“STRAY” GAME REVIEW
At the end of 2022 I was able to get my hands on a game called Stray for my PlayStation, this was luckily through download included in my yearly subscription to the PlayStation Store. I had heard good things about this particular digital adventure and I eagerly waited to play it after Christmas when I wasn’t so busy. Starting the game between Christmas and New Year, but I didn’t complete it until January due to other commitments. I liked this game so much I knew I wanted to Review it for everyone who was interested to hear about my honest opinions of it.
Also check out the pictures throughout my post, they are all screenshots from my PS4 from when I was playing the game as Stray the Cat, and I think you will agree that the level of detail is phenomenal in some of them. And I must mention one more thing before we jump headfirst into this review, and that is that both of my cats sat in front of the television during my initial hour of gameplay, watching the screen, tapping on the screen, responding to the meows from Stray, it was so funny.
When I first heard about this game I knew I wanted to play it, it was the chance to be a Cat (albeit a Stray one) and take an adventure as an animal I loved, that is what I found so appealing about Stray. There might be a few minor spoilers in my main Review so if you don’t want to know about those then perhaps skip down to the final paragraph titled “My Honest Opinion” to see what I thought overall once I had completed the game. Let’s get started on what Stray is and what my thoughts were as I played it.
What is Stray about?
Set in a dystopian future where a sealed dome city houses robots, machines and deadly mutant bacteria the Robots call Zurks. The Stray finds out human civilisation has died out from a pandemic and that people were sealed inside these domed cities for their safety but ultimately it was their undoing. Stray is set when most living things are now gone and almost long forgotten about. The Robots cannot believe their computer eyes when they first see you enter their slum city, and you soon win over their metallic hearts. Stray is about discovering what happened to humanity, helping the Robots, while they in turn try to help you get back to the surface and out of the city. It’s a very different “end of the world” scenario, where Robots have evolved and built themselves to resemble the humans they once served. Each main character has a quirk to it and you’ll meet a lot of Robots along the way, Scientists, Musicians, Bar Keeps, and one incredible little Robot called B-12.
Your story begins with you exploring the world with your siblings, high above the city where nature is slowly reclaiming things humans once built. Suddenly you fall down inside when a plank gives way and your life changes forever. Trapped with no way to climb out, and injured, you have no choice but to push forward through the depths of this abandoned place. As you wander the streets you end up taking any route you can, until you find a building where you can finally drink some water and get some rest. Meowing is also something fun to do! You end up exploring where you meet a new friend who calls himself B-12. This cute little robot even makes you a backpack so he can ride inside it while you use your Cat agility to scale buildings and find safe passage through. B-12 cannot remember much at the beginning, but you can help him remember by collecting memories and scanning parts of this neon city. Soon a picture of what life used to be like starts to emerge.
Don’t forget to be a Cat while you play this game, scratch things, jump into things, curiosity is vital for Stray! Press buttons and batter things with those paws! Meow a million times (just not when you’re sneaking past Zurks) and do what a Cat does!
With B-12 promising to help you and you happy for company, Robot and Cat take off across the city in search of a way home. Passing neon signs and technology still in use, you finally encounter signs of life, however these are not friendly. The Zurks are mutant bacteria and other than our friendly Cat are the only living things left inside the sealed city. Escaping for your life you end up in the city slum and discover that it is filled with humanoid robots. Getting into places only a small creature can go, you are soon put to work by the Robots – who all have names by the way! And you begin exploring and getting into mischief.
The Robots are shocked to see a living creature; it’s been hundreds of years since they last saw anything alive. You make new friends, talk to dozens of Robots using B-12’s help, and by searching the slum and collecting things with B-12 by your side you begin to build a picture of what life were like before the Zurks. Some Robots trade items with you to help on your journey, this is an important part of the game. However sometimes it means putting yourself in danger in order to help others which is a real sacrifice, but without help you’ll never get home, so you must try.
B-12 and his back pack are essential to your journey. As you collect and trade and gift things to the Robots you build up what you need to move on through the story, and once you have successfully helped the Robots too, you can then leave the slum on your journey to continue to the surface.
Getting out of the slum city is only the beginning for Stray, as he navigates avoiding Zurks in order to help the AI’s, helping more and more Robots to get what they need in order to defeat the Zurks, and helping B-12 to realise how important he is through helping him regain his memories. But not all Robots are your friends either, some are Sentinels out to get anyone disobeying the rules and you have to use your Cat stealth on many occasions too.
There are many ups and downs in Stray, tear jerking moments of realisation, and a sombre thought about what life could resemble if humans did die out. Would Robots continue on without us? Fixing their own parts? Building things to better aid their own survival? Stray raises lots of questions, but as you progress in the game things become more and more clear, until the final realisation, when you are able to get what you need in order to open up the city roof. Robots have built a civilisation all their own down there, they remember the humans and continued where they left off, but how much longer can they continue without real purpose?
(BIG SPOILER) B-12 helps Stray to navigate all the layers of the city, and once into the control room at the end of their journey, B-12 makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Stray can finally go home and live its life outside of the city walls once again. This pulled at my heart strings when B-12 realised his world was gone and he had nothing left except the capacity to help this Stray Cat to live.
This game was touching, beautifully designed and skilled with both story and layout. It was complex and simple all at the same time, but challenging enough that I didn’t get bored once. I played slowly taking everything in and trying to complete all of the side mission quests also. Roughly it took me between 6 and 7 hours from start to finish. Though there were times I let Stray Cat sleep on a cushion and just watched him for like five minutes at a time, ha! He’s just so cute! Okay cute is just the word I would use because it’s adorable and so lifelike in movement too, that was something that I loved, even down to the jumping and landing of the Cats body it’s been developed really well.
My Honest Opinion
I honestly loved this game, throughout each section I explored and learned about the world Stray had fallen in to. There were poignant aspects and references back to humans which were both quirky and forlorn. It gave me lots to think about and enjoy as I ventured around as a Cat. If you played it through without doing any side missions you could do it in 2-3 hours. If you take your time and enjoy the scenery and details it’s a 6-8 hour game. I enjoyed the side missions, and there were two of them I didn’t complete so I would love to replay Stray and achieve them one day. Helping the Robots get what they need to succeed is quite satisfying.
Lots of you might be reading this to find out if Stray is a sad game, well, that depends on to whom you are referring to. I will just give you this one tiny spoiler, which is Yes the Stray Cat does survive and get out of the city in the end but you might accidently get it killed several times along the journey thanks to the Zurks (but it’s a good job he has 9 lives!) you’ll see what I mean when you play it. Those Zurks are fast and savage!
Would I recommend it to people as a game?
Yes I would, if you love Cats, play it, for dystopian future nerds, you would like it, people interested in what our world might look like hundreds of years after mutant bacteria causes a pandemic and wipes out humans as we currently know it… (Too soon?). This game was developed during the Pandemic, so hats off to them. I played this at the end of 2022 and start of 2023 (because I’m a single parent who doesn’t have the time to sit down and play a game in one session – even a relatively short one). Despite it being short in game time terms, it’s definitely worth playing due to the sheer amount of effort that has gone into making it. Little quirky things really made this game great for me, references to items that I use even now, things that still work technology wise in a dystopian future, and the thought that Cats will outlive humans… well… that’s fab in my eyes. The lifelike aspects of Stray the Cat is amazing and I believe one or more of the developers must have Cats at home in order to have gotten that movement and its mannerisms spot on. I loved every second of being an adorable ginger cat and I would love to see them make another one, perhaps when the Robots venture out of the now opened city? Maybe there is another City close by that needs saving too? If you need some story ideas hit me up I’ve got tons and you can pop my name on the Credits of the sequel! Ha! Ha! Definitely my cup of tea as a Game and hats off to the creators for doing a wonderful job!
Stray is a game that will have you thinking, reminiscing and contemplating so many aspects of life. If you love the look of this cute little Cat then you won’t be disappointed. Due to the themes and peril I would suggest this game for ages 12 and over and the game does think 12 is an appropriate age as noted on the purchase details. You can find this game online or on the PlayStation Store.
Thank you for reading this game review today, I hope that you have enjoyed hearing about Stray, and please let me know if you have played this or are planning to play it in the near future.
I will bring you more game reviews soon, now I’m off for a cat-nap! Only kidding! That’s my cats napping next to me while I type up this blog post! Ha! Until the next review then, bye for now.
✩ Sabrina ✩