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Stray (Playstation 5) – Review

Stray is one of the most talked about games in this new generation. It didn’t even need to hype itself, just a simple few minutes of a cat moving and climbing around a dystopian neon city full of robots to get most of us excited and intrigued. I know I was, and I even went as far as not watching any further trailers or posts promoting it. The cherry on top, though, was being able to pick it up free with my PlayStation Plus membership, but honestly, it is worth the very reasonable price it was given. Truly, BlueTwelve Studio did an amazing job on this game, not only for their unique idea but their execution of it. There are only a few titles that follow a similar vein using an animal protagonist but none have the realism of Stray that comes to mind.

With no real prior information or story spoilers, I was surprised to find that I was so happy with the story being told, and not only the overarching story but the individual tales of the robotic residents, each with a history and personality. As I progressed through each area, I couldn’t help but explore and locate as many robots as possible, just to listen to each robot’s story. Even as a dog person, I couldn’t help but get attached to our furry little friend, and although the fact that somehow, a cat was able to understand what the self-aware robots were saying, even with the help of our little B-12 friend.

B-12 is an artificial intelligence that you will discover is a lot more than it seems, and it becomes quite attached to our little protagonist and vice-versa. B-12 offers to help you escape to the outside world where he believes you came from, as well as opening the city to the outside world once again in the process. B-12 talks to the other robots for you, reads the clues you find and relays them to you. How you understand is another thing. This is easily overlooked by using neon signs, more lit areas, and even pointing to show where you should go. It all helps make it seem more believable.

The gameplay is quite simple, enough in fact, that anyone could just about pick it up without issue. There is a sprint, jump, look, interact, and most importantly, a meow button. Of course, as a cat, one of my favorite things to do was knock stuff off of things. It gave me more joy than I thought it would, and I like to think I understand why cats do it a little now. Not only that, but you can interact with certain walls, doors, mats, and couches, and use them as scratching posts, though whenever I scratched a couch, it did remind me of the poor old recliner I once owned that was shredded by a friends cat.

On top of meowing and scratching things, you can also do what cats do best, and find a nice comfy spot to take a nap. The way the camera zooms out to show the beautiful surroundings is a nice feature, but you can feel the soft purrs through the controller. A couple of other cool features were the rubbing up against legs, as cats love to do, but also getting its head stuck in a box – an adorable little extra.

There was a slight issue I had with the game that either was only something that happened in one particular area, or I just got so absorbed that it no longer bothered me. This was a slight hard-to-place visual issue I noticed at the very beginning of the game. The contrast between the protagonist cat and the concrete backdrop and flooring did not look right. It was as though I was watching a cat run against a good but noticeable greenscreen scene.

It was only one part that caught my attention but had me thinking about it for a while, however, as soon as I started walking and climbing through the streets, that feeling was gone, replaced by awe at how nice everything looked. It showed that a lot of effort was put into the visuals to make everything move and flow like it was real. For the most part, I am looking at pulling three sixties in the buckets.

The music, for the most part, was nice and fit the mood of the game, but for me, it was not a standout feature. Luckily, when it was crucial it hit the right notes. but the music was not the main focus – making the cat meow or listening to it purr was all the music we needed.

This is a game I didn’t know I needed to play until I did. I have even watched a few streamers play it, just to see if they were as entranced as I was. Please don’t discredit the story. It is quite tragic, but it’s wholesome once you start to uncover the truth. It’s a lot more in-depth than I initially thought it would be and definitely worth the playthrough. Everyone should play this, and even though personally it will not be my pick for game of the year, there are so many other aspects of the game that are award-worthy, and they are well earned.

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The Good

  • Surprisingly fulfilling story
  • Great visuals
  • Meowing
  • Purring
  • Knocking stuff off of things
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Not difficult but just enough to keep it interesting

The Bad

  • At one point the cat seemed off visually compared to the scene
  • The music did not add much and could have made scenes a little more impactfu

Written by: Adam Brasher


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