First things first, I’m not a cat person. Partly because they all seem to hate me and not accept my pets or cuddles and partly because I’m allergic. However, that being said, if there was ever a game that would make me change my mind about the little feline devils, it’s Stray. I don’t know if I want to replay the game or if I want to go out and get enough cats to declare myself a cat lady, but it’s how I feel, and it says a lot about the game that Stray is.
For a change in a review, I can talk about the story of Stray because unlike many other story-focused games I’ve reviewed here, the overarching story isn’t the important part – instead, that is reserved for the history uncovered through playing, the relationships crafted through lending a helping paw and by simply being a cat.
You start the game in a sort of “cat-topia” if you will, a lush green place filled with countless other cats. But before long, tragedy strikes (as is want to do in these types of games), and you find yourself plummeting into the abyss, all alone and separated from all you’ve ever known. You now find yourself in a much less “idealistic” place; in place of the green lushness from before, there is trash, and instead of a plethora of other furry friends, there are robots and things called zurks who want nothing more than to eat you.
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Stray is a game about wanting to go home but also about finding humanity in a place stripped of it. Before long, you’ll find yourself teamed up with a sentient AI called B-12, who will join you on your adventure and help you navigate this alien world.
Most of your time in the game will be spent exploring and traversing a world that seems to be bursting with life, even though technically there isn’t any, and talking to the various robots that roam this strange underground world. By getting to know these robots, you will learn about the humans of before, and by helping them out, you will start to build relationships through that mutual reliance.
But don’t get me wrong, unlike many other games, the robots don’t just exist as forgettable quest-giving NPCs. Instead, each forms part of the supporting cast for the game, helping to move the story along and give it life. Within just a few short hours, Stray manages to capture the small nuances of both cats and robots, creating a world and a story that feels believable and memorable and that, on its own, is a triumph.