The fact that the game, whose main character is a cat, will become a success, was already clear long before the release, but the scale of this success is truly impressive – 97% positive reviews (with almost 37,000 reviews) and the title of the game with Top Rated on Steam in 2022. And all of this took Stray… just under a week. A truly amazing result. However, sooner or later something like this had to happen, because more or less big budget games about cats didn’t work…for at least a long time, so people were just hungry.
Stray, on the other hand, offers a rather interesting experience of a classic linear adventure game in a post-apocalyptic world (yes, given the extinction of people, it’s more post-apocalyptic than cyberpunk) with simple puzzles , escaping the world dominating many enemies, exploring the ruins of an extinct civilization and finding a way to the future for the robots in which the human helpers have become a society in their own right. None of the above is anything new in the gaming industry, but looking at it all from the perspective of an ordinary cat noticeably feeds into the project. And given that the developers tried to make the game for a wide audience, it turned out light adventure for one or two eveningsallowing you to get used to the stray cat role as much as possible.
The plot of the story begins in a post-apocalyptic world, where mankind as a species has simply become extinct and nature has taken its toll so that all structures left behind by people have long been overgrown with all kinds of greenery, among which we find our protagonist – a red stray cat who survives in the company of his companions on the ruins of civilization. During one of the walks with relatives, our hero makes an unsuccessful jump and falls into the abyss, and when he comes to his senses he finds himself in an underground city, once intended to contain a certain epidemic, and now serving as a prison for new inhabitants of the planet, who have replaced the people-works.
Representatives of a mechanical life form can only dream of getting out of prison and seeing the real starry sky instead of the traffic lights of the protective dome, but the protagonist’s entry into the city and his meeting with the wizard of a certain scientist who managed to transfer his consciousness into a companion drone gives hope that these dreams can come true. During his journey, the main character must cross the whole city – chaotic slums, inhabited in addition to robots, by Zurgs, which are mutated bacteria created to process garbage, and now able to eat everything in their path, to downtown neon (downtownlisten), which is a cultural center, and is now controlled by the Neko Corporation, which built the city.
At the same time, despite the silence of the cat during the journey, he will be able to communicate with the locals through a drone that has learned the language of robots, and this will allow not only to delve into the main essence of the main story, but also to perform some additional tasks, not to mention the opportunity to slightly reveal the background of people on the verge of extinction and the development of robots as a species. Do not expect revelations, but there is nothing to scold the plot, because for its 6 hours of passage it is well written.
As I said before it’s an adventure in which we have to control a cat, so it is possible to overcome obstacles and climb various surfaces. At the same time, a full-fledged “parkour” was not delivered, as a result of which, being on one surface, you just need to aim for another and press “Jump” so that the cat there jumped up. To move buttons quickly, you can simply hold and hold.
In addition to moving, most often you will have to communicate with robots or interact with others – in such cases, a drone comes to the rescue, which will translate the language of robots with inscriptions, work with electronic devices and will invite the current target, and open the inventory, and even glow with a flashlight (though it’s not particularly clear why a cat that can see in the dark needs a flashlight). The inventory and quest system is very ordinary – no composition of objects, only a direct introduction in very natural places.
So that the player does not get bored, the game is full of small details, for which a cat is needed – either it becomes possible to sharpen his claws on some kind of sofa, then there is a bag lying on the street in which you can stuff your head and then it’s fun to run from side to side, then in an abandoned apartment there’s a piano you can jump on and play a cat-dog waltz, or a computer with such a well-powered keyboard, well, or just someone decides to leave cans of paint on a roof, not even suspecting what beautiful paints can give if they spill the banks. It’s not the cat’s fault that there are so many things around that you can’t pass.
At the same time, as the game progresses, the game tries to throw something to change, and it’s not just the locations that quickly alternate from high-rise slum buildings to factory conveyors or at a downtown disco, but also in game mechanics and situations. Either we run away from the Zurgs, trying to choose the best route along the way, then we destroy all the same Zurgs using a cool flashlight, then we collect different things for robots, or even play stealth, hiding behind walls and in boxes.
But stay Despite all the above advantages, the game also has disadvantages.and it’s not just too low difficulty – an achievement for which you have to die nine times, and it’s not so easy to get it by accident – but the very fact that if you delete various fanservices from game cats and leave only the most significant elements, it becomes clear: replace the cat with any other creature – and the game will not change drastically.
Obviously not having a huge budget, the creators stuck to lighting and styling, thanks to which each district of the city, whether wasteland, sewers, factories or downtown look quirky and mesmerizing with their sights, especially when you get downtown, and for the first time you see those neon-filled streets rushing with robots. The only thing the game is missing now is photo mode, and I hope the developers fix this annoying error as soon as possible.
Can there be issues with the sound in the game, where a separate button is responsible for meowing? Well, of course not, the voice acting for the robots and the cat itself is very organic, and I can only commend the composer for the selection of musical accompaniment.
The sheer fan service from the cover art to the small game mechanics didn’t stop the game from turning into an interesting adventure, on the contrary, it just became the icing on the cake with the exploration of the environment, communicating with works and solving simple problems. puzzles. The game turned out for a very large audience, so it’s no surprise that it got such a high rating and great popularity.
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