Review | ‘Stray,’ a game in which you play as a cute cat, is a meow-sterpiece (2022)

Stray

Available on: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC

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Developer: BlueTwelve Studio | Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Release: July 19, 2022

Under embargo: The contents of the last level and plot details regarding the backstory of the flying drone companion

Several days after finishing “Stray,” I’m still chewing over the right words to describe it. It’s adorable. It’s devastating. It unspools a haunting thread about humanity but also encourages you to lose a lot of time just running around doing silly cat things — leaving a trail of kitty prints through fresh paint, snoozing in a comfy corner, etc. — that have zero effect on the game. That juxtaposition had me invested in the game from start to finish, and its poignant themes haven’t left my mind in the days since.

You play as an unnamed orange cat trying to return home after an ill-fated jump sends you plummeting into the sewers of a dilapidated cybercity. The androids that walk its neon-lit streets call it the Dead City, where they live among what appear to be relics of a once-human population. You team up with a small drone, B-12, that connects to a harness and can hack terminals, translate the language of the city’s robotic inhabitants and unlock clues called “memories” to learn more about what the hell happened to this place.

(Video) THE CUTEST CAT GAME (Stray)

Can You Pet The Dog? In many games, and in this article, you can.

Before you ask, yes, the cat freezes up and falls over when it’s first put in the harness, just like a real cat would. The developers took great pains to authentically capture all the cuteness and chaos of cats in its gameplay. Playing “Stray” felt like a surreal 4D experience at times: There’s a dedicated “meow” button, and my orange cat Cheeto, who lay beside me as I played, perked up whenever I hit it and the sound echoed through the PS5 controller (the cat will also meow randomly — again, just like a real cat).

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(Video) Stray Is The Cutest Game Ever

You can claw at doors and furniture by alternating the L2 and R2 triggers, leaving behind scratch marks, or knock things off tables just because or jump on a stack of books to send it toppling over. Some of these behaviors relate to gameplay — in one puzzle I pushed a paint can off a ledge to break a glass enclosure below, unlocking a new area — but many do not, such as getting the cat’s head stuck in a bag or curling up to take a nap.

The controller also vibrates when you purr.

Your ability to move through the world like a cat informs much of “Stray’s” level design, which focuses heavily on verticality. The cramped alleyways, neon signs and towering apartment buildings crumbling in disrepair become a jungle gym as you parkour across the city, jumping from air conditioning unit to apartment balcony to telephone pole with ease. The platforming is broken up by puzzle-solving sequences that call to mind “Half-Life 2” in how they seamlessly incorporate the environment into physics-based puzzles, forcing you to examine your surroundings in new ways to figure out the solution. You push planks to create walkways, for example, or slip into an overturned barrel to roll it hamster-wheel-style a few feet over to use as a step.

“Stray” is not a difficult game by any means, and the stakes are low: You have an infinite number of lives, and there’s no fall damage. Even still, it has no trouble establishing tension during its more action-packed sequences. The residents of the city’s slum live in constant fear of Zurks, little chittering critters that eat everything in sight and will swarm you on sight. They look like Half-Life headcrabs and latch onto you in a similar fashion. Though I knew I could just restart the level if I died, their disturbing high pitched sounds and jerky movements were no less terrifying, and whenever one got a hold of me I would panic and mash the button to shake it off. Even after you get a weapon (a ray gun operated by B-12 that fires UV rays) to fight against them, they still feel dangerous — especially in numbers. The gun can easily overheat and has to recharge when it does, and that sound of a fuse blowing with a horde of Zurks scrambling toward me never failed to make my stomach drop.

“Stray” is a master class in environmental story telling and level design. From your first moments in the slums, it feels like the city is alive (despite its name), a character in its own right that not only knows you’re there, but is looking out for this poor stray kitty that’s wandered into something bigger than itself. An unseen mechanical force, quickly revealed to be B-12, guides the way. Neon signs light up with arrows pointing you in the right direction, string lights that crisscross alleyways flash one by one to reveal which ledges you can jump to, and you’re followed by the gentle mechanical whir of security cameras as they track you trotting by.

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(Video) WE'RE A CUTE CAT! | Stray - Part One

Later on, after B-12 joins you directly, “Stray” incorporates the lights of the city — the signs, the streetlights, the soft glow from a window — in incredibly subtle way to direct you where to go, even when you don’t even realize it consciously. During a chase sequence with a horde of Zurks hot on my tail, I felt like I was making split-second decisions, but I never accidentally stumbled into an immovable object or hit a dead end. In the city itself, it rarely felt like I was being steered this way or the other, but instead like I was wandering around of my own accord, curious about whatever I caught a glimpse of in the distance. “Stray’s” quest structure mirrors this: Whenever I felt like I had stumbled upon a side quest, it almost always ended up looping back into the main plot somehow.

The bulk of “Stray’s” narrative is told through memories and the bits and pieces of information you glean from your surroundings as you trek upward through the city’s levels. This steady trickle of insight meant I never stopped scouring every area I entered for clues, eager to piece together the mystery of the city’s past. And I was absolutely okay with that, because “Stray’s” world is one you’re all too happy to bask in. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time in a video game doing absolutely nothing. Whenever the kitty curled up for a nap, I would just sit and vibe, watching the camera slowly zoom back to reveal more of the gorgeous setting as gentle music played, listening to the city breathe while a gentle purr echoed through my controller. I delightfully scratched up furniture and toppled book stacks and knocked things off shelves and meowed a million times (mostly because Cheeto would meow back, or go searching for another cat). No achievements or in-game incentives were needed to encourage me to be my most annoying cat self.

I suspect one of the reasons it’s so compelling to luxuriate in “Stray’s” world is because, for a city of robots, it’s full of life. Playing as a cat makes this easy to convey without explicit explanation: A heart will appear on a robot’s face when you nuzzle up against its leg; an angry face flashes when you cause mischief; they trip if you dart between their legs. Delighting in petting a stray cat and treating it with great fondness are traits immediately recognizable as human, even when acted out by a machine.

The biggest competition for PlayStation Plus isn’t Xbox Game Pass

“Stray” isn’t without its faults. It flags in the third act, where it trades in platforming for stealth mechanics that feel out of place. You sneak around a stark, concrete facility that looks like it could have been plucked from any other stealth game, which is a particular shame given how memorable the other parts of the city are. Its controls are finicky at times, too, especially when trying to navigate back down to ground level, which could turn into a battle with the camera to get the jump prompt to pop up on the right surface. It wasn’t always clear why I could jump to one surface but not another either, and a lot of frustration could have been saved with some kind of mechanic to highlight the climbable ledges a la the Horizon series.

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(Video) This Is The Most Adorable Game Ever - Stray Part 1

Minor complaints aside, “Stray” is an enrapturing experience, the kind of game that doesn’t leave your brain after the credits roll. To wit, immediately after beating the game, I jumped into the chapter select function, excited to unlock more memories and replay areas with fresh eyes.

Its ending leaves a lot of questions open that I would have liked answered, but at the same time, I’m glad they didn’t try to tie up every loose end. For one, it left me eager for more. Far too often, stories get bogged down with the why’s and how’s of every detail, muddying the waters with minutia and realism. For a dystopian narrative, “Stray” isn’t interested in preaching to the player. It doesn’t try to make grand statements about mankind’s hubris or shortsighted innovation. Instead, it walks you through a living, breathing city where robots have molded their own society from the ashes of another, and lets players make of humanity’s self-destruction what they will. And that impression will stick with you long after the game ends.

(Video) Why Stray Is A Meow-Sterpiece

FAQs

Is there a game where you play as a cat? ›

The cat is out of the bag — and probably all over your Twitter and TikTok feeds. “Stray,” a new videogame for Sony's SONY, -1.57% PlayStation and Microsoft MSFT, -1.94% Windows, lets players explore a subterranean, cyberpunk city as ginger tabby that's trying to claw its way back to its family.

Why Stray is a good game? ›

It takes the best parts of games like Limbo and Untitled Goose Game, and then blends them together with a simple but effective gameplay pattern. There's a lot of love that's gone into crafting this game and Stray deserves its plaudits. This is a fantastic game and easily one of the best in 2022.

What is Stray Cat game? ›

Stray is a third-person cat adventure game set amidst the detailed, neon-lit alleys of a decaying cybercity and the murky environments of its seedy underbelly.

Where can I play the Stray game? ›

Stray is currently available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam. The game is a timed console exclusive on PlayStation, with the implication that it will eventually come to other platforms at an unknown time.

Whats that new game where you play as a cat? ›

Stray is the debut game from indie developer BlueTwelve Studio. Calling itself a “third-person cat adventure game,” you play as a kitty that's lost, alone, and without your family. To find them, you have to “untangle an ancient mystery” that allows you to escape from a forgotten city in a post-apocalyptic future.

What game lets you play as an animal? ›

Shelter. Shelter is a survival game that has players taking on the role of a mother badger as she tries to guide her litter of cubs from one den to another.

Is Stray a good game for kids? ›

Stray is a great family game

Other wise this game is great for adults and kids. You are a cat wondering around a big city and exploring the cityscape.

Is Stray a relaxing game? ›

It can also be a deceptively relaxing experience. This is not because there aren't stakes or threats. Rather, it is because it is just so well-crafted. As you walk down a street, meowing as you go, you just can't help but get completely immersed in everything.

Is stray cat a horror game? ›

'Stray' Is Not a Horror Game—Most of the Time

More often than not, it's a sci-fi adventure that balances most of its gameplay between exploration, puzzle-solving, and stealth.

What sound does a cat? ›

But what sounds a cat makes and how vocal it is varies from feline to feline. Cats communicate with meows, chirrups, hisses, purrs, chatters, and growls, but the onomatopoeic meow is the most common.

Why is Stray so hard? ›

Aside from a brief window spanning the game's sixth and seventh chapters​​​​​​, Stray doesn't really feature any combat in the traditional sense. As a result, much of its difficulty is derived from puzzles and chase sequences, with the rest coming from stealth-based gameplay sections.

Is Stray an offline game? ›

You can download and play this content on the main PS5 console associated with your account (through the “Console Sharing and Offline Play” setting) and on any other PS5 consoles when you login with your same account.

Can I play Stray on my phone? ›

As we mentioned, Stray is currently available only on PlayStation consoles and PC. But if we factor in how most of Annapurna Interactive's games are available on the Xbox Game Pass, it's likely Stray will come to the platform too. For now, you can only play Stray on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and the PC.

Is Stray a sad game? ›

As you explore the backstreets and districts of a mysterious city of robots, Stray has its fair share of sad moments. Stray easily elicits a lot of emotion throughout the game - joy, wonder, tension, and even sadness.

How popular is Stray game? ›

Stray is currently one of the most talked about games at the moment, and its sheer popularity means players are giving it high praise on Steam. In the world of gaming, it's all too common for players to take on the role of a human or humanoid character, with stories that pertain almost exclusively to human interests.

What is the cat video game called? ›

Stray is a 2022 adventure game developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive. The story follows a stray cat who falls into a walled city populated by robots, machines, and mutant bacteria, and sets out to return to the surface with the help of a drone companion, B-12.

Is there a game where you play as a dog? ›

In PHOGS! you play as a two headed dog called Red and Blue. Set off on a puzzle-filled adventure solo or with a friend in cooperative mode.

How much is the stray cat game? ›

When is the Stray release date? Stray will launch on July 19, 2022, for PS4, PS5, and PC. While the game normally will cost $29.99, it'll also be available for free to PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium members, the new subscription tiers that are launching in June.

Is there a game where you play as a dragon? ›

The I of the Dragon is an Action RPG where players can play as a dragon. It's a great choice not just for dragon lovers but for those too who enjoy great strategy games with unique characters and storylines.

Is Stray safe for kids? ›

It has minimal violence (you play as a cat who's occasionally attacked by blobby creatures), and there's no blood or gore, though the blobs do leak fluid when they pop. There's also no inappropriate content to be found in the game. Though parents should be warned: Players of this game may end up wanting to get a cat.

Is the cat in Stray game a boy or girl? ›

It would appear that the cat's gender in Stray is left rather ambiguous. None of the robots ever refer to the cat by any particular pronouns. Furthermore, neither the protagonist, nor the other cats that appear in Stray, was modeled with reproductive organs.

Is Stray a hard game? ›

“Stray” is not a difficult game by any means, and the stakes are low: You have an infinite number of lives, and there's no fall damage. Even still, it has no trouble establishing tension during its more action-packed sequences.

How do you buy a Stray? ›

So far there's no physical PS4 copy of Stray so you'll need to buy it from the PS Store and download it to play. Alternatively, you can play Stray if you're a subscriber to one of the new PlayStation Plus Extra or Premium tiers.

How does Stray end game? ›

Stray ends with our furry protagonist returning to the overgrown world and giving one look back to the city he traversed. Leaving behind the friends he made, and those he lost, the cat moves forward into the unknown.

How do you play Stray for free? ›

You will be able to get access to Stray completely for free by signing up for a trial of the PS Plus Extra or Premium tier, which will only last for 1 week. All of the subscription plans offer a 7-day trial for those who are interested, and you will gain access to PlayStation Plus for the duration.

Is blank dream free? ›

Blank Dream (虚白の夢 Kouhaku no Yume) is a freeware horror-exploration game by Kanawo (of Teriyaki Tomato) made in RPG Maker VX Ace. It was first released on August 24, 2015.

How scary is Stray? ›

Stray is not a horror game. By genre, it is an adventure game, not a horror game – though it is spiced up with a few creepy moments. The game itself is rated PG12, which means it can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters.

Does Stray have a happy ending? ›

For the robots and any other beings still living in the city, however, the death of so many Zurks will allow them to live their lives with a lot less fear. It's a big improvement to the robots' post-apocalyptic quality of life, making the Stray ending a happy one for sure (unless you're a Zurk).

Do cats cry? ›

Can cats cry tears? The short answer is yes, cats' tear ducts function the same way humans' tear ducts do, but they don't cry emotional tears from sadness or pain. While cats do “cry out in the sense that they may vocalize (meow, yowl, etc.)

Can cats say hello? ›

A trill is your cat's way of saying "hello."

It's distinct from meowing in both sound and meaning. "Trilling is a high-pitched, chirp-like noise made by cats as a greeting to people or other cats. It is associated with a positive, welcoming vibe," said Dr.

Why is my cat moaning? ›

The yowl is a long, drawn-out moaning sound that is often indicative of negative emotions in your cat. Your cat may yowl to communicate: Discomfort. Boredom.

Can you fight in Stray? ›

As a fairly small cat lost in a world surrounded by all manner of androids and forgotten creatures, it should perhaps come as little surprise that there's no direct combat in Stray – though later in the game your trusty B-12 robot drone can be upgraded to destroy smaller robotic creatures that attack our precious ...

Can you run in Stray? ›

Yet, when you first start playing Stray you are limited to walking. Thankfully, it is possible to run in the game. In fact, you need to use it to get past the main enemies – Zurks – whenever you encounter them. This is how to run in Stray: To run in Stray, hold R2 on PS4 and PS5.

How do I jump in Stray? ›

You can't just jump around willy-nilly in Stray. If you want to jump somewhere, you'll first need to approach the edge, wait for the X button prompt to appear above your desired landing spot, and then jump.

Can 2 people play Stray? ›

A new splitscreen multiplayer mod for recently released adventure game Stray lets you buddy up with a feline friend. After working out how to swap Stray's silent protagonist for their own pets, modders have found yet another way of adding even more cats to the game.

How do I connect my Xbox controller to PC? ›

Right-click the Bluetooth icon in your system tray. Click "Add a Bluetooth Device." Click "Add Bluetooth or other Device" and select Bluetooth. Click "Xbox Wireless Controller." Wait until the Guide button is solid white, and the Bluetooth menu says the controller is connected.

Why is Stray short? ›

People Are Mad Stray is 'Too Short' - YouTube

Are there humans in Stray? ›

It appears that the world the cat falls into is created by humans, but there are no humans to be found. The game does offer an answer, but it only leaves players with more questions.

How much does Stray cost? ›

So how much will Stray cost being an indie game? Stray will launch on July 19, 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It will be available for $29.99, which is half the cost of most full games.

Can I get Stray on IPAD? ›

Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Requires iPadOS 6.0 or later.

Can you get hurt in Stray? ›

Yes. The cat can get hurt and die in multiple instances throughout Stray's eight to 10-hour story.

Why is Stray so popular? ›

Laine Nooney, an assistant professor at New York University who studies media and video games, attributed the sudden popularity of “Stray” to several qualities: It has an endearing story, is well-crafted, is pleasant to play, and includes the internet's “unofficial mascot”.

Is there cat death in Stray? ›

No, the cat in Stray does not die in the story. With that said, the cat does get injured at certain points during the story, leaving it limping around for a bit. However, it does return to full health after a short while.

Is Stray the best game ever? ›

The power of the cat! Stray continues to set new records on Steam after its launch as it is now officially the highest-rated game on the platform in 2022 so far, even above God of War and Elden Ring.

How long is Stray game? ›

Stray takes about five hours to beat. As per the length chronicling site How Long to Beat, most players took between four and five and a half hours to complete the story with some variation based on “extras” that aren't essential to the main plot.

What is the Stray world record? ›

According to speedrun.com (opens in new tab), the last recorded speedrun of Stray came in at 58:46, just a couple of days before the current record was set. However, as of today, Erims has now topped this time by just a few minutes after completing the game in 54 minutes and 21 seconds.

Is there a game where you play as a dog? ›

In PHOGS! you play as a two headed dog called Red and Blue. Set off on a puzzle-filled adventure solo or with a friend in cooperative mode.

Is Peace Island out? ›

Peace Island is currently in the alpha stage of development, and we do not have a concrete release date set, as of this writing.

How much does Stray cost? ›

So how much will Stray cost being an indie game? Stray will launch on July 19, 2022 for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It will be available for $29.99, which is half the cost of most full games.

Is dog life a real game? ›

Dog's Life is a 2003 action-adventure video game developed by Frontier Developments exclusively for PlayStation 2, starring a dog named Jake.

What games can you have pets in? ›

10 Of The Best Video Games You Can Pet The Dog In
  • 10/10 Sims 4.
  • 9/10 Super Mario Odyssey.
  • 8/10 Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
  • 7/10 Far Cry 5.
  • 6/10 Pokemon X and Y.
  • 5/10 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
  • 4/10 Life Is Strange 2.
  • 3/10 Fable III.
23 Jan 2020

Can you play Tokyo Jungle on ps4? ›

Tokyo Jungle is available now on PlayStation Now.

What is a fun game to play with your friends? ›

#1 – Charades

Charades remain one of the best games to play with friends because it is challenging, fun and guaranteed to generate some laughs. To play charades, split the group into several teams of between 2 to 4 players per team. One player from one of the teams is chosen to start.

What type of game is Stray? ›

Stray is a 2022 adventure game developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive. The story follows a stray cat who falls into a walled city populated by robots, machines, and mutant bacteria, and sets out to return to the surface with the help of a drone companion, B-12.

What games are like life is strange? ›

Life Is Strange

Is the game Cats Island real? ›

But there is no point because these apps know what there doing with the adverts being made to be as misleading as possible just to get as many users to join. Cat Island Is Full Of Fake Claims And Lies!

What console is Peace Island on? ›

Unfortunately for Sony and Xbox gamers, it is only in development for PC, Mac, and Oculus VR with no release date announced. The project currently boasts 355 backers and you can support its patreon by clicking here.

When was stray created? ›

Is Stray scary? ›

'Stray' Is Not a Horror Game—Most of the Time

More often than not, it's a sci-fi adventure that balances most of its gameplay between exploration, puzzle-solving, and stealth.

Is Stray sad? ›

As you explore the backstreets and districts of a mysterious city of robots, Stray has its fair share of sad moments. Stray easily elicits a lot of emotion throughout the game - joy, wonder, tension, and even sadness.

How can I get a free Stray? ›

You will be able to get access to Stray completely for free by signing up for a trial of the PS Plus Extra or Premium tier, which will only last for 1 week. All of the subscription plans offer a 7-day trial for those who are interested, and you will gain access to PlayStation Plus for the duration.

Videos

1. meow meow purr meow hiss pspspspsp❤️🖤Stray Part 1
(aka CGP)
2. "My Cat Passed a Month Ago, Might Cry" Stray
(Captain Blast'Em!)
3. THE MOST ADORABLE GAME EVER! - Stray Part 1
(AshwuMisoSoup)
4. Stray: A Cute Cat Adventure, in Cyberpunk Hell
(RTGame)
5. Adorable Stray Game
(Foekoe)
6. Stray - Before You Buy
(gameranx)

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