I have gotten a chance to play Strayed Lights, and I have a few things to say, some; of it good, some of it bad, and truthfully it is not a bad game.
Strayed Lights is a game that I can enjoy, but it is not a game; that gets me excited as I was hoping it would.
Now, Strayed Lights is an Action RPG with minimal story-telling, and I stress the minimal story-telling aspect as the story; is conveyed through an unspoken narrative by character actions, reactions, and the overall gameplay; in this sense, it relies heavily on the characters facial animations and body language to convey the story; I do like this as it means that the game is more accessible to those across the globe, as body language is an aspect that we all as a species typically share.
When we get to the actual gameplay of Strayed Lights, for lack of a better word is disappointing. The first reason is that all the areas you visit in the game’s world are massive. But there; is a distinct lack of content filling these worlds outside of collectibles and a few encounters with enemies.
If; you need a real-world equivalent to draw a comparison of this, think of walking to your closest town and never once encountering a car or person until you have reached your destination. It is barren, void of any; and all life, and after walking for a while, you encounter enemies that you can fight.
I have to say, however, that the fighting aspect of Strayed Lights; is also quite basic, but in a good way. When we think of open-world combat, we typically think of single-button combo games such as Batman Arkham Asylum, City, and Knight. Then we also have others such as Mad Max and even Shadows of Mordor. These open-world games have paved the way to show us that we can have simple things, and they can be good.
Strayed Lights happens to be one of those games where simple combat mechanics translate perfectly to the gameplay. However, there is one area where I must admit that Strayed Lights has a problem. And that is timing. You see, in Strayed Lights, combat is handled by either attacking or parrying, much like Seriko Shadows Die Twice or Dark Souls games; I am not particularly good at those titles, so, full disclaimer you may not have any issue with this as I did.
When you are in combat, the enemies will change into one of three colors, blue, orange, or purple you must match the enemy’s color by changing to match; what color your enemy is and then parry the attack with your parry button, sound easy, right? Well, parrying is the easiest part of this. When the enemy turns purple and launches an unblockable move, you need to master; the timing of the dodge, which is difficult. So, you can expect to fail a lot.
Which brings me to the next part, failure is okay. In Dark Souls; for example, if you; died, you would spawn back at the bonfire, and you will lose the souls you have collected; up until that point. In Strayed Lights, you do not have that problem. It spawns you back just before a boss fight or just before the enemies that killed you, without losing any of the enemy’s drops or area collectibles that; you have collected up until that point.
In short, the combat of Strayed Lights; is best summarized with a quote from the famous Chinese General Sun Tzu in which he states: “Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack” as defending and countering is your best strategy for overcoming almost every encounter in Strayed Lights. And is especially true; when you reach boss encounters, at which point. You will have to play defensive before being allowed to finish the boss fight, which happens with quick-time events.
That is correct! Strayed Lights uses the dreaded quick time events (QTE) that every gamer has a deep loathing for, albeit a lot of the QTE events are long and drawn out, giving you ample time to respond and act accordingly, but it begs the question, why?
I do not see any reason why Strayed Lights needed QTE’s, and it feels like it takes away from the gameplay instead of adding to it. When you are in the middle of a pretty awesome cutscene, only for it to prompt you to push a button, it ends up being an immersion breaker.
The worst part is that Strayed Lights is bountiful with wonderful and amazing cutscenes, each one conveying the looks of fear, anger, and rage in all of the characters that show up during gameplay, and each one telling a story by their facial expressions and body language. Then to have it all ruined by a prompt on the screen overtop of all of the action is just wildly disappointing.
Lastly, I feel I should talk about Strayed Lights leveling system; it has a skill tree! If; you are familiar with what a skill tree is. Then you already know what this means. But, for those who are unaware of what skill trees do, it allows you to customize your character to act in a certain manner or increase their stats. In terms; of Strayed Lights, your skill tree allows; you to enhance your health, time to parry attacks, and even increase; how often you can use special abilities in combat, such as powerful moves.
Then as you defeat bosses, you gain more ability points to unlock; additional abilities to further develop your character and your skills to become the ultimate character.
Truthfully and conclusively, Strayed Lights does not have a lot going on with its vast open worlds and sparsely placed enemies. The lack of a vocal storytelling also leaves a lot to be; desired. The music does set the tone well with a very intense but withdrawn atmosphere. But, where Strayed Lights shines the most is in its combat system with its simple parry and attack strategies that keep your character healed while also being engaged in the combat, as parrying heals you.
I feel that Strayed Lights could have been a bit better than what it currently is, but by no means is it a bad game; in any right. It is just a game; that has dreamt to big.
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