Strayed Lights Review: A Dreamlike Action-Brawler with a Heart

Strayed Lights is a stunning action-adventure game that takes you on a journey of discovery and transcendence. You play as a tiny being of light that grows and evolves as you explore a beautiful yet dark world of nature and ruins. As you delve further into this world, you will face a variety of enemies and bosses in fluid and rewarding parry-based combat.

I initially got my hands on Strayed Lights during PAX East 2023 and I was amazed by the art, music, and combat. When you boot up the game, you are prompted to use a controller for the best gameplay experience. The combat depends heavily on the bumpers and triggers on the controller. In order to dwindle down the health of enemies, you will need to parry using the correct color. You switch between these colors with the left bumper and parry with the right. Even though your character has some attacks at their disposal, mastering the parry will benefit your combat the most. To some, this may feel like a daunting task but I never felt cheated in the various enemy encounters. When you successfully parry an enemy attack, you gain health and the enemy loses health. Movement feels fluid and the controls feel really responsive which is important when your in-game life depends on parrying. One critique when it comes to gameplay is the lack of accessibility options. With a combat system based on color, a color-blind mode may have been helpful for some. Also, with time, we will see if the timing/parry mechanics need some accessibility options as well. These are things that can be resolved with an update so we won’t knock it too much.

The deeper you get into the game, the more abilities and upgrades you unlock. There are two parts when it comes to the skill tree in Strayed Lights. For the sake of this review, I will call them active and passive. When you defeat boss enemies, you will gain currency to unlock additional attacks and abilities. When you defeat normal enemies, you can use that currency to upgrade things like health, ability points, and stun duration. There are also orbs that you can find throughout the world that when collected increase your energy gain.

When it comes to the overall feel of the game world, I am reminded of games like Journey and Ori. The art style is simple yet beautiful and the creature designs are creative. The environments and creatures throughout the game represent various emotions and states of being. There is no voice acting in this title but there is a ton of environmental storytelling and a lot of emotion conveyed through movement and facial expression. When you add the amazing soundtrack on top of the art, you get a truly unique experience. The soundtrack in Strayed Lights was composed by Grammy award-winner Austin Wintory. I mentioned before that Strayed Lights reminds me of Journey and that is partially because of Austin. His work on the Journey soundtrack is what led it to be the only videogame soundtrack nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score in Visual Media. It is a great achievement when games are able to convey so much emotion through art. If you are really into the art and the music, you can purchase them in the Steam and Epic game stores.

Strayed Lights is a short but engaging experience that draws the player in with its minimalist art style and amazing soundtrack. The gameplay is smooth and engaging and with some accessibility option updates, it will be a great experience for many. Strayed Lights is available now on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch for 24.99 USD.

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