As soon as it was announced, Stray managed to captivate its audience. The idea of playing a cat, the most mim’s pet in the universe, in a post apocalyptic/cyberpunk universe was enough to arouse curiosity. That and the fact that you can claw your way around while purring.
It’s the potichat
Stray is an atypical soft that puts us in the skin of a cat. At the beginning, as in all the game, the software relies on its simplicity to immerse the player. No flamboyant OST (but extremely chill and well conducted tones), nor Hollywood shots, but a photography and an intimate, simple, clean and effective staging. Right from the start, we are sent to the control of this little red hairball who lives happily with some of his fellow creatures. We meow, we play and we purr until an accident separates us from our group and sends us to get lost in a futuristic and sinister city that seems to have been invaded by a strange race of creatures that look strangely like the head-suckers from Half Life.
Humans disappeared a long time ago and robots are now the only survivors in this dystopia. Very quickly, we will meet B-12, a small pet droid who will follow us throughout the adventure. He will act as a guide and translator in this anthill of metal and smoke.
As cats, we have no means of communication other than our meows, purrs, and our ability to… rub everywhere. Yet, we will meet a lot of friendly robots with whom we can have some interactions. If at the beginning they are suspicious, our feline condition will not prevent them from giving us objects or giving us objectives.
We find ourselves crawling, as good kittens that we are, taking advantage of our agility to reach areas otherwise inaccessible. It is also funny to see that thewe will approach the level design with a completely unusual lookThe level design is quite classic and does not try to draw marked out paths. This means that the environments we go through could be visited by any other character, but as a cat, we sneak through doors that are normally closed, windows that are barely open or on ledges that would normally be inaccessible to us. Even though, alas, Stray is mostly directional and pushes us forward in levels drawn in corridors, we feel a kind of total freedom. So much the better, since exploration, platforming and the few puzzles along the way will be our only distractions. Finally, Stray does not offer a thousand and one ways to play and some may even get bored.that’s for sure.
We go straight by solving enigmas that are much too easy, and we look for the few digital memories of our robotic friend from the corner of our eye while we are fulfilling our mission. In addition, our capacities are finally rather limited (feline obliges) and the jumps are all dirigibles. It is indeed totally impossible to improvise a platform phase or to jump into the void since you have to wait until you see the jump key appear near a ledge to perform the move. Exploration therefore quickly becomes a vast tunnel of one-touch QTEs. And it’s a pity because we would have liked to discover more, to be able to explore the world from top to bottom and especially to go beyond the 7 hours that the title requires to be completed. Note also that the PS5 version uses the specificities of the Dualsense and gives us haptic feedback, as well as adaptive triggers. It’s superficial, but well done.
Stray’s simplicity is also its charm
Cat Runner 2049
However, despite its dirigible aspect, it is rather pleasant to walk around in this post-apocalyptic world.
The environments are not extremely varied at first glance, but all are very neat and have their own identity. The scenery is full of details, everything is beautiful and desolate at the same timeThe light effects tickle the retina and some panoramas are worth their weight in peanuts. The graphic proposal is solid while the artistic aspect is, as for him, completely successful. Whether we are in the city or in the basement, we are amazed and the artists at work master their subject to perfection. As for our kitten, even if he would have certainly deserved to be more detailed, he is adorable and will make us smile at each of his movements, especially since the animations are so true.
But the simplicity of Stray is also its charm. The experience becomes almost contemplative, especially since the environmental narrative has an important place. The game is finally captivating and addictive without us knowing why. We’ll even find ourselves taking our time just to push a bottle off a ledge, or play with a piece of garbage, like the potichat that we are.