Taking in Stray
July 23, 2022

Oh boy. I don't even know where to start with this one. I've been looking forward to Stray since it was announced two years ago. Ever on my radar, creeping closer and closer to release. Lately, this has been a recipe for disaster. Many games look to talk themselves up to a point they can't hope to deliver. Other times, my anticipation and excitement taints what might have been a perfectly great game had I encountered it in the wild with no preconceived notions. I am immensely happy to say that this was not the case with Stray. THIS, it turns out, is my game of the year. Sure, we might still have plenty of absolutely stunning AAA games yet to come out, and many that already have. I'm certain that none of them will make me feel the way that Stray has. A deceivingly deep story, tight gameplay, and some adorable cat shenanigans. The developers have nailed it all for me. The basic elements of the game are simple. You are Cat. Cat does Cat things. Cat solves puzzles. But this is all wrapped in with a beautifully crafted world and story from the team at BlueTwelve. From the small mannerisms of your very small cat to the fantastic details built into the world.

First things first: This is a short game. My first playthrough filled with generous exploration and getting to grips lasted probably less than a dozen hours. This to me though is a boon. I'm tired of games being long just to be long. Tired of games only being truly "completed" when I get bored with them. This is a compact outing that packs a punch. A very emotional punch for this writer. There is a fantastic level of beauty to be found in the game's neon-lit almost Blade Runner-esque future. Only this time it is populated by machines unafraid to hide themselves away from us. Humanity as it turns out is long gone in this future. This then, seems such an odd place to find such a thing as a real flesh and blood run of the mill house cat. An idea very rarely stated beyond one robot's compulsion to pet us (they won't because they don't understand why) by the mechanical beings of this world. Most often you are met as anyone would be just passing by on the street.

At its core this game follows the Monomyth and basic hero's journey, although we never really feel like the hero. We are just a regular cat after all! There is a feeling of wonder in the ordinary-ness of our small feline thrust into the fantasy of this story. Something oddly believable about a cat and its robot drone companion muddling their way through an apocalyptic future. And also, something quite beautiful about the simplicity and nonchalance of the entire endeavor. I won't spoil anything for you, but if you had even the slightest interest in picking up this title, I wholeheartedly recommend the $30 dollar buy.

Feedback
honestgamer honestgamer - July 23, 2022 (09:22 PM)
I've seen people gushing about this one, and may wind up trying it eventually. My game of the year so far is Elden Ring, a boring pick because it's also an obvious pick. I love that game's world, and I've spent dozens upon dozens of hours exploring it. But I wouldn't want every game to have that sort of length (and certainly not its challenge, which I wish weren't quite so significant), so I can understand how something like Stray might appeal. Thanks for your impressions!

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