RE-STRAY-NED



  • Gamers have been popping about Stray ever since it came out on the 19th of July and it's very easy to see why.

    STRAY has you playing as an adorable cat, who initially ran with a pack of like-minded felines, until something unfortunate happens to the cutesy furball, and it becomes separated from its mates.

    This cuddly kitty has a bunch of adorable cat mannerisms such as clawing surfaces, rubbing its furry body against strangers, paw-pushing shelved objects to the ground and meowing all the live-long day. Some catisms are missing like cat fights, licking of the leg and the paw behind the ear, but the details BlueTwelve Studio have implemented are app-paw-ciated regardless.

    The journey in which the nameless stray cat embarks, is one ignited by neon-lit city streets, brightly-colored corner-shops and darkened but curious alleyways. You will jump up to creep along the sides of buildings, descend to the ground on a metal bucket, engage in sequences where you're hounded by parasitic Zurks, who will devour the cat if too many attach themselves to its body, and stealthily skulk around to avoid enemy drones by hiding in shadows and using environmental cover to shield yourself from their line of sight.

    Along the way you meet a drone bot called B-12, who accompanies you on your way, who manages to be a helpful resource as the plucky bot aids you in solving puzzles, lights the way in pitch black and translates character dialogue, so the stray can understand what is being said during conversations.

    STRAY does a nice job of keeping you engaged because the pacing is so sharp and on-point. You will feel the gradual progression of challenge during this brief cat adventure and it's a pleasant breeze most of the time, and the sense of humor as well as the unearthing of backstory will keep players engaged nicely.

    My biggest bugbear with Stray came after completing the game-in the form of an emerging realization. I feel that, while I retain that Stray is a pleasing cat-centred adventure, underneath I think it's too dank and too obsessed with running away and adventuring, that the pleasures of playing as a cat are lost somewhat.

    There's nothing wrong with giving us something more colorful and inspired, we're playing as a cat for crying out loud-do we have to pounce around in grimy streets where there is no true connection to be had, save for the minor connections you drum up with the friendly AIs?

    If I'm honest, the reason I think people love Stray is because you play as a cat, it's like there's no other reason gamers love the game, but enjoy the cat experience and those insatiable foibles they possess. Nothing wrong with that, but I personally look for something deeper and juicier, sadly STRAY doesn't quite hit it, though the backstory and the inscrutable qualities of its world almost synchs it.

    I know it's like a triple A decision that Stray has to be dark and dangerous, but hey at least it's short, cuddly and relaxing save from a few dramatic moments, where you feel the cats pulse racing and risking its 9 lives.

    Stray is a decent and pleasant game, I can understand why some would give it a GOTY contender nod, it's a cool game that I support. At the same time I pine for ambition and something that has more vibrance and a greater sense of playfulness. Yes I'm hard to please at times, but I don't want the feeling that the game is bounded by triple A tropes. Stray is a good game and it'd be wonderful to see more from it in the future-so long as it doesn't cough up furballs.