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Review | Stray

"Is there a better game for cat lovers/owners that would love to play a video game where a cat is the protagonist? No, there isn't, and you should play Stray by all means."

by Foggy, 17-08-2022, Edited by: Jim

Need a purrrfect game for you and your cat? Or you simply love cats? Or you want to play as a cat to see what the fuss is about? Well, BlueTwelve Studio is here to help you with that – Stray is an adventure game where you control a cat, and it’s what you’d expect from a cat game. This is one of these indie titles that are both fun, pretty and refreshing at the same time.

The game is published by Annapurna Interactive; you may know them for publishing games such as What Remains of Edith Finch, Journey, Pathless, Unfinished Swan etc. I was not aware of that, and it fits perfectly as Stray is yet another great indie title that I would strongly recommend (and you can play it on PS4, PS5 and PC – it’s even on Extra or Premium PS subscription).

Yes, you can drink from buckets, from the floor, yes, you can lick your paws, yes, you can meow.

Needless to say, you control a stray cat who falls into a walled city populated by robots, machines, and mutant bacteria. Complete population consists only of robots, and why is that is on you to discover, maybe even intervene with your paws. There is nothing out of ordinary to mention regarding the story and the characters. I find them suited for this kind of game, although I never felt any connection with any character except for the cat. I’m a dog person, but the cat was cool.

I would say that the most of effort here went to create surroundings that would make this journey unique. It’s not the same when you’re a cat; there are narrow passageways to enter, small ledges to traverse. There are different kind of situations that fit the gameplay of a cat, so it’s a bit different approach when making a game like this. Kudos on that, I really felt like a cat while playing. What’s most important – I was worried when poor cat hurt her leg, the feelings were present.

Don’t worry though! You know how animals licks their wounds? Few cat licks and you’re good to go! Love the small bits that simulates real life events, especially the meowing!

The biggest issue I had withing the game was on the bonding side. NPC's are well, robots, and the whole idea behind the story is a bit sterile. Still, if you consider the other aspects it doesn't fall too short

Concept of the whole game is finding your way from the dark slums of the inner-city parts while helping certain robots on the way. You will constantly travel somewhere, exploring higher and lower grounds as you go. That also means a lot of neat, unique locations. I maybe miss some nature along the way, but that’s just my personal preference.

Level of details for an indie game is impressive. Since it’s mostly a linear experience it also benefits from that in a form of zero backtracking. I loved scratching with cat claws inside almost every apartment, on trees, on walls… I loved the puzzles, although there aren’t a lot and mostly you have to find the passcode or some batteries. It’s not a bad thing, this is a journey of a cat, it’s here to show how cats are flexible.

All things considered, it’s a pretty limited game, but also not important to the overall experience. Jumping can be done only when you see a button prompt, you can’t just jump all over the place, but you can still fall and lose 1 of 9 lives (lose 9 for a trophy!). Out of all side stuff, I guess the basic “look around and enjoy” the scenery was my number one.

It reminds me a bit of some horror games - the scenes with all the mucus. I loved the chasing sequences, even when you have to hide from the cameras. The cat stuff was fun, which means they presented that POV successfully

Too bad there are only few chapters that have some sequence that requires cat reflexes. For example, one of early chapters is a chase where you must run and avoid the bacteria that latch onto your back. That was so fun! Avoiding radars from flying robots is also a good way to make use of silence of the cats (dogs are louder, a lot). I wish there were more parts where you run for your life, it would fit perfectly to explore how cats are fast and skillful.

The best way to play this 4–7-hour game is to explore every nook and cranny on your journey. Collecting collectibles doesn’t bring much in terms of usability or some extra content, but you do see some hidden areas which will bring joy in a form of exploring. It’s not hard to collect everything and brushing against legs of robots is always fun. You can also listen to music next to a robot with a guitar while meowing, or you can sleep. I slept, why not.

I only wish for more greenery on this journey. Nevertheless, this was a sweet journey.

What more do you need in a game where you can meow during cutscenes? There is licking, scratching, running, demolishing cameras, and jumping, stepping into paint, and messing the apartment floors. Do you need more reason to play this one?

Technically it runs smooth, I had some frame drops in bigger areas. Some parts also had stutters, but never any crash. I played the game on my PS5.

Well, cat lovers, animal lovers, gamers that loves chillaxing games from different perspective – Stray is all of that, and I loved it. It’s one of the best indie games this year, you should definitely try it.

"Short, linear and sweet - not much more you need from games where you control a cat"
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