Stray is a unique tale of a stray cat that has been separated from its family and must navigate a mysterious cybercity to find its way back. Along the way, you are assisted by a drone named B-12 and the citizens of this city. Together, you will not only try to escape but also uncover the secrets that led to the city’s fall. What you encounter on this journey may not only surprise you but leave you with a sense of wonder.
Developer BlueTwelve has nailed the animations and identity of the cat protagonist—from movement to sound and even including that snarky bit of mayhem cats are known for. The auto jump feature shows how effortlessly cats move through the environment. When frustrated at sections, you can take your anger out by knocking over objects, creating a mess, or mashing the meow button to express dissatisfaction.
In addition, Stray’s world is beautiful despite being set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Moving through areas like the Slums, Ant Village, and Midtown provides a new experience while still feeling connected. Traveling from area to area builds on the story, and it is largely up to you to explore and discover what happened through memories—the game’s collectibles and story reveals.
Throughout Stray’s story, you meet various robots called Companions who behave with human emotions. This leads to touching moments where they form family bonds or make sacrifices to help you on your journey, creating a strong theme of hope in a broken world. The unique perspective of a stray cat provides a different view of the impact we as humans have on the world. The Zurg represent this impact as an unrelenting force of destruction that consumes anything they encounter, including you and the Companions.
Not quite a CATastrophy
While Stray is a worthwhile title, it is not without flaws. The first and foremost is its short length, roughly six to ten hours, depending on whether you hunt collectibles. Increasing the game’s length would allow for more openness and remove the linear feel. Certain areas, like the Rooftop or Dead End, are simply hallways you move through, whereas exploring the Slums or Midtown is a delight due to their openness.
Part of this linear feel comes from the automated jumps. While the developer’s reason for this makes sense, I often found myself jumping where I didn’t mean to due to the jumping mechanics. This was frustrating, and it would have been a nice touch to explore Stray’s various locations freely. Lastly, the camera became wonky during certain segments, particularly when hiding in boxes or speaking to certain NPCs. This made it hard to spot enemies or see dialogue boxes from B-12.
|Beautiful world.||Short experience.|
|Excellent cat animations.||Linear at times.|
|Fantastic story.||No free jumping.|
|Lots of personality.||Camera can be frustrating.|
|Dedicated meow button(even in cutscenes).|
Verdict – We recommend
Stray is a short but phenomenal experience that we highly recommend. It shines the brightest in its world and story, delivering a heartwarming, eye-opening tale that one wouldn’t expect playing as a cat. A few minor issues are easily overlooked in the grand scheme and do not hold the title back. Overall, Stray’s story is best experienced blind as you uncover much of the game’s history and events through your own findings.
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