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Game review: Stray (PlayStation 5)
Thu, 18th Aug 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When it comes to most video games, the majority of the time, you are playing as a human. If not a human, you're an anthropomorphic animal such as Sonic the Hedgehog or Crash Bandicoot.

Stray, on the other hand, is a new unique 2022 video game where you control a cute ginger cat. As a person that feeds eight stray cats, I knew Stray was a game that I really needed to play.

The first thing you need to know about Stray is that you don't need to pay full price for the game. If you have the new PlayStation Plus Deluxe subscription, you can essentially play the game for free on both the PS4 and PS5 systems.

As for the game itself, you start off playing as a ginger cat roaming around the open city with other stray cats. Life seems to be going well until the main cat you control falls down into the lower parts of the city.

The cute ginger cat is separated from his cat colony and now needs to find a way back up. The lower part of the city has been cut off from the rest of the world, and only some deserted humanoid robots now live there.

When you progress through the story, the cat eventually befriends a small robot who is also on a mission to go back to the real world. Many of the robots are stranded here because they cannot escape due to the underground city being run by scary enemies called the Zurks.

At the start of the game, the main character cat cannot use their claws to attack and kill the Zurks. The only thing that you can do is run away to try and escape their grasp. It's a little disappointing that there is no real combat in this game, although I don't think fighting is the main focus here.

Since you are a tiny cat, I feel the developer's main focus was more on exploration and puzzle solving. As you are playing a cat, the player can jump on platforms and crawl through vents much smaller than a normal human can.

One of the things I like most about Stray is that the game perfectly captures the movements of a cat. The cat can jump high, meow, scratch doors, and even sleep in the game. Once you have the companion robot, she'll also be able to communicate with other robots in the forgotten city.

Another thing I like about the game is that it features unique missions and tasks. For example, there is one incident in the game where you have to destroy security cameras. In order to destroy them, all you have to do is jump on top of them, and gravity forces the cameras to crash to the ground.

There is another mission where a robot friend needs to pose as a worker in a factory. To make sure he does not look suspicious, the cat has to steal a worker's jacket and helmet from two different stores. You have to make sure the store employees are distracted before you become a thief!

As you progress into the game, you finally construct a special device that can kill the Zurks with light. When you light the Zurks, they spontaneously explode, which makes exploring dark areas much easier to do. That being said, the device can overcharge, so you have to cool it down before you can use it again.

Graphically, Stray looks pretty impressive for an indie game released on PS5. When you reach a city area, the reflections of the neon lights look nice and bright. Not to mention the animations of the cat look adorably realistic and cute.

As enjoyable as this game is, there are two flaws that prevent it from being a masterpiece. One thing that might deter some gamers is that Stray is a very short video game. On my first ever playthrough, I managed to finish the game in around five hours. You might get more out of the game if you want to get all the trophies, though.

Another thing I did not like about the game is that Stray lacks a map or waypoint to tell where you have to go next. I understand the game forces players to explore on their own, but a map would have been helpful to know which areas you have been to before.

One annoying segment of the game was trying to find a specific character in the town area. All of the robots look the same, and the game didn't tell you where this character was hiding. I actually needed to resort to a guide since I wasn't able to find this character on my own.

Aside from a few flaws, Stray is still an enjoyable and unique game. If you love cats or not, you will be charmed by the story and gameplay that Stray has to offer. I just wished the game would have been longer, as the experience ends far too soon.

Verdict: 8.5/10