It's time to discover a post-apocalyptic underground world, meet its robotic inhabitants, and play as a helpful kitty in the unique Stray.
│ Like you, Video Chums despises clickbait so you won't find any divisive content or articles that fuel the console wars here. 🧯
In Stray, you play as a cute orange kitty who finds himself in the depths of a city that appears to be void of inhabitants. Some areas of the city are dangerous to explore as they are filled with deadly Zurks that will attack and start to eat you if you don't shake them off quickly enough. According to the many robots walking around the more populated areas of the city, the Zurks are responsible for the complete eradication of all human life. Meanwhile, the robots ponder on the idea of going upwards and getting out of the dark, dirty abandoned city that they've made home and it's up to you to help them by using your ingenuity and feline reflexes. v1d30chumz 35-172-223-251
Walking around as a stray cat was immediately endearing to me. Moving along thin pipes and jumping from platform to platform feels natural. Combine the fluid movement with cute purrs that come out of the controller's speaker and subtle sound effects as you leap from a tiny ledge to somewhere high above and you'll find yourself immersed in how cats really do see the world.
You can even do silly things to annoy the robots such as knock objects off ledges, scratch up carpets and doors, or even jump on the board in the middle of a chess match. When you scratch objects up, you'll do so by using the adaptive triggers which provide some friction as you damage the bots' property. All of these details illustrate the love that was poured into Stray and I can only imagine how much studying of felines had to happen to thoroughly capture these details.
In Stray, you'll spend your time climbing around the city, talking to characters, and fetching items that they ask for. With 5 unique areas, each one has something different going for it in terms of gameplay. For example, when you're in the main hub area where the robots live, you'll spend a lot of time climbing around the buildings while finding characters or items. Also, you'll be in a constant fight against greedy Zurks that want to take you out in the sewers and in one of the later areas, you'll find that stealth is the best way to get around.
This mix made entering every new area a treat as I looked forward to different gameplay elements. However, some areas can be quite frustrating to explore when you have no map to reference, especially the more vertical cityscapes. I must confess, I often found myself wandering around in circles and feeling lost while unable to go back to someone to deliver an item that I found for them. Some kind of map or waypoint marker would have made these experiences less frustrating.
Exploring the different environments of Stray is a joy given the carefully-crafted, beautiful, but dilapidated world that you traverse. The graphics are simply stunning at parts as they blend the characteristics of a dark and unnatural world filled with metal and electronics with the remnants of organic life that has started to take its hold after the humans fled.
In the areas that contain Zurks (the small, pink, squishy, and lethal enemies of Stray), you'll witness some pretty gross sights where their pink matter has started to cover the walls, forming eggs that are ready to burst and giant eyeballs that follow your every move. Thankfully, Stray does a great job with atmosphere visually and also through its audio that follows the same motif by combining organic sounds with metallic ones to form a soundscape that perfectly encapsulates the game world.
The robots in Stray are surprisingly endearing with most of them talking about how they miss their human friend and although they're initially scared of the strange cat who suddenly appears, they soon learn to love it. The main character also befriends a little robot quite early in the story which allows you to complete tasks that a cat wouldn't otherwise be able to do such as using keys in a door, typing numbers on a keypad, and attacking Zurks with a bright light. Even though the main character doesn't actually talk, you'll witness the fondness grow between new characters and the cat as you meet them which offers a sense of genuine heart to the story.
As you explore each area, you may be given the odd side-quest to find various items and deliver them which adds a little more to the 8 or so hours of playtime. Helping some characters will win you badges to attach to your adorable vest. Plus, there are collectibles called memories that can be found throughout the world and they serve as a way to find out more about your little robotic buddy and other lost inhabitants of the city. Exploring every nook and cranny is required to find all of them.
Stray is a delightful adventure full of beautiful visuals and endearing characters. I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring the post-apocalyptic city from the unique perspective of a feline who's dedicated to helping out the remaining robotic residents.
- + Boasts breathtaking and detailed environments that are a joy to explore
- + Each area features unique gameplay
- + Playing as a cat offers a unique perspective
- - It's too easy to get lost in some areas and there's no map to help with this
- - I wish it had a larger scope