Written by Dovepool | Edited by Denayed
As a certifiable cat enthusiast, when I first heard about a game where you could play as a cat, I was instantly hooked. I wanted to learn about everything the game had to offer from gameplay to design, and had high expectations for something new and refreshing in the indie game scene.
For those of you who don’t know, Stray is a platformer adventure game where you play as a cat trying to navigate a cyberpunk dystopian world. The aim of the game is to solve puzzles in this robot city while working to avoid the creatures of a virus that seek to kill you if you stray (haha) into the wrong places. Thankfully, you have the help of a lovely little robot who follows you around in your journey to try and return to the surface; its name is B-12 and he is the absolute sweetest adventure companion.
The puzzles, in my opinion, are not hard. Some do require you to think a bit more and backtrack, but a majority of the backtracking follows pathing that I would do as a completionist anyway, so it didn’t affect me much. Aside from the puzzles, there are little sections of the game where you can act exactly as a cat would: scratching up walls and doors, digging your claws into carpet, and nuzzling against the robot inhabitants that really seem to enjoy the warmth of a cat against their legs. Did I mention that you can meow at will? If you’re feeling really feline-like, knock pots off of roofs, meow incessantly at the robots, and become the nuisance that the fur baby in your own house is. In some cases, knocking things off of ledges may even be part of the puzzle that you’re looking to solve.
Even if you aren’t a completionist, exploring every inch of every area is a must and helps with the immersion of the world. From broken bottles and rotting garbage to half-burnt-out neon signs that barely illuminate the road ahead, Stray is gorgeous and pays a lot of attention to detail and realism.
The story of Stray is fascinating, and you really get to understand how this dystopia was born, even as a simple cat exploring a foreign world. Without going into too much detail, the game tackles friendship and loss in a way that really hit me in the heart. I would be lying if I said that the ending didn’t reduce me to tears from how beautiful it was.
I don’t usually play single-player games as I enjoy gaming with my friends, but Stray was something that my entire friend group could experience by watching my playthrough of it. The game offers both controller and keyboard support; I second the game’s recommendation of playing with a controller, as the control of joysticks makes some of the puzzles and platforming easier.
Stray is played through the eyes of a cat, with a bit of help from a robot friend. Maybe this different perspective is just what we need: a little something to help us see our own world in a new light.
You can pick up the game on Steam as well as the PSN store for $29.99 USD (roughly $37 CAD).