Stray is near “purr-fection”

The most immersive, innovative cat game of all time


Eddie Shi

“Stray” incorporates every action a cat does. The orange tabby cat loves to scratch just about everything and it just knocks things over.

Eddie Shi, Staff Reporter

*There will be no story spoilers in this review.

Some time ago, cats found themselves to be the internet’s mascot. Cats are playful and curious animals. They wander around and usually fend for themselves. And not to mention, they are the cutest animals in existence.

When I first bought “Stray” for $29.99, I was expecting just a cat simulator. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. Not only does the game give you a flawless cat experience, but it also

delivers a stunning world. The world is set in a cyberpunk future with no humans to be found anywhere. The movements feel natural while performing actions like scratching and jumping. It felt more realistic than what actual cats do sometimes.

“Stray” puts the player as an orange tabby cat. It seems that cats haven’t changed in hundreds of years. As a cat, you can scratch walls and carpets whenever you want. You can push buckets over walls, knock over furniture, and drink the water that is found in random areas. There’s also a dedicated meow button. I could not stop pressing the meow button. It was spectacular. You may not think a meow button would add anything other than a funny gimmick, but meowing lights up areas and allows you to interact with your surroundings more. If you meow at security cameras scattered around the game, they nod, which I find to be hilarious.

Why are there security cameras? “Stray” is set in a dystopian-futuristic city called “Walled City 99.” The security cameras are part of the quests made by the robots. It appears that humans left the setting many years ago, as there are only robots and machines inhabiting the area. Well, there’s another thing, mutant bacteria. The mutant bacteria are terrifying creatures that will try to stop you from being a cat. They will chase you around the cyberpunk city. Their attacks come in numbers and will try to end your tabby cat. Fortunately, you can shake them off, so most chase areas won’t be as stressful.

The game’s environment is what truly differentiates this game from any other cat game. There are moments that I genuinely thought could be from a movie. The lighting in the above-ground area feels natural, and it doesn’t feel like I’m looking through a screen; it feels like looking through my window. Yet, the underground area is the exact opposite, there isn’t much natural light there. Some areas of “Walled City 99” are bleak and invoke a sense of dread. The lifeless city feels like Times Square if Times Square was an abandoned, underground bunker. Yet, the lifeless houses don’t feel soulless; it feels at peace. Once you get past the bleakness, the towns come to life. Neon lights shine brightly in the open areas of towns.

The neon streets of the underground city make the bleak urban metropolis come to life. As you walk as the orange cat, you encounter many robots with popping personalities moving around the city. (Photo courtesy of Shirrako)

The setting is perfect. I never thought that I would have been so moved by the environments of a game, much less a cat game. But this game’s distinct locations bring so much personality to a game without human dialogue. The story of “Stray” is told through the cat’s journey through the environment. I won’t cover the story since that is the most crucial part of the game aside from the setting. “Stray” ties the setting, story, and gameplay perfectly into easily the most aesthetically beautiful indie game I have ever played.

There are only two slight complaints I have. The game is honestly way too short. I just want to experience this world a bit longer. I understand quality over quantity, but five hours just feels way too short for full completion. The other complaint is some of the gameplay. The linear platforming parts are interesting because of the settings but a bit boring due to the nonexistent risk. There’s no actual platforming involved, the game just does it for you and it feels like I’m just spamming jump at every ledge or wall I see. However, it would be very difficult to implement a non-guided platforming system without making the game excessively difficult. A difficult platforming area could also ruin the immersion, and most importantly, take away from the stunning setting.

“Stray” has puzzles to keep the game from just being platforming. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the puzzles. The game holds your hand through some of the puzzles. While it doesn’t have anything original gameplay-wise, the refinement of proven gameplay is enough to make being a cat believable. “Stray” is an easy game. That’s just the design. You’re a cat doing cat things. The visuals are what make “Stray” one of my favorite games of 2022.

The ending for “Stray” leaves a lot to be desired as well. I won’t spoil what the ending is, but I will say it doesn’t feel complete. All the issues can be solved with the announcement of “Stray 2.” If a sequel does release, I hope that it provides a much longer story. There’s so much potential the story has to offer. When the announcement comes of a second game, I will be among the first to pre-order the sequel of the greatest cat game of all time. If you love cats, you must get this game.