Stray – Review

Stray is a game that immediately captured everyone’s attention when it was initially revealed a while back.  It is about a cat that has gotten lost in this post-apocalyptic city and you have to figure out not only what happened to everyone, but also how to escape.  In terms of mechanics, Stray is a puzzle platformer.  The puzzles you will find through the game’s 12 chapters are fun and varied but aren’t too difficult, which I appreciate.  This makes sure that Stray is approachable for all gamers, whether you have been playing for many years or Stray is your first adventure into this type of game.

Along your journey, you will come across a cast of colorful characters.  You aren’t the only one who is trying to escape the city you are in but you are the one who has the best chance to succeed.  Seeing the world from the perspective of a cat is quite interesting and obviously makes ordinary things seem much larger than they normally would.  The platforming in Stray is a lot of fun but if you don’t have much experience with that type of game, don’t worry.  The platforming in Stray is very forgiving and it is pretty hard to screw it up.  Now your cat can still die in the game but it won’t be because you missed a jump.  If that happens it will be because the main enemies of the game, the Zurks, will have caught up with you and overwhelmed you before you can do anything.

We all know cats have nine lives and the team that created this game took that to heart by making one of the trophies revolve around that.  Essentially, if you want to get that trophy, you will have to die nine times in the game.  Another thing cats love to do is curl up and sleep.  That is also brought into this game with a trophy unlocked by having your in-game cat sleep for one hour.  That is one hour in the real world and there are only specific spots where your cat will sleep.  Once you find one though just have the little guy take a nap for an hour while you go do some errands, cook some food, or do whatever you need to get done.  It should be noted that this one hour does not have to be all at one time.  It can be spread throughout the game so you can have quick catnap sessions throughout your journey as well.  Another trophy is tied into having your cat meow 100 times in a game which should come normally to you as you progress through the story.  As you can see the development team really wanted to do what they could to make you feel like a cat as you navigate the different environments.  This isn’t a cat simulator or anything, but there are definitely some aspects of that in this game.

The puzzles in this game are varied and pretty creative.  One puzzle you will find somewhat early on in the game is having to stop a fan so that you can walk through a vent.  The way you do that is to pick up a bucket from the ground and then hop up to the fan.  Once you are there simply drop the bucket next to the fan, which will cause it to jam and give you the opportunity to get into that vent.  Other puzzles include knocking things off of shelves and walls as a cat would do in the real world.  Another puzzle will have you using your small frame to sneak into a room to get a set of keys so you can rescue someone.  There are also some multi-part puzzles such as when you are trying to get a cassette to blast music in a shop so the store owner is distracted, allowing you to steal an item you need for your quest.  I enjoyed the creativity that was used in designing these small tests and the game felt like the perfect length so nothing overstayed its welcome.

When I first started up Stray, I was immediately assaulted with cuteness.  The cat mannerisms were done incredibly well, the cat sounds were authentic, and overall the entire presentation evoked this “cute” feeling as you started your journey.  The environments were varied as well from the sewers to midtown, to rooftops, the slums, some apartments, and more.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time going through this adventure and I never got bored because of the change of the scenery and the fact that the story is pretty much the perfect length for this type of game.

The main character in Stray is based on a real-life stray that the developers found in France.  His name is Murtaugh, even though the cat in the game itself doesn’t have a name.  As you play through this adventure you can feel the love and attention that went into it.  The game plays well, the environments look great, and it has an interesting story told from the perspective of and seen through the eyes of a cat.  If you are a member of PlayStation Plus Extra or PlayStation Plus Premium, you can download Stray for free and check it out.  Otherwise, you can buy the game either on the PlayStation Store or Steam.  In my opinion, Stray is a worthwhile purchase and I hope that we can either get some type of sequel in the future or maybe a similar game that features a dog.

Score: 8.5/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

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