It’s often said that “offense is the best defense” – and with Strayed Lights it’s quite the opposite. Strayed Lights is an action adventure, where the action unfolds without words, and where it is up to the player to interpret what is happening before your eyes.
You start out as a glowing child figure, and after some strange ceremonies, you’re suddenly an adult, albeit still glowing, and must now embark on an adventure into various mystical worlds to cleanse them of possessed and dark creatures. As you may have noticed, my description of the story is somewhat superficial, and that’s simply because it can be a bit difficult to figure out what’s really going on. Unfortunately, this also contributes to the fact that it can be difficult to really get involved in the game’s action, which is also a bit convoluted.
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The gameplay is somewhat clearer, and it’s all built around an exciting battle system, and it works better than it sounds. It’s all built around the fact that you overcome enemy attacks with a well-timed block and thus make yourself stronger, allowing you to eventually launch a single fatal attack. Each time you block, a small amount of energy is poured into a meter, and when it’s full, you can launch your deadly attack. It’s easy, and it works well – but it takes some time to get your brain to realize that you shouldn’t attack directly.
In addition, each enemy can change between three colors; orange, blue and purple – and your own character can switch between two of these colors, namely orange and blue. So that means if an enemy attacks as orange, you have to block the attack as orange. And the same goes for the color blue. The purple attack cannot be blocked, so you must dodge it. The enemies change color all the time and you have to do it yourself, and it gives a kind of rhythm to the fights, if your blocks are successful. However, it gets a bit complicated when you fight multiple enemies at once, who constantly change color and sometimes also attack at the same time.
It might sound like an exciting concept – and it is, but unfortunately it all gets a bit monotonous pretty quickly. Once you crack the code to change colors at the right time and learn how to block, the challenge actually disappears, because the game hardly introduces any new elements to the concept at all. The boss fights are a bit more interesting, but they are more or less built on the same principles.
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While the gameplay may lack some variety and development, the magical world that Strayed Lights takes place in continues to be exciting and interesting. The levels may be somewhat linear, but their design continues to impress, and you’ll come through some worlds that exude mystery and magic. The mystery is underpinned by a great soundtrack from Austin Wintory, who has, among other things, been behind the soundtracks for Journey, Abzü and Flow.
Strayed Lights is a mild disappointment. I may not have had high expectations for it, but it seems like there’s some unrealized potential hidden in there somewhere. It tries to be Journey with a mysterious wordless narrative, it tries to shake things up a bit with an exciting battle system, but it doesn’t seem fleshed out enough and it all gets a bit monotonous, which isn’t helped by the fact that the game can be completed on 6-7 hours.
I’d actually love to be able to recommend Strayed Lights, but it’s kind of hard to do so unless you really like games that are just a little bit like Journey. And that’s a bit of a shame, because there are some really good ideas here that, given a little more time in the oven, could have helped create a really exciting and different adventure.
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