Strayed Lights Preview

by Peggy Doyle

Strayed Lights

I'll be honest, I had never heard of Embers game studio or their debut game Strayed Lights until last week when I got a message from our editor, Adam. The message said simply, would you like to cover Strayed Lights, it looks like a ‘you' game. He knows my love for beautiful indie games, especially from small studios. I love atmospheric games with gorgeous graphics and sublime soundtracks. I have a type. Since I hadn't heard of it, I took a quick look on the internet and saw the only thing I needed to see to get me to cover it, the soundtrack is composed by Austin Wintory. If you've played Abzu or Journey, this will make sense as they were Wintory's soundtracks as well. I was given access to a preview on Steam and although I wasn't given a lot of time with the game, it was enough to know that Strayed Lights is something special.

Strayed Lights

Embers is a small studio founded in Strasbourg in 2019 and Strayed Lights is their debut game. There is clearly a lot of passion surrounding this game, and a lot of heart and soul was poured into it. From what I had the chance to play, it definitely doesn't feel like a debut game to me.

Strayed Lights

The description of Strayed Lights is that it's an ‘atmospheric action-adventure with fluid combat and an intricate world imbued with mystery'. You start the game as a small child made of light, literally toddling your way though the world, growing light and seeking transcendence. As you encounter your first monster, you grow into an adult, and your light is taken away and is replaced by darkness. It's a dramatic sequence and quite moving.

You battle ‘monsters' who are evil because of what is inside them, and your job is to free them from their torment. At least that's what I'm getting from what I've played. As there is no dialogue spoken or written, it's just you, the music, and the feeling you have as you move through the world. Strayed Lights is a dreamlike interpretation of life. Facing difficult decisions and battles and choosing to grow and change. The purposeful choice to not have dialogue lets you create your own story and interpretation for the events in the game. I only played an hour, and I can't wait to play more of it to see how it unravels.

Strayed Lights

The combat is simplistic mechanically, relying on parrying and dodging primarily. The enemies alternated between colours, and you use the Left Bumper to toggle between your two colours to match up. Matching the colours means a successful parry and you get some health back. Orange and blue are the two attacks but the enemy can also use purple, which can only be dodged. Perform enough perfect parries and you will fill up an energy meter at which point you can unleash a deadly attack at your opponent. It can be frustrating at times to get this to pair up but it's satisfying when they do. If you are not keen on timed attacks and battles, it may not be exactly something you will enjoy, but if I'm being honest here, I dislike those types of games, but didn't find the combat particularly difficult in the time I spent playing. Sure, I died a few times, but eventually got my timing down and succeeded.

Strayed Lights

Strayed Lights is more than just combat. You have a gorgeous world to explore, finding some light orbs along the way that you will use to upgrade. The colours are beautiful, and light/shadows seem to be done well and put to good use. I can see and sense the theme everywhere in the game and the world. As mentioned in the beginning, the soundtrack is reason alone to be excited about Strayed Lights. Austn Wintory's previous works speak for themselves. He's one of the best in the business and Strayed Lights music is in fantastic hands here.

Strayed Lights

Since the game relies on colour for the combat, I reached out to ask about accessibility options, specifically for colour blindness. I was told that the whole colour scheme was planned with consideration for colour blindness and that they are natively compatible with every form of colour blindness. The only other accessibility option I asked about was the ability to turn vibration off, as I have some issues with circulation in my hands that can be painful if the controller vibrates too much. That option already exists in the demo I played, and I confirmed it was there, I just didn't think to look for it before starting. Seeing as those two items were covered, I am hopeful there will be additional accessibility features as well at launch.

Strayed Lights

Since I only has a small amount of time with Strayed Lights, I have a lot of questions. I am curious how the narrative will play out for sure. I want to know more about the combat and the skill tree that you can unlock. I am a bit worried that the combat may become too difficult eventually, but I'm hoping that isn't the case.

Embers debut game, Strayed Lights, has ignited a spark of curiosity and I can't wait to see more of it when it launches on Xbox this Spring.

**Strayed Lights (early access demo) was provided by the publisher and previewed on PC with a controller**

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