Strayed lights is an upcoming soulslike developed by Embers set to release in April, 2023 and we got access to an early demo.
Strayed lights is a pretty forgiving soulslike, even though the combat is mostly parrying you don’t need to expect something insanely difficult like in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game takes it easy on the player and forgives a lot of mistakes done in combat.
The gimmick is that enemies switch between blue and orange colors, meaning that your color also has to match theirs for the parry to register, combat encounters can be won only by parrying, since your goal is to fill your energy bar.
Control-wise, Strayed Lights has a different layout than most soulslikes, the muscle memory from previous titles gets in the way a bit, but the game has a really fun and cinematic tutorial that helps to solidify the game’s control scheme.
Strayed Lights looks really good, and the boss fights that we got so far were really fun spectacles. Unfortunately, the game’s more casual nature makes it so the bosses don’t really pose much of a threat.
I’m not the difficulty police, games can be easier experiences if they want to be. The game’s more easy-going nature doesn’t cater to the hardcore soulslike niche audience, but that doesn’t mean combat can’t be difficult at times.
The game’s first boss gets into a pretty good rhythm of switching the color of his attacks really fast, which tripped me up a lot until I learned his patterns. The player does restore big chunks of health on successful parries, though, so it is easy to recover from mistakes.
Enemies can only be finished off when your energy bar is filled, and the bar seems to adapt to each encounter, as you will never have knocked out enemies without a full energy bar. The bar also seems to take a bit longer to fill up on boss encounters, which gives you more time to engage with their fun movesets.
Combat feels much better to play by only parrying, as the character’s three hit combo feels like an afterthought, only added so people used to more conventional hack-and-slash games don’t miss it.
Enemies are already damaged by parrying, so the game can be played by completely ignoring it, only pulling it out as a counter triggered by one of the upgrades.
That said, the demo is nowhere near a complete look into the game, so maybe through different upgrades the attack becomes way more viable and incentivizes a more aggressive playstyle. It’s too early to judge Strayed Lights on such specific things.
Visually, Strayed Lights is stunning, and looks like a 3D entry of something like Ori and the Blind Forest, the demo only gives us access to the first level of the game, but if the other environments are as pretty, then Strayed Lights nailed its art design.
The game has an upgrade tree which allows you to get a few more moves, including one that allows you to ignore the color restrictions on parries for a while.
One of the upgrades allows you to charge your parries, which sounded great at first, but threw my timing off completely, as now any longer press of the parry button would start charging it by accident.
Strayed Lights’ performance isn’t perfect on PC, the game is prone to stuttering and dropping frames when some attacks go off, this isn’t constant but happened enough for me to make a note of it.
I also had a few crashes here and there after moving from the game’s upgrade area to the actual map. However, this is an early demo, so we hope the final release fixes those issues.
I am extremely curious to see what other crazy boss fights we’ll get out of Strayed Lights, and I also hope to see a bigger upgrade tree, with some crazier moves, hopefully on a more polished final release.
Strayed Lights is set to release on April, 2023, for the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).