Stray – Review
Stray is a game that I’ve been looking forward too since it was announced, being a cat lover and having 2 cats myself, this really appealed to me, mainly because it was something different, it’s not often that a game comes along where you’re playing as the cat.
The main story of the game is you’re playing as a cat, and during the opening, you’re exploring with other cats, and you fall down into the city below, a city which is devoid of humans and the only things that exist down there are robots and the Zurks. Zurks are the antagonists within the game and if you come across them they will chase you down and try to kill you. Easiest thing to do with them is run and dodge out of the way of them. Anyway, I digress, the main aim once you’re down in the city is to simply try and escape back up to the surface and rejoin your cat friends.
I love how the story begins and how it gives you that bond with your character, you start by playing in a tunnel with your friends, rolling around and play fighting. Which always reminds me of when my 2 cats just randomly kick off and smack each other over the head and sprint around like a bat outta hell. Because of my 2 cats it gave me it a nice way to bond with the main character.
The opening part of the game does act as a slight tutorial for the game, showing you how to jump, which you can only do onto pre designated surfaces, it also shows you how to do with cat stuff like scratching posts and floors and sipping up some water.
When you fall down and end up in the cyberpunk style city underground, it’s not long after your first zurk encounter that you meet B-12, a robot drone that becomes your ally/companion throughout the game. He helps you open doors, translate messages and speak to the robot population that is down in the city. He is also there to give you suggestions in what to do next or advise of what the next task is.
While the game isn’t open world and is linear, a lot of the areas you can explore are quite big and can be fairly confusing to get used to as you can easily get turned around, but after a while of exploring and looking for the memories and other things to find in the world, you do get used to each area.
There are side quests in each area and some of them you don’t need to complete to be able to progress, these are simply there for collectibles mainly. However, there are some side missions that you do need to do before you can progress, and the game doesn’t really give any indication of this, and it’s kind of mainly speaking to people and putting the pieces together, sometimes you may have already stumbled across the item you need earlier while exploring, so that makes it nice and easier.
The gameplay for me is smooth, and you can actually feel like you’re playing as a cat due to the movements you make, and how smooth they are. The meow button when pressed (which is circle on PS5) comes through the speaker on the controller, which has sent my cats into pandemonium wondering where this other mystery cat is, it’s also caused one of them to stand up by the TV and watch the game to see if it’s on there. In this sense, I feel the developers have captured the cat absolutely purrrfectly. If it’s caused either of my cats to start meowing at the controller or TV, they’ve done something right… I just wish I knew what was being said between them.
The game’s setting is brought to life beautifully as well, from dank sewers to the neon lighting in parts, the run-down city, and the environment in its entirety. You get the sense of oppression from the Neo group, that the robots living down there are scared they’re going to have their memories erased, you get that when talking to people, and I love how the scene is set and brought to life in-game.
Overall I would highly recommend anyone play Stray if you can, it’s an experience that is definitely different, one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing through and I will go back to play through and try and get the missing trophies that I didn’t get first time.
Game reviewed on PS5 through PS Plus Extra subscription.