauties. The variety on offer is impressive and leads to a number of jaw-dropping vistas. Watery floors shimmer under the moonlight to evoke an atmosphere that will draw you in and won’t let go until the credits roll.

An Auditory Triumph

Austin Wintory, the incredible composer behind Journey and Abzu, scores Strayed Lights. Like a true master, he manages to build an ambiance that takes you to a realm that you don’t want to leave. An element of wonderment is introduced to the adventure through Pixar-style melodies that counter the intense action. The contrast between larger orchestral themes and subtle sounds is captivating and enhances the experience.

Strayed Lights is a special game. Learning attack patterns and taking on fierce foes is an absolute joy. Bosses are intimidating and offer memorable battles with cinematic flair. The world is mesmerizing and its mystery is amplified through the epic score. Even with the vague narrative, the game manages to deliver an unforgettable experience that will keep you engaged throughout.

*** A PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher for review ***

The Good

  • Addictive Combat
  • Beautiful World
  • Incredible Sound Design

The Bad

  • Vague Narrative
  • Some Awkward Animations