Strayed Lights review

by on April 25, 2023
Release Date

April 25, 2023


Strayed Lights is an indie action adventure game from Embers that casts you as a “tiny flickering light seeking transcendence”. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface, consider also that I only know that because of the Steam page. Regardless of what you interpret Strayed Lights as when you play it, the game itself makes no effort whatsoever to contextualise what’s happening.

It begins with you as a newborn creature made of light, who descends quickly into a violent world of shadows and wind. The tutorial is a boss fight against a large being of light, which you must be defeat by matching your colour to its attacks. You can either be blue or orange, while purple attacks simply have to be dodged.

Strayed Lights

Parrying negates all damage, while parrying with the right colour also restores health. Defeating any enemy restores health too, while dying sets you back to a recent checkpoint. There’s a sense of the Soulslike about it at times, in the way you must block, parry and evade, but Strayed Lights is less challenging than that.

The biggest problem I have with Strayed Lights is that I have no idea why I’m doing anything. During the first area, you help out a smaller, presumably weaker being, who then becomes a boss for a while, and then is a friend again after you beat it. And I don’t understand any of it. Maybe there’s a deeper meaning and I’m just not reading the flow of events correctly, but Strayed Lights has no dialogue or even flavour text. The only words on screen are tutorials.

Which meant that for the whole 5 or 6 hours it lasts, I was just plodding on for the sake of it. I had no idea what was at stake, why I was born with the power to fight, why some of these little light dudes becomes huge monsters sometimes, or why the world is the way it is at all.

Strayed Lights review

I’m all for environmental storytelling, but I wasn’t really seeing that in Strayed Lights, either. The world is certainly atmospheric, and it’s clear which atmosphere it’s trying to convey – but why? Why is it dark and corrupt? Why are there weird glowing pink eggs in the hub area that seem to only unlock concept art? It’s bizarre, and within an hour or so it was frustrating me. There’s no hook here to pull me on – and even the above average gameplay can only carry it so far.

Minute-to-minute gameplay is fine. It takes some time to get used to switching states between enemies, but it’s not nuanced enough. For instance, when you fight two enemies at once and one is charging you with purple attacks and the other is attacking with a colour, it’s easy to trip up. Likewise if one enemy is orange and the other blue – you’re only blocking one of them properly. You can earn two types of skill points to improve your overall stats or unlock new skills.

Once an enemy is weakened enough, you press a single button to destroy them and absorb their essence, which translates into one skill point per enemy. These skills are mostly used in combat. One, for example, allows you to do a powerful frontal attack that disrupts enemies, while another lets you heal regardless of what colour you’re parrying for a limited time. None are really game-changing, but they are helpful.

Strayed Lights review

Strayed Lights is a nice enough game to put a few hours into, but the lack of any real story makes it all feel a little forgettable. The combat is serviceable, but colour matching enemies is nothing new, and once you’ve got the basics down it never really changes that much unless you’re fighting a boss. These gargantuan beasts do offer a challenge, and each is a genuine spectacle, but without context or reason, you’re just going through the motions because video game.

For a game designed by a relatively small indie studio, Strayed Lights is more than competent in terms of gameplay and combat. The problem is that, while the world is pretty and the peril real, nothing is explained or given meaning. The result is a strong sense of disconnect that I couldn’t ignore. Some of you may have a different experience. This is certainly a very beautiful and atmospheric experience, and for many that will be enough, but I found Strayed Lights to be simultaneously too safe and too obtuse to be an instant classic.


Looks pretty
Combat is fluid


No context to anything
World is very dark
Feels a little samey

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

For a game designed by a relatively small indie studio, Strayed Lights is more than competent in terms of gameplay and combat.