Stray is a wonderful adventure that will melt your heart and chill your base. Find out in our review, why we love the cat odyssey.
It all starts with a fall. A fall from grace. A long, painful fall from the peaceful outside, down to the dark, mysterious slums of the Dead City. But, as we all know, a cat always lands on its feet. Stray is a new adventure game by developer BlueTwelve Studios and publisher Annapurrna Interactive (get it?) and yes, this is the much-anticipated cat game everyone has been talking about. But is there more beyond the gimmick? Is Stray as great as we had hoped for?
Note: There will be no spoilers in this review, you should discover everything Stray has to offer for yourself.
Stray Review: If I Fits, I Sits
Stray puts you in the paws of a small cat. Your goal is to get out of the Dead City, a cyberpunk-y place that is walled off from the outside world and only populated by robots. In order to do that, you will hop, jump, crawl and furl your way through a variety of linear and hub-like levels.
While Stray knows how to pull off a great set piece, the hubs are what really did it for me. From beginning to end, I loved exploring the different areas, which are not just cleverly designed, but also filled with different characters, collectibles and side quests. Stray is wonderfully paced, consistently giving you new tools and possibilities for exploration, traversal and yes, even combat (but I won’t say meow about that).
One of the best things about Stray, and I’m very happy to report this, is the cat itself. The animations are ridiculously great, and you can do everything that you have in your mind right now. Yes, you can climb into boxes. Yes, you can scratch up carpets. Yes, you can curl up and take naps. You have a dedicated meowing button, for heaven’s sake. It’s just absolutely wonderful and so goddamn wholesome. Controlling the cat always feels great. Even though the jumps are not completely free but rather context sensitive, you always feel in full control of the smooth kitty.
Stray Review: Love, Death & Robots
Humans are nowhere to be found in this world, everyone around you is some form of robot. Among those, is your companion in the game, a chatty little drone called B-12. Throughout the game, this friendship between B-12 and the cat is at the center of the story, and it develops more and more the further you go on. Unfortunately, this ended up being one of my least favorite parts of the game. B-12 is just a bit boring. Sorry, dude. He’s great at hacking doors and talking to robots and okay, his background story is sort of interesting. But Stray never quite managed to fill this metallic shell with life.
That is actually somewhat strange, since the writers did an absolutely fantastic job with the other robots in the game. Early on, you find yourself in the Slums where you meet a ragtag group of robots called The Outsiders, who are the absolute heart of the game. Stray tells its story in simple and unflashy ways, but does so with such efficiency and grace that almost every beat hits. Even though the game has no voice acting, the writing, animation and sound design beautifully illustrate these characters and I fell head over heels in love with them. Momo, shine on you crazy diamond. I hope you’re alright, Clementine. Good luck, Doc.
Stray Review: Lo-fi Beats To Purr & Meow To
It’s not just your robot friends that you will fall in love with in Stray, it’s also the world itself. The Dead City is a stylistic knockout. While Stray doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of cyberpunk-like design, it delivers every bit of its world with a level of confidence and sense for style and mood that is absolutely brilliant. Yes, this is the part of the review where I talk about vibes. Buckle up. Because if Stray is one thing above anything else, it’s a vibe game.
Sure, there is a dramatic story about humanity, friendship, survival and all that jazz at the core of everything. But the vibes are some of the coziest and best I have ever seen in a game. I just want to hang out in this strange yet beautiful world. Me, a cool cat and my chill robot buddies. A special shoutout to composer Yann van der Cruyssen, who delivered an absolute banger of a soundtrack. Between dramatic scores, lo-fi beats and odd guitar tunes, the music in Stray is perfect in enhancing the overall atmosphere of the game.
The wonderful vibes are most strongly thriving in the first half of the game, which to me, felt basically perfect. Towards the end of the game, Stray does fall off at least a little bit. It’s never bad, but I did feel like some sections dragged on somewhat and didn’t seem quite as finely tuned as most of the game does. And while the game does a great job of consistently giving you new tools and gameplay elements, it could have done with one more big new thing in the last part of the game. I also felt a bit unsatisfied by the ending, which is fairly abrupt and fell flat for me. Still… the vibes, man. The vibes!
Stray Review: The Verdict
Stray is a wonderful game, that is very easy to fall in love with. I mean, I’m not at all a cat person and I almost cried within the first five minutes of the game. The developers were going for a weird, kooky thing, and they completely nailed it. At least for the most part. While some story elements and the cyberpunk setting are not that original, seeing the big world from the small perspective of a cat never stops being fun and engaging.
And have I mentioned the vibes? I can’t emphasize enough how lovely the atmosphere in Stray is and just how wholesome and moving the whole affair is. It doesn’t completely stick the landing, but most parts of Stray are brilliantly realized and deviously clever. I loved my adventure as a cat and I can’t recommend it enough.
- Rating: 8/10
- Release Date: July 19, 2022
- Developer: BlueTwelve Studios
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Genre: Adventure Game
- Playtime: 6-8 hours
- Players: Single Player
- Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC via Steam