Although silent protagonists are nothing new in video games, Stray takes the idea in an exciting direction. Part platformer, part conventional adventure game, this cyberpunk world full of neon-soaked robots evolves into a massive jungle gym from your one-foot-off-the-ground perspective.
Premise of Stray
The idea of placing you in the paws of an ordinary cat may seem ridiculous on the surface. Still, Stray utilizes that furry vessel to tell a gripping tale with some fun activities thrown in for good measure. Of course, not all of its concepts are successful, but it was tough to escape the warm sensation it gave me straight from the start.
To be clear, you're not a magical cat, a mutant sci-fi cat, or some sentient super cat; you're simply an average, adorable cat, although one with the type of sophisticated awareness we all like to assume our cats have when we're not looking.
Robots and a Cat
The simplicity of the notion works well, especially since you are a cat doesn't matter to the artificial humans you deal with or the tasks you are assigned.
The robotic inhabitants of this cyberpunk universe typically communicate with you like any other person. The only reason it's ever really significant to the plot or the action is that you can get into narrow spots they can't.
The narrative also offers a fresh take on the typical silent protagonist. Unlike Link from The Legend of Zelda, your hero here never speaks because it's a cat. Of course, you can occasionally converse with your drone friend through translation, but for the most part, Stray is a game where your actions speak for themselves.
You may appease the robots by completing tiny and large favors, such as assisting a Robo-grandma in knitting a comfortable poncho out of electrical lines or reconciling a father and son by navigating perilous, dark-filled sewers.
In terms of gameplay, Stray crosses a few genres depending on the situation. Much of your time, in the beginning, is spent learning how to navigate a highly vertical metropolis as a little cat.
The controls differ from a standard third-person adventure in that you may walk about freely, but the jump button is contextual, so you can only leap when an X appears on a ledge. It takes some getting used to and it may be sluggish when your life is on the line during an action sequence but it also makes a lot of sense.
Getting around entails choosing the best path and solving several relatively simple environmental problems. These can be as simple as tearing down a board of wood to build a bridge. Still, they're usually more complicated, with numerous processes that might include everything from mending machinery to scaring robots with a well-placed meow.
There is even a button devoted just to meowing. This isn't a straight-up action game with many powers at your disposal.
You don't have a weapon outside a small portion of the game. Thus your only real options are to sprint, jump, meow, and take additional action depending on the situation, such as scratching a door or batting something off a shelf.
The experience focuses more on searching this highly populated world for hints and determining the best course of action given your limited cat talents. Even though you play as a cat with few options and a low viewpoint, some of these actions are found in other games, but in actuality, they seem incredibly different because you are a cat.