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An exclusive interview with the creative director of Strayed Lights, the battler of your dreams


We’ve been keeping a close eye on Strayed Lights. A brawler from new studio Embers, it’s been on our radar ever since we got wind of the Austin Wintory soundtrack (Journey, The Banner Saga) and saw the first screenshots. Like the Ori games, this is a real beauty that comes alive with bioluminescence and a neon colour palette, and we had (and still have) real hopes that it can fulfil its promise. 

Embers have already given us the privilege of playing a preview build of Strayed Lights – find out more here – and they have now given us an all-access pass to their creative director, Alexandre. Read on to find out more about this dreamy punch-a-thon. 

strayed lights screenshot 1

Hi, could you please introduce yourself and your role on Strayed Lights?

Hey, I’m Alexandre, creative director at Embers.

Could you give us a quick rundown of the game?

Strayed Lights is an atmospheric action-adventure game that boasts fluid combat and a mysterious, intricate world. The player takes on the role of a tiny, growing light seeking transcendence, exploring a land of otherworldly ruins and rampant nature and will face entities of flickering lights and luminescent shadows, creating a visually stunning and immersive experience.

Getting an Austin Wintory soundtrack (Journey, The Banner Saga) is quite the coup! How did that collaboration come about, and what does he bring to the experience?

Austin Wintory is an artist we looked up to for many years already. We knew we would love to work with him on a game and we felt our vision for Strayed Lights could spark his interest so we gave it a shot and reached out to him. It happens that it worked and the collaboration began. His music was a key component to create an atypical game representing emotions without words nor dialogue.

The combat systems in Strayed Lights feel completely new, with a parry and counter-focused approach, and the colour-matching mechanics too. Can you tell us more about them, and what inspired them?

Our game design drew inspiration from titles such as Sekiro, where gameplay involves a mix of reactive and proactive actions. We believe that this approach demands attentiveness and mindfulness, allowing for a state of flow. To achieve this, we developed a combat system centered around the parry mechanic, supplemented by dodges to counter unparryable attacks, and proactive actions such as attacks and abilities.

Furthermore, we incorporated a color-matching mechanism that was influenced by Ikaruga. This feature adds an extra layer of engagement to the parry mechanic and necessitates careful observation of enemy movements, including their colors, attacks, and windups, enabling players to react accordingly.

strayed lights screenshot 2

It’s refreshing to find a combat-focused game where the aim isn’t to kill, but to convert or cleanse enemies. Was that something you wanted to achieve from the start?

This was a crucial element from the start, even at the earliest stages of pre-production. Strayed Lights is a game about resilience, improving and finding balance throughout the journey which is life. From this core vision it felt natural not to kill but instead try to support and grow, cleansing what strays us from balance/light or letting it go rather than destroying it.

The expectations around bosses, particularly in terms of their complexity, size, and number of moves they have, have seemed to increase thanks in no small part to the Souls games. Do you feel that increase of expectation? How do you go about creating a memorable battle with a hulking creature?

We don’t feel that expectations have increased significantly, as there are numerous successful games, such as Death’s Door, Solar Ash, Hellblade, and Pathless, that prioritize a smaller number of bosses compared to the Souls series. The crucial factor is to ensure that each boss is a unique character with their own compelling story, personality, moveset, and context. In Strayed Lights, we have taken great care to create memorable bosses by making them embody  emotions reflected in their appearance, environment, demeanor and mechanics.

Finding the sweet spot of being easy to learn, but hard to master is a huge challenge for any game. How have you managed to make Strayed Light accessible but still offer challenge?

We crafted a parry mechanic that is forgiving, there is an entire spectrum to avoid either failing or succeeding a parry. We wanted to encourage you to master the parry, use the color system and complement with attacks in between, which is for us the most enjoyable way to play Strayed Lights. To support this, we made sure that we are not punishing but encouraging the use of the parry. It can be done in the wrong color and/or the wrong timing but still be a partial success, only changing the amount of energy or health you gain. Also we added mechanics to reward those that master it, like the perfect parries when timed precisely, or special counter when you parry long chains of attacks.

strayed lights screenshot 3

The trailers that have been supplied so far have focused on combat, but exploration is a part of it too. What does it feel like to explore Strayed Lights’ world?

Strayed Lights gameplay wise is at its core about the flow of combat and is supplemented by its exploration and story. Therefore, the exploration kit is made to be simple, accessible and used to discover the world, to immerse yourself into it.

That art style of Strayed Lights is very unusual, full of blooming light and bioluminescence. How did you land on this art style?

In order to make the gameplay as readable as possible, we decided to use as much as possible contrasts in colors, scales and levels of detail. Thus, the characters must stand out from the environment, and this encouraged us to have strong lighting effects in often foggy environments.

There are mentions of the Strayed Lights world being ‘oneiric’. Is that how the Strayed Light world connects to our own? Is it a dream world? Or does it not connect to anything we know at all?

It is oneiric in the sense that it is a world in which the reality and possibilities go beyond those of our world, but it has no connection with ours and is not a dream, everything in it is consistent and real for this world.

In terms of supporting the disability community, how does Strayed Lights adapt to give them a strong experience? It must have been a challenge, particularly with colours and dynamic gameplay playing such a vital part.

Our game can be played with only a few buttons and all can be remapped as seen fit. We also wanted to create a challenging experience but we included abilities to play more defensively or reduce the complexity of the game. We also did our best to make the gameplay colors readable for each type of color blindness.

What is it like to be releasing your first game in a month’s time? How are your nerves?

It is exciting, motivating and is a dream come true for us. Our nerves are tested but we feel grounded because we know we are giving our best for a project that is dear to us, the outcome of it is the bonus.

You don’t have to wait long to get your mitts on Strayed Light. It’s due for launch on the 25th of April 2023, releasing on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC, so you have barely a month before you can give it a go. You can be sure that we’ll be there early for a review verdict, too. 

Huge thanks go out to Alexandre at Embers for giving us some time in order to find out even more about the game. 

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