Strayed Lights review for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Platform: PC
Also on: Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4
Publisher: Embers
Developer: Embers
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

As someone whose style of play tends towards impatience, I have to say I?m eager to get beyond this current moment when seemingly every other game is trying to copy or incorporate some element of Dark Souls/Bloodborne/Elden Ring. I understand that those games are absurdly popular with a specific subset of gamers, but as someone who doesn?t particularly enjoy trying to perfectly time dodges and parries, it doesn?t do anything for me.

In Strayed Lights, pretty much all you do the entire game is dodge and parry. Needless to say, it wasn?t exactly my favourite game.

Obviously, I?m oversimplifying things a little. While combat ? or whatever you?d call blocking, dodging, and parrying ? is a big part of the game, an equally big part is exploring Strayed Lights? dreamlike world. It?s unfortunately a little too vast and empty to be really interesting, but there?s still something to be said for wandering around big, empty spaces to a score created by Austin Wintory ? who, having created the music for Journey and Abzu, knows a thing or two about music that?s well-suited to big, empty spaces.

Likewise, while the story isn?t particularly deep ? you?re a tiny being of light trying to rid the world of darkness and corruption ? it?s cute enough that it?s hard to feel any real animosity for it.

But as I said above, the combat really doesn?t do Strayed Lights any favours. Your being of light can attack enemies, but the attacks are weak enough that there?s barely any point. Instead, nearly all your encounters with enemies are built around matching your colour with that of your enemy (if they?re orange, you turn orange; if they?re blue, you switch to blue), waiting for their arm to come swinging down at you, and parrying at the last second to block the attack.

Then you do that again. And again. And again. And again ? until, finally, the enemy is so weak, you have an opening to push energy at them to finish the counter and purge the darkness, at which point they just kind of vanish. For all the time each encounter takes, the ends always seem a little anticlimactic.

Add those drawn-out, repetitive encounters to a world that?s kind of empty, and you can see why Strayed Lights is a difficult game to love. It looks and sounds nice, and if you?re really into dodging weaving rather than charging into battle I could see how it might be interesting in small doses, but as it stands, it doesn?t feel like there?s enough here to really make for a satisfying game.

Embers provided us with a Strayed Lights PC code for review purposes.

Grade: C+