Anyone that knows me in person, or for that matter, watches my streams, knows my position and thoughts on cats. I don’t hate cats, and I don’t like cats. I agree to co-exist with them in my house, because my wife and son love cats. More often than not, I find myself annoyed by my cat’s behavior, but there is always an excuse. So the fact that I voluntarily spent five hours of my time playing a game as a cat is a crazy thought. And yet, I have played through and completed Stray, and I enjoyed most of the journey.
The idea behind Stray is rather simple, in that you are a cat in what appears to be in a world that is devoid of humans. Your Cloister of cats (yeah, I had to look that one up), is roaming around, teaching you the mechanics of the game, when you make a poorly timed jump and fall down into a weird world, filled with robotic beings. From there, you search to find a way back to your place in the world, with help from a little robot by the name of B12.
Stray is a game about exploration and puzzle solving with most paths being relatively obvious. Occasionally, you might have to use some wits to get things to move or open, but Stray is over overcomplicated. The game will always point you in the right direction if you ask so you never feel overwhelmed, or lost.
And yes, as someone that is not a huge fan of cats, I can say that in Stray, you can be as much of an asshole that you want to be. I found myself routinely wrecking areas, knocking bottles over, scratching at every piece of furniture that was allowed, and at one point, jumping on the board of two robots playing a game. I didn’t have to be a jerk, but it seems like I would be missing the point if I didn’t do it. So yeah, I was as much of a jerk as my own cat while playing Stray.
I should say a bit about the world that you explore, as it is a world devoid of human life, instead being populated by these robots that have created social structure and interpersonal relationships. It sounds weird, but it is like these robots have created their own form of empathy and emotion. I mean, why else would a son robot, warmly hug his father after he comes back from the sewers. Even our own B12 talks like someone that feels and values emotion, making for more of a mystery to solve (and the solve is a gut punch).
After finishing Stray, I have to admit that I enjoyed my time with it. It did not overstay its welcome with me. It creates an interesting world that is fun to explore and unlock the story within. It even had me chasing collectibles, which I rarely do unless I am really compelled. Getting to be the cat that is a jerk is a nice bonus as well.