When Stray came out, I did not even know of its existence, but it was trending on most gaming sites. We found it through the PlayStation Plus membership and decided to download it. This review has been written with little knowledge of the game aside from having played through it, twice. B12 Studio is the developer of this title, available on PlayStation 5 and Steam. Please be sure to check out all the links and click on the pictures for more detail.
Stray starts off with a pack of 4 cats, one of which is controlled by the player. What seems like free roam, is actually a straight forward puzzle game. Set in an apocalyptic setting, overgrowth of trees and weeds, the only other forms of life are the Zurks and robot inhabitants. Within the first moments we are separated from our feline friends, falling to the depths of the city.
What feels like it should be a journey to reunite with introduction of cats turns into an adventure to help bots experience human existence. Although you learn that is the main journey of the game, most have been let down by the final scenes. Between the beginning chapters and the end are filled with different puzzles you must complete as a cat. Some of these puzzles are solved by moving different objects around and keeping an eye out for passcodes.
Throughout our adventure we are joined by a small robot called B-12, promptly named after B12 Studio. This companion holds found items, recalls memories and guides us through challenges. Its a very scratch my back and I will scratch your back type of relationship.
Design and Gameplay
This game has vibrant dark colors, generally looking crisp but there are exceptions. With little knowledge on the background development of this game, it is well designed and have a very intuitive style gameplay for puzzle challenges. Most of the time there is only one direction and path to follow, forward, so exploring in this game is confined or can feel like there "could be more." When it comes to gameplay interactions, you again are limited to what the developer has programmed to be interactive. For instance, jumping. Jumping is an action that in most games is freely done. However, in Stray, jumping is a programmed action for select objects. While you can meow all you want, jumping and picking up items is limited. Though I believe it was intended, probably to help with player direction, I would have liked more world interactions. I do not want to leave out music when it comes to the design topic. Music in this game is mostly eerie, odd, and low volume. There are several cat napping spots in the game that are synced to beautiful sound tracks accompanied by a dreamy zoom out effect. Take cat naps.
For those achievement and trophy hunters, there are 25 challenges in the game for a full completion. At this time, we have only acquired half of these at 12 hours of gameplay. Most of the challenges involve different types of interactions with the game such as dunking a basketball, nuzzling robots and finding sheet music. Our attempt for trophy challenge to beat the game in less than 2 hours was a fail, and we suggest giving it a look over before you try.
Is this game worth buying?
This is the most asked question about any game. Short answer, yes. But why? Of course reviews are opinionated and answers to such questions, so a little elaboration. Though at times this game can be stressing running away from zurks, its oddly eerie music and scenery make for an curious and enjoyable puzzle game. Although there are many cat nap spots throughout this game, do not sleep on experiencing this title from Blue Twelve Studio.