Stray Game Review: A Breath of Fresh Air

Stray paves the way for the unlikely hero genre.

Stray Game Review: A Breath of Fresh Air

In Stray, you play as a tabby cat stranded in a cyberpunk city separated from your beloved cat family. In your efforts to break out of the city, you meet friends, solve puzzles, and help a few people (well, robots) out along the way.

While there are classic adventure elements in the game, there's one big twist: you're...a cat. As you are flung into a post-apocalyptic city with no seeming exit, you have to get creative to find a way out. While your feline nature allows you to explore avenues that would otherwise be impossible, you still need a little help when it comes to interacting with your world. Just when you're getting your bearings and used to your condition, you meet a friendly robot named B12. B12 helps you make sense of the world and communicate with those in it. And surprise, you may just help B12 make sense of the world, too.

@rigor_mortistortoise Now I want to be a cat in my next life... I get it now.#stray #catsoftiktok #gaming #ps5 #gamingontiktok #gameplay #gameplayclips #gamergirl #gametok ♬ Betty (Get Money) - Yung Gravy

With your newfound friend, you're ready to take on the city. All of the robot inhabitants of the city are wary of you, but they quickly warm up. While the story is linear, the gameplay and world are anything but. There's plenty of in-between time when you're allowed to soak in the environment and just be a cat. With each new objective, there are "pockets" of adventure that make the gameplay feel like you're exploring a natural, breathing world.

Stray truly embraces the essence of being a cat. The world is built with puzzles that only a cat could solve. Scratching doors, hanging on curtains, and knocking items off ledges are not only a whimsical highlight of this game, but a necessary ingredient to progressing the story.

Unlike games like Assasin's Creed where you can pretty much jump and climb on anything, in Stray all of the jumps are guided. Meaning that, you can only jump when "X" appears. It takes a little getting used to, but it certainly helps the feeling that you're going in the correct direction and releases the frustration of falling or not being able to make a jump. Unlike adventure games where you're a human and you explore horizontally, in Stray you explore vertically which feels like such a refreshing new perspective. Roads, bridges, and pathways turn into pipes, scaffolds, and rooftops. Being able to be a discreet observer of the city feels freeing and lets your imagination run wild.

The story, challenges, and gameplay in Stray are just delightful and bring a smile to your face. The puzzles are amusing, the gameplay is challenging, and the fresh perspective makes your mind buzz with giddy excitement. While the concept initially was intriguing, the execution and story make this game not only so much more than what it appears, but paves the way for the unlikely hero genre.