STRAY: the game that makes you want to be a cat. If you didn’t already, that is.
This little indie game for PlayStation and PC is developed by BlueTwelve Studios and published by Annapurna Interactive. Stray has been high on the anticipation list for many gamers since it’s first teaser trailer, and its many breathtaking trailers since.
You play as a gorgeous orange tabby cat that gets separated from the rest of its family out in the wilderness and eventually finding your way into Walled City 99 – a futuristic dystopian city devoid of all humans.
After the small and a bit heartbreaking opening, you find your way around with the help of cameras and electronics until you come across your companion and travel buddy, B-12. Along your travels, you meet a variety of interesting robots with their own different personalities.
Not only that, but you help them out while trying to avoid nasty critters called Zurks and security drones in the game.
The mechanics are very direct, and the game doesn’t require much thought, but that isn’t a negative. The way the mechanics have been built helps with being immersion of you being the cat.
Though you may not be the one determining where to jump with predetermined jump locations. It doesn’t take away, only helps with your immersion. Especially as you don’t come across a cat just running around, always jumping every time its feet hit the floor in day-to-day life. And as gamers, you know most of us will do that if we had a dedicated jump button.
Though you may not be able to jump wherever you like at will, you can meow. Yes, meowing is an action you can do on your own whim.
You would think that a game about a cat that doesn’t speak could risk becoming very boring, but Stray has a very well-told narrative. It’s best to really experience it for yourself. What most likely got people wanting to play Stray before buying is the environment – and the environmental details are beyond gorgeous and very immersive, with the perfect tie-in touches being the music.
Stray is a hard game to put down, and though the game clocks in around 5-6 hours, you can lose yourself for even longer in the game as I did from just exploring and getting caught up in the locales and getting to know the different NPCs.
No game is perfect, of course. There are some minor bugs with the game. I hit my first at the very beginning of the game, where I couldn’t move when one of my cat companions and I jumped onto the pipe at the same time, which meant I had to restart the game. Luckily that was at the very beginning, so nothing too major. It’s also missing a photo mode, and hopefully, that will be patched in at a later date.
And finally, it’s one of the few games where I wish it were that bit longer. And that’s not a common ask as a lot of developers pad out games where they sometimes overstay their welcome. Stray isn’t one of those games.
Though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is a game that I can’t wait to jump back into, especially to curl up with on a cool winter’s day with the cat I wish I owned.