Cat’s Journey Through Robot World: Stray Review

The idea to create a game about a stray cat came to the authors of Stray quite a long time ago. The developers showed the first frames back in 2016, after which they enlisted the support of Annapurna Interactive publishing house and created their own company, BlueTwelve Studio. However, the official announcement took place only in the summer of 2020.

The project immediately intrigued with its world in which robots live, and cat lovers in absentia fell in love with it for its cute and fluffy protagonist. At the same time, it was not entirely clear from the trailers what the essence of Stray was. As it turned out, this is almost a classic adventure with the exploration of locations and the solution of various puzzles. Such games are commonly called “quests” among our people. How interesting the novelty turned out to be, I’ll tell you now.

It all starts with a picturesque scene. Heavy rain is pouring, drops are rhythmically tapping on the surface of the gamepad, and a small group of stray cats are hiding from the weather in some kind of concrete pipe. Here the player gets the opportunity to run as a ginger cat using the left stick and get acquainted with the basics of control. The developers have allocated a separate button for meowing – this is not the most important function in the game, but in this way you can draw attention to yourself or, if you want to play the role of a real cat, just wander aimlessly around the rooms and meow.

Resting and purring to each other, the furry gang walks through the expanses of an abandoned concrete structure, which is overgrown with moss and grass. Jumping from place to place, you immediately notice that this can only be done near the object – the game does not have a free jump like in platformers, so the cat cannot fail to jump somewhere or fall into the abyss through the player’s fault. This happens only in a couple of moments in the story, but during the gameplay, our red-haired friend is extremely dexterous and graceful. This element is vaguely reminiscent of parkour from the original Assassin’s Creed games.

At some point, while climbing over the pit, our hero slips off the pipe and falls into a dark concrete abyss. Having landed on the garbage, the cat still hears the meow of his friends, but there is no way up. Having recovered a little, the animal tries to find a way out, but eventually stumbles upon a room with a small robot, which subsequently joins the animal. In fact, the main task of the game is to find a way to the surface, but everything turns out to be not so simple, because dangerous creatures roam the tunnels, similar to the headcrabs from Half-Life. Basically, you have to run away from them.

Wandering through dark and dangerous corridors, the cat and his companion stumble upon a small settlement inhabited by robots. They barricaded themselves from these “headcrabs” and have been in such isolation for many years. A small part of the piece of iron wants to get out, but the rest tell them that this is impossible. In general, the plot tries not to overload the player with unnecessary intricacies, but at the same time it is not as simple as it might seem at first. Robots are trying to imitate human society, so there are some oddities here, and the narrative is not without unexpected twists, as well as several touching scenes. There were also sharp social overtones. Although such stories no longer seem to be something original, here it is all unobtrusively served and sometimes comically beaten up.

The gameplay in Stray is built around exploring locations, finding the right items, interacting with objects, and solving various puzzles or situations. Our bot partner keeps in his inventory everything that can be useful for completing main and side tasks. Some items can be examined and some additional information can be obtained. By helping certain robots, the player can better explore the world and understand how it works here. I will not describe the details, because it is better to find out such moments yourself during the passage.

Often quests are made in a classic manner, when you need to complete several tasks in order to get some kind of thing or information. For example, to repair a special receiver, you will have to find a master. After listening to others, you can understand where to look for him, and when you meet him, it becomes clear that he also needs help. He is unable to fix anything until he has a warm blanket – his hands are shaking from the chill. The robot grandmother can help here, but she does not have wires from which she knits clothes for everyone around. You can actually get the necessary cord from the merchant bot, exchanging it for a bottle of detergent, which is also not easy to get … The result is a typical fairy tale “The Cockerel and the Bean Seed”, but everything is arranged very interestingly.

Here it is worth praising the game designers for the way they guide the player on the right track every time. For example, the fact that the grandmother knits clothes for other robots can be learned even before starting this task from the conversations of characters in funny sweaters or robots wrapped in a blanket. Doing all these quests is very exciting and interesting. Sometimes it seems that you are stuck and don’t know what to do, but then you find the answer and realize that it has been under your nose all this time.

It is worth noting that the developers tried to convey the various features of the cat’s behavior and beat it in the game. For example, in Stray you can tear up furniture or rub against the legs of some passers-by, and in order to complete certain tasks, you sometimes need to walk on the keyboard or jump on some kind of lever. In general, it is allowed to do everything that cat owners see every day, but at the same time here it often has a significant plot meaning. There are a lot of funny moments in the game that play off various antics of pets, so now when I see my cat rushing around the apartment, stomping on the keyboard and meowing, I start to think that she is doing some important task and try not to disturb her .

It’s also funny how in some places the standard “human” logic, familiar from other games, breaks down in Stray. Approaching the grate, out of habit, I thought that I couldn’t get through and I had to look for a detour, but it’s impossible for a person to get through there, but the cat manages to do it without problems. A small cat is able to penetrate or quietly get where others cannot, and many interesting situations are tied to this. Moreover, the developers have tried to make the camera angle as close as possible to the animal, so we will often see the legs of robots or various interior elements from a much lower angle, which allows you to better immerse yourself in the game and at some point understand the logic of the pet.

Despite the simplicity and small number of game mechanics, spending time in Stray, exploring the surroundings and completing various tasks, turned out to be really interesting and exciting. The game is played in about seven or eight hours, and they fly by unnoticed.

The authors tried to pay attention to various details, such as the eyes of a cat sparkling in the dark or the ability to throw various objects off tables or shelves. And the way the fluffy backs away and falls on its side when they first put on a backpack with that same partner bot looks funny and very believable. The premises and rooms themselves are designed in such a way that during their exploration the player understands something useful for the task or reveals some details about the plot.

On the technical side, on the PS5 the game runs in 4K at 60fps, at least that’s very similar. It also needs to be mentioned that the cat’s movements sometimes lack smoothness, and its fur seems too plastic, but considering that Stray was made by a small team, the developers should be commended for the final result.

Summing up, I would like to note the unusual surroundings and the cool fluffy protagonist. Stray is a very cute game with addictive gameplay that allows you to take your mind off the typical game routine like shooting enemies or slicing them into small pieces. Instead, you can relax and solve various puzzles with cat-like methods. It is worth mentioning that there are literally a couple of creepy moments in the game that can scare a child, so if you suddenly want to play with children, keep this in mind. Otherwise, if you like quests and cats, then this game is recommended for review. By the way, Stray is available from July 19 in the PlayStation Plus Extra, Deluxe and Premium subscription.

 

Often quests are made in a classic manner, when you need to complete several tasks in order to get some kind of thing or information. For example, to repair a special receiver, you will have to find a master. After listening to others, you can understand where to look for him, and when you meet him, it becomes clear that he also needs help. He is unable to fix anything until he has a warm blanket – his hands are shaking from the chill. The robot grandmother can help here, but she does not have wires from which she knits clothes for everyone around. You can actually get the necessary cord from the merchant bot, exchanging it for a bottle of detergent, which is also not easy to get … The result is a typical fairy tale “The Cockerel and the Bean Seed”, but everything is arranged very interestingly.

Here it is worth praising the game designers for the way they guide the player on the right track every time. For example, the fact that the grandmother knits clothes for other robots can be learned even before starting this task from the conversations of characters in funny sweaters or robots wrapped in a blanket. Doing all these quests is very exciting and interesting. Sometimes it seems that you are stuck and don’t know what to do, but then you find the answer and realize that it has been under your nose all this time.

It is worth noting that the developers tried to convey the various features of the cat’s behavior and beat it in the game. For example, in Stray you can tear up furniture or rub against the legs of some passers-by, and in order to complete certain tasks, you sometimes need to walk on the keyboard or jump on some kind of lever. In general, it is allowed to do everything that cat owners see every day, but at the same time here it often has a significant plot meaning. There are a lot of funny moments in the game that play off various antics of pets, so now when I see my cat rushing around the apartment, stomping on the keyboard and meowing, I start to think that she is doing some important task and try not to disturb her .

It’s also funny how in some places the standard “human” logic, familiar from other games, breaks down in Stray. Approaching the grate, out of habit, I thought that I couldn’t get through and I had to look for a detour, but it’s impossible for a person to get through there, but the cat manages to do it without problems. A small cat is able to penetrate or quietly get where others cannot, and many interesting situations are tied to this. Moreover, the developers have tried to make the camera angle as close as possible to the animal, so we will often see the legs of robots or various interior elements from a much lower angle, which allows you to better immerse yourself in the game and at some point understand the logic of the pet.

Despite the simplicity and small number of game mechanics, spending time in Stray, exploring the surroundings and completing various tasks, turned out to be really interesting and exciting. The game is played in about seven or eight hours, and they fly by unnoticed.

The authors tried to pay attention to various details, such as the eyes of a cat sparkling in the dark or the ability to throw various objects off tables or shelves. And the way the fluffy backs away and falls on its side when they first put on a backpack with that same partner bot looks funny and very believable. The premises and rooms themselves are designed in such a way that during their exploration the player understands something useful for the task or reveals some details about the plot.

On the technical side, on the PS5 the game runs in 4K at 60fps, at least that’s very similar. It also needs to be mentioned that the cat’s movements sometimes lack smoothness, and its fur seems too plastic, but considering that Stray was made by a small team, the developers should be commended for the final result.

Summing up, I would like to note the unusual surroundings and the cool fluffy protagonist. Stray is a very cute game with addictive gameplay that allows you to take your mind off the typical game routine like shooting enemies or slicing them into small pieces. Instead, you can relax and solve various puzzles with cat-like methods. It is worth mentioning that there are literally a couple of creepy moments in the game that can scare a child, so if you suddenly want to play with children, keep this in mind. Otherwise, if you like quests and cats, then this game is recommended for review. By the way, Stray is available from July 19 in the PlayStation Plus Extra, Deluxe and Premium subscription.

Shovel Knight

Game completed on:

PS5

Correct topics:
no

Duration:
7-8 hours

 

Platforms:

PS5
PS4
PC

Developer:

BlueTwelve Studio

Publisher:

Annapurna Interactive

Genres:

Adventure

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