I hate to be “that guy,” but Stray is kinda overrated. The hype surrounding this game was huge. But here’s the thing… what people were raving about—getting to explore a post-human city as a cat—is pretty great. However, all these fans failed to mention that such exploration is only half the game. The other half is dedicated first to running away from flesh-eating aliens, and second to sneaking around security bots. Both of these seem like very weird elements to introduce to a game whose selling feature is “cute cat.” I can’t imagine anybody saw the somewhat misleading trailers for Stray and thought, “I sure hope there are aliens that can eat him!” I understand the aliens are integral to the story the developers wanted to tell, but there’s a way to make their presence known without making them a Game Over-able threat to the player. The alien sections (and, to a lesser extent, the security bot sections) are simply not fun.
Fortunately, the game is saved when it actually delivers on its promises. There are two sections in particular where you get to freely roam through a robot-populated neighborhood and solve environmental puzzles. I loved these moments. Exploring the buildings from the perspective of a cat is definitely fun, but it’s also interesting just to uncover the world’s mysteries and meet the various robotfolk. I only wish the game had double-downed on the cat stuff and not introduced a flying robot sidekick. Once this robot joins you, it no longer matters that you’re a cat. The robot translates and exposits everything for you to the point where the journey is more about him now than you. The developers could have told the same story exclusively through the eyes of the cat, and it would have been amazing. As is, I feel like their insistence on getting you to understand the plot prevents the gameplay from being able to truly shine.
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