Stray! It’s here—we’ve followed this one for several years now and it’s finally out on the PS4/5 and Steam.
It’s like Blade Runner with cats. And that’s a great thing. This is a marvellous game from BlueTwelve Studio in the south of France. Let’s curl up on the sofa and purr our way through this one.
Learn to Meow (and untangle an ancient mystery) in Stray
With this mighty majigger, the plot begins with a cat amongst its family. They frolic and lounge around a future world. But! The cat is separated.
Lost in a futuristic society, as the cat you must start the journey back to your cat family. And along the why, you have to solve some ancient mystery stuff as well.
All of which is a glorious excuse to discover a cybercity, populated by robot humanoid things, and prowl around the place. Check out those atmospherics!
Importantly for Stray, there’s a designated meow button.
Sure, you can equip with a fancy flying robot friend and an electronic backpack, but it’s the meowing that really matters in Stray.
Alongside the fancy pants technology, you do get some basic cat skills. As we all know, cats have remarkable jumping abilities. And this game lets you explore those to the full.
Once you reach Dead City, you can leap up and down the metropolis and explore, in quite intricate detail, various nooks and crannies of the city.
But you can also travel in buckets, if that’s your type of thing. See the 5:00 minute mark below for the fun and games at hand.
Stray is a magnificent indie game. No denying it. Sure, it doesn’t break any new ground with its themes—dystopian future, humans wiped out, robots everywhere etc.
But its high concept pitch is the cat. And it works a treat.
The attention to detail in making your feline lifelike is absolutely commendable. Right down to the little details. You can:
- Stop to scratch at furniture
- Knead at carpets
- Lap from water sources
And being part of the atmospheric, lovingly created, highly detailed metropolis you enter is pretty damn riveting. It draws you in and you just have to keep exploring, guiding the little cat along precarious architecture in slinky fashion.
Everything is delivered with such stylish panache.
It looks amazing, the atmospherics are incredible, and it’s got an excellent soundtrack (bit more on that further below). A bloody triumph, we tell you, and one of the gaming highlights of 2022.
Downsides? We did encounter a game-ending bug early on with Steam. But the BlueTwelve Studio will no doubt patch up such issues soon with an update.
Elsewhere, some sects of the gaming press have criticised Stray’s length. You get just over three hours of gameplay here. We mean, it’s an indie game. It was never going to be an 100+ hour epic.
And Stray isn’t demanding top dollar, it’s a very reasonable £22.
That’s one of the joys of indie games, for us, the fact most aren’t too demanding on our time. And Stray delivers on that promise with a brief, but memorable, foray into a cyberpunk world with a cat. Meow? Oh yes, indeed!
Stray’s Fantabulous Soundtrack
Along with its looks and gameplay, Stray boasts one of the standout game soundtracks of 2022. It’s by French composer Yann van der Cruyssen.
There are some nods to Vangelis’ work from Blade Runner.
But Stray’s soundtrack is its own beast, showing off an impressive array of dance heavy themes. Some have compared it to Half-Life 2 (kind of accurately).
Other sections reminded us of the slums in Final Fantasy VII (1997). Stray’s slum setting suggests some musical choices could be something of a homage.
Or maybe we’re reading a bit too much into it.
Anyway, there are also jazzy elements. It’s quite the brooding work, we suppose, that knows when to try and unsettle players.
That’s the thing with video game soundtracks—they often have to time their advances with what’s happening on the screen.
At no point does that hold Stray’s music hold it back, though, as this is definitely a fine piece of work. One to make some shapes to? Absolutely.
An Assortment of Cats Watching Their Owners Playing Stray
One of the most fantabulous outcomes of Stray? The clips cat owners are posting to Twitter of their cats reacting to the game.
As you can imagine, cats have still been mightily intrigued by the game.
One of the immediate cat reactions appears to be to storm the screen and crowd it, preening about the place and/or trying to work out what’s going on.
Pawing at the screen, or just staring in disbelief, also appear to be high up the list of activities. All rather entertaining.