Hi, in this article I will be doing the Stray review. This is THE cat game. It’s published by Annapurna and is developed by BlueTwelve Studio.
Now I introduced it as the cat game. Because that’s kind of the big thing it had going for it. We’ve never really seen an adventure quite like this one. When they announced it, it was pretty exciting. It just looked cool and unique. You, the player, are a cat, navigating around a sort of dystopian cyberpunk, robot future. It just seems like a recipe for success, right? Well, this is actually a super simple and short adventure, one that left me feeling a little bit empty in spots, but I still think it’s worth experiencing. There’s some really good magic to this one, you know?
But I say that only if you’re into this type of thing, this type of game that I’ll be describing in this article. “Stray” may not necessarily change the world or anything, but it might be the game that some of us needed. Now it’s available on PC, through Steam, and on PS4. And I’ve been playing a review copy on PS5.
Stray Review: Story
Story-wise, just to set up the beginning really, you play as this stray cat who gets separated from their little pack of cat friends and finds themselves in this strange and mysterious, futuristic underground city devoid of any actual living people like there’s something afoul with the city, but on the bright side, it is inhabited by friendly, cool robots.
Now early on, you meet up with a little friendly robot drone that nests into the little jacket that you have, and that robot helps you interface and connect with the world.
What “Stray” really is essentially like a fairly linear exploration puzzle-solving adventure with an occasional change up in the action and gameplay elements.
Moving on you explore open-ish city environments looking for clues and specific little pieces to certain puzzles, but you’re a cat, so there’s a bit more to it than that.
Your cat can walk, sprint, jump at contact-sensitive points, have pretty good heights actually, pick up stuff with its mouth, scratch at stuff, and even meow on command. Like, there’s actually a Meow button.
It’s cool. Meows will often perk up NPCs or get their attention. And sometimes as a cat, you just need to be annoying and knock stuff over with your paw or break something to accomplish your goals.
And the game does do a really good job at the whole cat thing, from the charm and cutesiness of it, and the ability to do certain cat things.
Yeah, but where it really shines is when it makes you feel like a small, nimble creature in a much larger world, The town areas and the environments aren’t usually necessarily massive,
But the way the game uses the camera to emphasize size is great. Like when you’re walking street level, the majority of the camera’s more focused on what is above you, you know, like a little cat on the ground looking up.
You’re probably so used to seeing bars over a doorway or bars over a window that you just assume you can’t walk through it until you realize, oh, well, yeah, you’re a cat. And you don’t even have to squeeze through it. You can walk right through, underneath fences.
Moreover, all the time the camera will shrink down and follow you as your little cat squeezes through certain places.
And the camera really only frees up when you get up high. The verticality and intricacy of some of the areas are really, really fun.
Have your cat very realistically animated, I might add, wind up and jump up to a high ledge and you work your way up a fire escape up to the rooftops.
That’s where it’s the most fun, figuring out how to get around. It’s really, really simple though. Keep in mind, that you’re basically clicking a button.
The environments themselves are really well designed and intricate to really warrant poking around everywhere even if there’s not a ton of stuff to collect.
In one area, you’re collecting certain things for a robot, and throughout the game, you’re collecting little memory bits for your drone friend. Not much, but even if you explore a hidden corner and come up empty,
At least you hopped up somewhere as a cat and knocked over some bottles and it was funny. Sometimes simplicity is good. And I mean it when I say this game is simple.
This is not “Uncharted 3” or “Grand Theft Auto” but with a cat, it’s more like “Inside” or “Limbo,” but a little bit more open.
Now similar to those types of experience games, I also finished it in four and a half hours. That was with me taking my sweet time and really exploring every nook and cranny, and not always just sprinting through every area.
However, note, that it’s not a full-price game, so the price does reflect that, but everyone feels a little bit differently about cost-per-hour gameplay.
Like, dude, I know some people that want to spend $8 and play a game for 400 hours. So, hey, there’s a good and a bad to its length. On the one hand, it’s expertly paced. Every moment in the game feels refreshing and new, nothing gets really old or tired, nothing gets repetitive, and nothing really feels too reused.
Stray Review: Game Mechanics
A game mechanic or a specific ability or something like that is introduced, it’s used well for one scene, and then it’s dropped in favor of the next thing in the game.
Keeping things always pretty fresh. I was never bored. I was always in a new location or hunting for a new thing or using my drone in a different, unique way, or solving a different puzzle.
There’s really not a lot of repeat stuff and it’s awesome. The game’s adventure flows so well, at least it did for me.
Now, unfortunately, upon finishing the game for me, It left me feeling a little bit empty, a little bit unfulfilled.
I don’t need the game to be super long or anything, but it did feel like it ended a bit abruptly, or it ended just as it was getting really good, you know? I wish it just had one more act in the middle to kind of develop the story a little bit more so it would’ve landed a bit better for me.
The game raises interesting conversations about humanity and life, despite being all about robots, and this world is absolutely fascinating. I wish I could have gotten to know a character a bit longer
Or learned a bit more about the world and had maybe one or two more fun gameplay sequences to make it really feel like a perfect, well-rounded journey.
It’s like something slightly was missing for me, but of course, that’s completely my personal opinion. It might just be me.
And it’s really my one issue with a game, that as far as I’m concerned is pretty much all positive. This game does really have some fun magic to it.
Even if the end of this journey wasn’t quite perfect, the rest of it was filled with charm and good vibes. I’ve already talked about the cat’s animations.
And the design of the cities, but the art behind the entire game really is something else.
The robots that exist in this world are awesome and slightly cartoony, the way their faces animate, the sounds they make, their unique clothing styles, and the way they all look different.
All of it is so cool. Seeing these underground cities and lit neon with detailed storefronts and alleyways just makes you want to check out every inch and slowly walk around. And seeing some of the darker, spookier abandoned areas,
Makes for a lonelier and creepier game at certain points than you might expect. All of this is thanks to, like I said, great art design meshing with good graphics.
Visually, the game was great for me. Although I was playing on PS5. Now reports for the PC version so far are a bit mixed.
So for that, keep an eye on some experts, and maybe wait for a patch. But with it looking good and running well, the icing on the cake is really the music and the sound design.
Stray review: Sound Effects
The music hits just right. It covers a few different genres but with a nice sci-fi sound. And with some good atmospheric sound, like the pitter patter of the cat’s paws on a tin roof. It’s just a great thing to play with headphones.
It’s a chill-out game. Like, straight up. There aren’t really any challenging spots. There are only a few ways you can technically fail. You can, if you’re good, probably just get through the game only game-overing once or twice.
It ain’t “Dark Souls.” It’s more of a chilled experience. You know, hang out, turn the lights off, get immersed in this world, light a candle, partake in some other things.
I don’t know, whatever you like to do to relax. It’s really just a matter of whether or not you like cats and vague stories and a shorter adventure.
Stray Review: Conclusion
Personally, despite that one big caveat I mentioned, I was really into this, and I do recommend checking it out. Considering it’s not too expensive,
Or if you can get access to it, it’s available on some of those new PlayStation Plus tiers. You can check it out there. And the fact that it isn’t that long it’s a pretty low-risk investment, I guess.
And there are not a lot of games like this. So for that, I vote yes. But that’s a “Before You Buy.” You know how this goes by now. I give you some pros, some cons, and some personal opinion
And now I want to hear yours down in the comments. Let me know what you think about Stray and your review.
Thanks for being here and reading out my Stray review. Thank you and we’ll see you guys next time.