The way that combat has continued to evolve in video games over the years has forced me to learn a new skill — patience.
In my early gaming days, I would unleash a fury of relentless attacks upon my foes, until either they went down or I had simply run out of energy. Attack spamming doesn’t quite work like it used to. In today’s games a strong defensive front will open up enemies for bigger attacks, causing even more damage.
This year, I’ve spent much of my time playing combat heavy games that rely on blocking, parrying, dodging, and other forms of defensive tactics. Games like God of War: Ragnarok, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order + Survivor.
Defensive-focused combat is definitely the way to go in Strayed Lights. This game has not only tested my ability in a defensive-focused combat strategy, but I have also taken those skills into other games I’m currently playing (Star Wars Jedi Survivor). I now make one-on-one fights more dramatic by working on my defensive technique, sometimes forgetting to attack at opportune moments.
Early on in the “tutorial phase” of Strayed Lights, combat seemed to only focus on defense (block, parry, and dodge). These actions fill your meter in order to unlock a strong energy blast, which decimates opponents.
We’ve seen these three main tactics in many games before. The main difference from game to game is learning the proper timing. I’ve mastered the art of parrying in plenty of games before. I’ve also failed to master it in others. Once you move onto a new game, the recalibration process starts all over. Parry timing in gaming is something like the shot meter in NBA 2K each year. I understand completely how this mechanic works, but it still takes some time with each new iteration to execute it properly.
I haven’t beaten Strayed Lights yet, but I do like how the game has challenged me to work harder on my defensive technique in games all-around. This has been a great game to take a break from some big story combat games, and focus solely on my fighting skills in games.
There is also an added feature to the combat, a sort of rhythm game-like quality. At the push of a button, your character can change colors from orange to blue. In order to fully block or parry an enemy attack, you must also match your color to the attacking enemy (blue or orange). Purple attacks cannot be blocked, and instead must be dodged. Quick reaction timing and learning enemy attack patterns are great added skills in Strayed Lights.
Strayed Lights is a marvel to behold. The visual style is unique and the world itself sort of feels like the 3D version of Ori and the Blind Forest. The lighting and reflections in this dark, yet lit up world really pop off the screen as you explore these rocky terrains.
Since the release of the PlayStation 5, and it’s DualSense controller, I’ve seen many innovative uses of the new controller. The DualSense is the first big iteration we’ve had on a PlayStation controller in its five-generation lifetime. If you look at PlayStation controllers from the original PlayStation up to the PS4, you will notice small changes, with the overall design staying pretty much the same. New elements were sort of tacked on to this classic design.
The DualSense controller is not only bigger and bulkier in size, but features a few new innovations — including haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. I’ve seen a number of games take advantage of the DualSense’s new abilities in a few different ways, but Strayed Lights is one of the games that using the DualSense in a way where everything kind of works together.
First off, the controller’s speaker is where most of the games sounds come out of. Background music and some other environmental sounds come from the TV, but the DualSense controller is in charge of most sounds caused by the player — especially when it comes to battle.
Second, the haptics are being used to complement the sounds, and the adaptive triggers are being used in such an interesting way. In fact, I don’t think I’ve felt a trigger have so much resistance since I was playing Deathloop early on and ran out of ammo. The L2 trigger is tight and almost unusable, until it is ready.
I first noticed Strayed Lights during a PlayStation State of Play. I was immediately interested in the visuals of this project. I will say that the gameplay definitely is on par with that early trailer.
I have been playing a lot of bigger games lately, this game feels a bit smaller, but still not like a tiny game. There’s a lot going on here, and the developers put a lot of work into making this game feel right. Some games may look great in a video, but you’ll never know how it feels until you play yourself, and this game feels great.
I have really enjoyed this exercise in defensive combat called Strayed Lights. I look forward to coming back to it when I become frustrated with my defensive combat techniques in other games.
*Strayed Lights is available on PC and consoles.
**myVGBC.com was given a review code for Strayed Lights by the publisher.