I’m a cat person. This is why, as soon as I saw the launch trailer for Stray, I knew I wanted to play it at some point. I don’t own a PS5, but luckily I was able to borrow it from my wife’s brother. Tactically, I was able to buy Stray as a birthday present for him, and play it myself before returning the console. So here are my thoughts on this gaming experience.
The story of the game is simple. The cat hangs out with his kitty buddies, but falls into a chasm. At the bottom of the chasm you reach a city inhabited by robots. The kitty wants to go home, so the goal of the game is to get out of this cyberpunk city. What makes this problematic is that the city is closed off from the outside world.
As you can see from the previous description, the story can be explained very quickly. It’s nothing special. There aren’t too many highlights in the story after the beginning either. The experience remains a relatively bland all the time. There were maybe a few areas where I was a little surprised when I reached them. The revelations related to the world do not have an impact in any way. Of course, there is a reason why the city is closed to the rest of the world. I won’t say what it is, but it’s not a very earth-shattering reason.
I was initially afraid the game would be a bit of an artsy walking simulator through an empty world based on the trailer. Fortunately, there are also other characters in the world. They are all robots with personalities and names. Unfortunately, the characters didn’t impress me. Even though the robots have personality, it doesn’t save the fact that they are written as boring. I didn’t care for any of the characters. Except for the kitty. Because the kitty is cute. Unfortunately, besides cuteness, the main character doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.
Stray is a really short game. The game lasts maybe 4 hours. This is not really a criticism, because in my opinion this particular game did not need to be any longer than this, because even at this length it was difficult to fully maintain interest at times. So I think it was a really good choice by the development team to keep the game shorter than many games nowadays.
As if it’s not clear yet, you really control a cat in the game. In practice, the player can move, press a button to jump to pre-defined places and meow. The last one is a completely useless function (but cute!). There will be small additions to the gameplay as you progress through the game, but I won’t reveal them so that if you decide to play the game, you something to look forward to.
The gameplay is really bland. Often you just poke around and explore places. Maybe you need to take something somewhere or find something. There are also puzzles in the game, but they are quite straightforward. Some have a fun physics-based solutions.
In places, the game has action scenes, such as escape scenes. These were my favorite scenes. Too bad there were so few of them. I understand that the game is not meant to be an action game, but at times I found myself getting bored while playing it. That’s why the action scenes were good for waking me up.
Being a cat is really well implemented. The game world is full of small things that you can interact with. For example, you can scratch the carpets, drop paint barrels and change TV channels. All the interactions remind me of my family’s cat from my childhood. Felineness is implemented brilliantly in the game. I giggled with joy when, at one point, a harness was put on the kitty, as a result of which it walked really funnily for a while. I remember my own cat doing the exact same thing!
The game is full of small nice details that come across while playing. For example, although I already stated that the robots are relatively impersonal and boring, when interacting with them, different expressions may appear on the screen on their faces. For example, if the cat does something cute, the robot’s eyes might turn into hearts. There are a lot of similar little details in the game, and it’s nice to find them.
Music & sound
I think the music choices are well made for the game. I can’t really say anything more precisely about this, because none of the scenes really stuck in my mind. In general, the music is a bit sad and calm, emphasizing the atmosphere of a closed city. The sound effects and meowing of the kitty deserve a special mention, as they have been implemented in an authentic way. Maybe I can say in general that the music and sounds worked well in terms of the atmosphere of the game, even if the soundtrack itself is not amazing.
The game looks extremely good. A lot of effort has been put into the animation of the cat, and all the animations are lifelike. The game world looks great and is full of details. I got the feeling that effort had really been put into creating the world. Of course, there was an unfortunate amount of recycling of some assets, for example at the end of the game it was really funny that every house had to have the same Hawaiian themed painting. In places, there were also problems with the refresh rates and the game lagged a bit, but these scenes were quite rare.
Stray is a bit of a tricky case to judge. The game works really well for its purpose and looks great. A tremendous amount of effort has been put into its world and small details. However, I got the feeling that the game wanted to test the possibilities of the PS5 in terms of performance. As a result, the game does not bring many new experiences. The story is bland and the characters are boring. You pretty much play the game once, and then it’s left to haunt the bottom of the shelf. Still, if you can get the game cheap somewhere, I can recommend it. For cat people, it’s at least a great work!
- Cute kitty! Which is actually made like a really authentic cat
- Really pretty
- Lots of small and nice details
- Suitable soundwork
- Gameplay is bland
- The story is not anything special
- Robots are boring characters
- You play it once, and that’s it. There’s not a whole lot of reason to replay this game.