The main character of "Stray"
Illustration by Olivia Woolfrey, Ringling College of Art and Design
Screens x
The main character of "Stray"
Illustration by Olivia Woolfrey, Ringling College of Art and Design

It’s time to see the world through the eyes of a cat — as if video games couldn’t be any cuter.

Many gamers have wondered what it would be like to play a game from the perspective of something other than a person. And while a few games currently exist that allow players to take on the persona of something other than a human, there aren’t a lot of mainstream games that fall into this category. With the release of the brand new, cat-led Stray, gamers can play as a character with four furry legs.

Developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive, Stray was released on July 19 and has taken the video game community by storm ever since. The game is a Sony exclusive, meaning that console players must have a PS4 or PS5 to partake in the adorably odd video game. But no worries for Xbox gamers: If you own a PC running Microsoft Windows, Stray can be enjoyed on the computer as well.

The single-player game takes place in an underground and post-apocalyptic world where robots are living dark and dreary lives. Trapped underneath the surface of the “outside world,” these robots are subjected to neon lights, stale air and mutated garbage-eating creatures called Zurks. So how does a tiny orange cat fit into this world? Well, it’s a bit complicated.

The game kicks off with a group of normal cats walking around outside. When one cat miscalculates a jump, it plummets deep underground where an entire city can be found. As seen in the official game trailer, the little orange kitty that falls — and becomes the game’s protagonist — must befriend the inhabitants of the underground city in order to get back up to the surface to its friends. While on the journey back to the surface, you and the cat learn lots of things about the ruined underground city, and about how the robots came to live there.

The game has been reviewed by many individual gamers and gaming platforms. IGN called the game’s environment a “giant jungle gym” for the character and player, which makes the gameplay interesting while still telling a “compelling story.”

Popular gaming channel Skill Up also reviewed the game, giving a 20-minute, in-depth review before declaring it an excellent example of gaming craftsmanship — and a game that everyone should try at least once.

Individual YouTube video gamer gameranx released a wonderfully detailed “before you buy” video that not only reviews the game but determines whether you would like it based on the type of gamer you are. And finally, videogamedunkey also gave his two cents, addressing how many people are giving the game high ratings simply for playing as a cat, while also looking at why the game might be great aside from that.

It is important to note that what videogamedunkey said in his video is very true. Many gamers fell in love with the story and play style of the game after taking just one look at the adorable orange furball. But can we blame them? Rarely do we play games from the perspective of animals, much less from the perspective of cute cats that can take naps, purr and interact with the world as a scratching post. Annapurna took a lot of care to make sure that the game had challenges and a playable story, while also including cat characteristics that every kitty lover knows should be present. Is there anything more accurate about being a cat than taking a nap in the middle of an extremely important adventure? Most cat owners would say no.

But while the game is cute, interesting and fun to play, it is important to note that the game is designed for gamers. There has been an ongoing trend of people getting Stray when they have little video gaming experience. From the perspective of the video game community, this is wonderful, as it introduces something innovative to an entirely new crowd of people. But if you don’t consider yourself an experienced or even casual gamer, there are some things to make note of before diving into this magical world of cats and robots.

This is a story game with adventure, puzzles and challenges. This means that you need to know how to explore its setting if you want to overcome challenges and solve problems along the way. If you have never played a single-player story game, it may seem a little difficult and disorienting to jump into something where puzzles need to be solved to move on to the next portion of the story.

While the main character may be super adorable, there are plenty of unpleasant things in the game. Our lovely protagonist must navigate through a barren and dark city where there is the threat of monsters and evil robots. That means that our precious main character can die, and that can be a little shocking for players who purchased the game because the cat looked cute. While there isn’t any blood or gore, some undertones can be a little sad, making this a game that might not be suitable for all types of gamers, especially if you know you won’t be able to see a cat go through a hard time.

The game itself sits at a playtime of about four to five hours for casual gamers. This includes dying a few times and mindlessly exploring the world the game is set in. For speedrunners, the game can be completed much quicker, and for “completionists,” this game can take a while to explore and earn all those precious gaming trophies. YouTube gamer Shirrako completed the game at a casual pace with a total runtime of four hours and 18 minutes. The entire game has since been recorded by tons of gamers, with in-depth game walkthroughs existing all over the internet. All in all, Stray is a game for gamers, a game for cat-lovers and a game for adventurers. If you fall into any or all of those categories, give it a try! And if you are a PlayStation Plus Premium member, you can try out the game at no additional cost — so no harm done to your bank account!

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

Leave a Reply