Stray Review

One of the earliest games announced for Sony’s PlayStation 5 console was Stray, a game where players control a cat in a cyberpunk city with robots. It was made one of the most talked about games to come out at Sony’s Future of Gaming event, thanks to Stray’s feline antagonist and eye-catching graphics, and as it turns out, the hype was warranted. First and foremost, the developers at BlueTwelve Studio have completely figured out what it would be like to move around a city as a cat. The animations are perfect, down to the smallest detail. Real-life cat owners will come away impressed with what BlueTwelve Studio has done here, as they’re more likely to notice subtle things like a cat’s ears twitching in the direction of a noise. Early in the game, the cat is fitted with a harness to help carry its companion drone, and it happily falls to the ground, refusing to move for a moment. Any cat owner who’s tried putting similar harnesses on their pets to take them out for walks will recognize, and it’s the little details like this that make the cat from Stray feel like a living, breathing cat. It helps that the animators went so far as to make the cat literally breathe, of course. There’s a cliché about video games that make players “feel” like they’re whatever character they’re playing, but there’s really no other way to say it. Stray makes the player feel like a cat, whether it’s knocking things off ledges, walking on keyboards, or scratching furniture. Stray lets players do typical cat behaviors even when there’s no reason to play it, like drinking water from a saucer, rubbing someone’s legs, and curling up to sleep. There’s even a button dedicated entirely to meow. Lost PS5 Sometimes these cat actions are incorporated into Stray’s puzzle-solving gameplay. Although players can freely scratch furniture, walls, tree trunks, and other objects like cats do, sometimes this ability has a practical purpose, such as pulling a curtain or removing of wires from a device. Meanwhile, meowing can be used to get rid of furry enemies that sometimes cling to the cat. Stray’s bug-like enemies are known as the Zurks, and while players can fight the latter, they are mostly meant to avoid these creatures at all costs. There isn’t as much in the way of “fighting” as in other games, but Stray is better for it. The cat in Stray is meant to represent a real cat, so the developers didn’t give it any unique abilities or special attacks that would break the immersion. Yes, players solve puzzles and interact with robots in the game, but that’s because the cat is assisted by its companion drone, the B-12. Stray players meet the B-12 early in the game, and from there, the drone helps guide the story. With B-12 by their side, players can talk to friendly robots, hack doors, get hints about what to do next if they’re stuck, and more. But while B-12 plays an important role in helping players overcome some of Stray’s obstacles, the focus remains on the cat and how it is able to interact with the world around it. wild car at the bar The Stray experience is divided into linear levels and more open areas. Linear sections offer more action, where players have to use a mix of speed and stealth to outrun and hide from Zurks and other enemies. However, open-ended areas, of which there are two in the game, are where Stray really shines. Here players are allowed to explore as a cat, testing the limits of what exactly they can do in the game. The fact that Stray only really has two open areas like this may frustrate some players, especially since the game is light on content in general. Stray is a short but sweet experience that can be completed in less than five hours on the first playthrough. Those looking to get 100% completion can easily do so in under 10 hours, as it won’t take long to unlock all of Stray’s trophies. This will certainly be a downside for some, but the short length of the Stray may actually be to its advantage. This way the game never outstays its welcome, so the novelty of what the developers have done with the cat never wears off. The blow of Stray’s short length is lessened even more when considering that the game was available to play through PS Plus Extra and Premium subscriptions at launch. It’s a budget-priced game to begin with, but this way those who aren’t happy with its short length can still check it out without dropping $30 to do so. wild game Stray is very short, but it works for a game like this. There’s no wasted space or filler in Stray, and the short length likely played a big role in allowing the developers to perfect the cat’s movements as they did, not to mention make it look as good as it does. Stray’s graphics are incredible, with detailed environments and impressive lighting effects. The game is highly polished, and while there is the occasional hiccup like the camera getting stuck, any issue is easily rectified by reloading the last checkpoint. Part of the reason the developers were able to achieve such an impressive level of polish is likely due to the restrictions placed on the game’s platforming. Stray doesn’t let players jump wherever and whenever they want, but instead brings jumping back to a contextual button press. This may be another point of contention with some players, as they may find Stray’s platforming too rigid. But the trade-off is that the developers are able to keep the animations tight and better maintain the illusion of playing as a cat, whereas jumping anywhere can easily break the sense of immersion and lead to animation problems. Not only that, but it also gives platforming a puzzle-solving element, as players need to know exactly where they can jump to get through each area. It’s true that some may be shocked by how Stray handles its platforming and how short it is, but these issues are easily overlooked due to the high quality found throughout the game. Stray is a truly unique gaming experience and worth checking out just for the cat. Stray looks great, performs well, and does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s a must-play, especially since it’s available at a budget price and can be played in its entirety with a PS Plus Extra subscription. Stray launches on July 19 for PC, PS4, and PS5. Today Technology was provided with a PS5 code for this review.

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