Strayed Lights – Review
Follow Genre: Souls-like, adventure game, platformer
Developer: Embers
Publisher: Embers S.A.S.
Platform: Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Strayed Lights – Review

Site Score
Good: Satisfying and addictive combat
Bad: Platforming gameplay is clunky
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The least we can say about French indie studio Embers is that they know how to make an entrance. With their highly anticipated, self-published debut title Strayed Lights, the studio attempts to hit the ground running, offering up something that immediately impresses purely based on its aesthetics. Of course, a good game needs to do more than just look pretty, so we took Strayed Lights for a spin to see if it could live up to the hype.


It’s quite difficult to explain Strayed Lights’ story, as the majority of it is never explicitly told, but is left up to the player’s interpretation instead. That’s not to say that the game is light on narrative, but with no narration or dialogue present, it’s difficult to contextualize things without overexplaining them. Players take on the role of a newborn light, birthed out of embers, and must take on a hostile dark world. Yes, Strayed Lights’ main theme is literally the battle between light and darkness, but things aren’t black and white. If you pay attention to the events that unfold on screen, you’ll be able to discern various moral layers and ethical themes without having them outright explained to you. It’s an unusual but interesting manner of storytelling that rewards players for immersing themselves in what Strayed Lights’ narrative has to offer. However, this approach is likely going to be divisive as it won’t land with everyone.


Capitalizing on its central theme of darkness versus light, Strayed Light absolutely nails its aesthetics. Gorgeous lighting accentuates the juxtaposition of gloomy shadows and bright and colorful vistas. Although Strayed Lights’ visuals aren’t overly detailed or realistic, the game manages to strike the right balance when it comes to stylistic choices, with the result looking way better than it has any right to be. The game undeniably looks better in motion, especially since it’s so fast-paced that the static screenshots shown here don’t really do things justice. If there’s one negative thing we need to say about the graphics, then it’s that white bloom effects are occasionally overdone. There were even instances where we could barely see on-screen QTE prompts because they were almost washed out by the visuals. It’s a minor blip altogether though, and we remain impressed by the visual spectacle that Strayed Lights conjures up. Performance-wise, we did notice the game struggle in certain areas, struggling to keep up a consistent frame rate, although your mileage may vary depending on your hardware.


While we cannot laud Strayed Light’s visual design enough, the same unfortunately cannot be said for its soundscape. As we mentioned before, the game’s story isn’t complemented by narrative or dialogue, and as such, voice acting is notably absent. The game’s soundtrack is deliberately understated and doesn’t really draw attention to itself. For the most part, this is fine, although the tone of the music didn’t always match the on-screen events, which did harm immersion somewhat.


As a Souls-like game, Strayed Lights puts a lot of emphasis on its combat, although the game approaches things in a rather unusual manner. Rather than being built around outright attacking your enemies, Strayed Lights is all about dodging and parrying enemy blows. A successful parry causes the enemy’s health to drop, while also regenerating your own health. You’ll need to pay attention to the color of an enemy’s attack, either blue or orange, and switch your parrying move accordingly. Should an enemy’s attack turn purple, you’ll need to dodge it instead. In this way, Strayed Lights almost feels like a Guitar Hero-esque rhythm game rather than a Souls-like adventure game. Upon successfully defeating an enemy, you’ll be rewarded with shards which you can subsequently use to level up your character’s stats. The combat system is very accessible and forgiving too. Unlike in most games, you don’t need perfect timing to parry enemy blows, as you’ll get a generous window to react. That’s not to say that Strayed Lights isn’t challenging, but it’s still a lot less difficult than you’d expect from the genre. The game also prevents feeling stale by shaking up the mechanics with its boss battles, with bosses having more elaborate move-sets and tricks up their sleeves. A boss might hide the color of an attack until the very last moment, for example, which means you’ll have to be extra focused to be victorious.

Given that combat is Strayed Lights’ main focus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the most enjoyable element here. Unfortunately, the game does drop the ball elsewhere. Moving around the world involves platforming mechanics, and here, Strayed Lights feels unrefined, to say the least. Climbable ledges are often difficult to identify at a glance and moving and jumping feels clunky and sluggish. There were instances where the character model didn’t even face the direction that we were moving in, which was jarring. We also got stuck on the map a couple of times, as we unintentionally fell off a ledge and ended up on a cliff that we weren’t supposed to be on, prompting a restart. These are issues that could be resolved with an update or two down the line, and the game can be completed even with these being persistent, but Strayed Lights could have been a slightly better experience from the get-go.

While we can forgive some clunkiness, especially since this is developer Embers’ debut title, it becomes a bit more difficult to justify the asking price, given how short Strayed Lights is. At around five hours in length, and little to no replay value, the $24.99 price tag feels a tad steep, and we’d rather see this one priced $5-10 less. While there are hidden items scattered throughout the world, inviting you to return to collect everything, these don’t offer enough incentive to really pad out the game’s length, especially since finding them involves having to deal with the clumsy platforming mechanics.


Despite some rough edges, Strayed Lights proves to be a fantastic debut for developer Embers. The combat system is accessible and addictive and the game’s visual design is outright fantastic. The platforming mechanics feel clunky and unfinished, and both the sound design and storytelling aren’t going to land with everyone, but the good outweighs the bad. We do wish that the game would have been either longer or cheaper, so while picking it up is definitely something to consider, we highly recommend waiting for a sale.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Strayed Lights - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

1 Comment

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