I absolutely loved this game and will remember it for a long time. I got wrapped up in the story and this smart little cat and his cool robot buddy (okay, the cat is smart because I was controlling it, but still!).
Everything about its look and feel, the colors and environments, whether dark and dreary or neon and vibrant, were incredible. Exploring the nooks and crannies of rooftops, shops and alleyways, finding little items and completing quests, was a joy in these well designed environments. There are so many spots in the game to just stop and look around at it all. Seeing all of the robots walking around, drinking at the bar, watching TV, hanging out with each other, it felt alive and lived in. I loved discovering all of the memories/remnants from the past that the little robot dude was piecing together. The dialogue was all great and I felt compelled to talk to everyone I could and really ingest the plot.
Controls wise, it felt responsive and snappy jumping around as the cat. I'll admit at times it was tricky to aim at the place you want to jump to, and in chase sequences or stealth sections it made things more tense, but in my opinion it didn't ruin anything and made it feel even more heightened. If the cat could just jump around at free will with a designated jump button I feel a lot of the platforming would have been more frustrating... and let's be honest, cats are nimble and precise creatures who can balance and jump very flawlessly. It would feel weird to be able to jump around and potentially kill yourself over gaps that most cats could navigate with ease. It just felt more realistic.
The puzzles and various sequences all created a cohesive experience where there was enough variety throughout that it didn't feel same-y. I loved jumping between exploring and finding items, using your environment as a jungle gym of sorts to reach other areas, finding ways to trick robots, sneaking around enemies, and the tense escape sections where you had to run for your life.
As a horror fan, let's just say parts of this game were very much up my alley as well. There's a certain chapter that is tense with some very unsettling sci-fi imagery that will stick with me.
I need to mention the musical score, and how damn good it was too. Moody and emotional, quiet and subdued, but also pumping and intense. I can't count how many times during the game I was honed in on the music during certain parts, thinking about how good it was. It might be one of the most impressive original scores I've heard in a video game in awhile.
To wrap it up, this is a game that doesn't overstay its welcome, and while I would have loved to be able to spend more time in this world with this cat and little robot guy, the ending was emotionally satisfying and in my opinion, it's the optimal length for a little indie adventure like this. Please play Stray, and enjoy it for the cute little adventure that it isn't ashamed to be.
Reviewed on Nov 14, 2022