Strayed Lights review: A cosy Souls-lite game that's worth playing

·4-min read
strayed lights
Strayed Lights review: A cosy Souls-liteEMBERS

Strayed Lights was admittedly a title that flew directly under our radar, but after seeing the initial gameplay trailer and hearing about what Embers had been working on – and after spending a lot of time in a number of large triple-A worlds recently – we were excited to dive into what at first glance seemed like a cute Souls-lite and palate cleanser of sorts.

After picking up the controller and delving into the game, we were left surprised by just how interesting the stripped-back and fairly minimalist concept was.

With a focus on parrying rather than attacking – though you definitely have plenty in your arsenal – Strayed Lights slowly guides you to demand perfection from yourself with every encounter. Figuring out each enemy's unique attack pattern and rhythm is not only key but also hugely addictive.

Sure, we could survive a fight and move on, but we wanted that rush from nailing each parry and finishing the dance with a gorgeous-looking counter-attack.

strayed lights

Related: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review

As mentioned you can go on the offensive, with a normal swipe which can eventually be upgraded to a stronger charged attack as you progress.

You’ll also be able to use one of three abilities: Shock stuns enemies into a brief standstill, Blast shoots you forward with a forceful attack, and Balance, for a brief period, makes your parry more powerful and removes the need to switch colours to match your foe, which is great should you feel overwhelmed by multiple enemies with varying patterns.

Colour-matching here is the twist that really makes combat unique. While you can always parry, if you want to regain health, you’ll need to match the colour your enemy displays when it lands – which sounds simple enough, but as fights go on, enemies will switch colours in tricky patterns and rhythms.

So timing becomes key, making combat almost akin to a rhythm game like the recent Hi-Fi Rush.

strayed lights

The story itself is told in abstract, with no text or voiceovers, and is fairly straightforward. You control a newly born creature of light, who after stumbling through a rather vicious storm reaches sanctuary where you evolve and separate into two beings – seemingly one of pure light and another of pure evil.

After learning the ropes fighting the darker side of yourself, this being explodes into a multitude of shards, each sent to different realms for you to search for and bring back together.

You’ll have a hub world you can explore and regroup, with a chance to unlock some backstory to the whole tale, while each realm has a theme tied to the part of your physique that inhabits it, from fear and fury to delusion. Each area is a joy to explore while always offering a different kind of boss encounter to the last.

During the game's breezy runtime, we never felt like the experience had plateaued or gotten complacent, as every encounter gradually became more challenging with unique little twists and turns to the enemies' rhythms – be it more complex patterns of colour-switching or, as was the case for one of our favourite boss battles, phantom limbs used to confuse just when was the right time to parry.

strayed lights

Related: The best games of 2023 so far

The world itself is absolutely stunning to look at, utilising a vivid style that looks like a living, breathing painting, akin to later titles in the Zelda series. We were excited to explore and just enjoy the surroundings as we searched for hidden orbs of lights off the beaten path.

The game doesn’t hold your hand or rush you to your next destination, simply offering little nods that you’re going the right way with the perfectly-timed swells and crescendos of Austin Wintory's soundtrack.

Strayed Lights is both a cosy, relaxing experience and an extremely well-crafted Souls-lite adventure game – and honestly, it’s a combination we didn’t even know we wanted. With a lavish world, beautiful soundtrack and addictive combat loop, this is a unique title that's easy to recommend.

Platform reviewed on: Xbox Series X

Strayed Lights is now available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

You Might Also Like