I played Stray to completion twice this past weekend, once to see the story through to its end and the second to unlock the Platinum Trophy. It is a really sweet game with a unique hook — who doesn't want to play as a cat? — but I think the fact you get to play as a feline is clouding people's judgment somewhat. Once you get over that novelty, Stray isn't really that great. It's just fine.
Now, admittedly, that novelty does take a while to disappear — perhaps half the game considering how short it is when speedrunning to the finish line. For the first two or so hours, I loved roleplaying as a cat; I was jumping all over the place, meowing as much as possible, and getting up to mischief. That honeymoon period is a complete delight, but it can only last for so long. There are only so many times you can run up to robotic NPCs, greet them with meows and purrs, only to have them return the same text box.
Once the facade wears off, there's not a lot to Stray. You're left with a very linear game — save for two more open-ended areas — packed full of supremely simple puzzles and fetch quests in order to move the story forward. When you break it down and remove the fact you're playing as a cat, all you do is jump, talk to robots, find items, and wander about.
Let me ask you this: would any of this be anywhere near as engaging if you were playing as a human? Of course not! It feels like the game is riding on the coattails of the furry friend fuelling the story when what you're actually doing isn't all that exciting. There isn't much of a payoff either: the ending is lousy — I think BlueTwelve Studio could have done much more with it.
I'm aware I'm very much in the minority here. With a Metacritic rating of 84 and an overall user score of 8.8, it's clear a lot of people are enjoying the game more than I do. The Push Square community isn't quite as hot on it, with a 7.9 user score, but that's still a fair bit higher than what I would rate Stray. The game probably does live up to those high scores for the first few hours as you become acquainted with the cat's role, spending half your time simply revelling in the fact you've got a tail and whiskers.
However, once you've meowed 100 times and unlocked the Trophy, jumped to the wrong platform too many times, and gotten lost trying to find the object you need to progress, there isn't much to bring you back. Stray isn't a bad game, but I certainly don't think it's a great one either. It's just fine. I enjoyed the pictures of cats watching Stray be played more than interacting with it myself. I'm sorry!
Do you agree with Liam's assessment, or should he book an appointment at the vet's to get himself checked out? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to rate the game if you haven't already done so below.
Perhaps this game is like getting a new kitten. It's so innocent and adorable you want to spend all of your time pampering it. Then by the time it's a full grown smelly adult that has overstayed it's welcome, you see it for what it really is 😂
(Please note I haven't played the game nor hold anything against it. Just a joke 😉)
"If you take this core element of the game out of the game, it's not that great."
I’m sorry but (thing you like) just isn’t that good. If you ignore (good aspect) and (good aspect), it’s really just (thing you like without good aspects).
I only just started it so don't have the full picture yet - and won't vote. But don't discount what an X factor like charm or novelty can do. Even early on I agree with much of the post, but it just has that something extra that pushes it to be stronger than the sum of it's parts.
@DerUserx Not really, a lot of the stuff where you actually are a cat is just window dressing. Meowing, sleeping, and other elements don't actually do anything in terms of gameplay. You could replace the cat in Stray with a monkey and you'd essentially have the same game.
I don't like cats. In fact I think they are the spawns of Satan. That being said, this is a good game!
I wonder how cat lovers will react to this article lol.
Interesting take, at least I now know not to take any of your views into consideration for future recommendations as we clearly dont think alike at all.
Quite apart from warming to the protagonist of the story, its the world they've created which impresses, with its interesting tale of what is life at the core. One of the better realised ideas Ive seen in quite some time. IF it leaves you cold, then we wouldnt get on irl! 😂
Im glad other reviewers get it... these devs deserve praise.
I totally agree with you Liam. At first I thought I was one of the only ones that thinks it was just okish, but glad to see you think so as well. For me personally the other thing that irritated me was only being able to jump on fixed positions which didn't give me the sense of freedom I thought I would have in this game. The idea of playing as a cat is original and the visuals are good as well. But the puzzles aren't really puzzles, to easy, and the fixed jumping made it to just an okish game for me. It's not a bad game but didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would so also not going to platinum it
@LiamCroft Alas, I do agree.
It's an absolutely lovely game, and it was enthralling for the first play-through. I was completely hooked.
But I'm glad I didn't have to buy it.
Once I started mopping up the last few trophies, I think I got one or two of them and then I just turned it off.
It's a very good game. It's very good at what it does.
It just doesn't do too much.
I definitely feel that it's a little overrated. That's just my opinion of course.
Welp, looks like the cat's out of the bag now.
@LiamCroft I really appreciated this counterpoint. I am planning to get the game and I am a cat owner myself, but this article pretty much perfectly sums up what I've been thinking about as reasons why it may not be worth it to get it, even if just to hold off for a bit. Thank you.
It doesn't really matter that one of the reasons people rate it highly is that you get to play as a cat, Untitled Goose Game gets at least 2 extra points because you play as a cool Goose and it has a honk button. And Nier Automata would be a 7/10 game if you didn't play as a sexy android.
Just seen a mod where they've turned the meow into Jason 🤣
@Amnesiac yeah, or that lol.
I almost disagree with Liam on everything. Metal Gear Survive gets a 8 sorry after that there is no coming back. That game was so bad it hurt not only in gameplay but also in ruining a fantastic franchise.
But as with everything you try to get under the skin of people. You may have your opinion i have mine if you say something its almost certain i will disagree for 100%.
But seriously what did you make like MGS Survive its bland, boring and time waster plus its ugly and the characters who where they again.
I enjoyed it more on my Speedrun playthrough.
It’s an interesting world BlueTwelve created but it doesn’t really make sense. Why are there only cats and robots? What do the cats eat to survive?
The little enemy creatures reminded me of the Scraps from Tearaway Unfolded (even down to them having a weakness to light).
I thought it was ok overall. It was a pleasant and brief experience. Nothing groundbreaking really but enjoyable for what it was.
@Turismo4GT I'm glad it helped you! Obviously, there's a chance you'll like it much more than me, but I would advise playing it through PS Plus Extra or waiting for a sale.
I really thought I was the only one who felt this way, so I've mostly just been keeping that opinion to myself. But since you brought it up yeah, game's just okay.
@Amnesiac pretty much every review ever and why you should try before you watch or read a review
But, if your point is playing as a cat was pretty cool but by the end of the game underwhelming and they could have done more with it, that makes sense. Roll on Stray 2!
@kyleforrester87 Isnt that a big part of a game liking what or who you are the setting.
I'm about 45min to 1h in and I gotta say that I expected much more than what we have. I can't give a score right now of course, but more than an 8 would be a stretch imo. It's fine, but I'm not having as much fun as I would think...in fact I see myself playing Little Noah much more than Stray...
I hate cats so i judge it as a game nope its average
I'll sum up my impressions :
tldr : very average and limited 3D platformer
Like others, I dislike cats so that doesn't play into my views of the game. Overall, I think it's good. It's a pretty linear game for the most part with simple objectives and it's a short experience.
And I think that's why it's good. The length allows the game's bare mechanics to last for as long as they are needed, and when they start waning on you, it's over. The world is interesting enough that makes me want to know more about the lore and finish the story, even though the ending leaves a lot of questions left unanswered.
People who say this is a GotY candidate I personally disagree with, but for a good time that you can finish in a day or two, I think it's worth playing. If you don't have access to it for free I think it's a good game to pick up on sale for 50% off.
I haven't played Stray and likely won't, but I guess if they went for an actual cat simulator this game would have to be rated 18+ 😜
You’re going to get smoke for this but I agree. I got the plat and had some fun but I would give it a 7. The environment and cat carry the majority of the game because everything else is bang average. The games story is mediocre and the ending even moreso, the puzzles could barely be called that and the controls are finicky. It just happens to be one of those games the internet latches onto for a week or two with memes especially because a lot of cat owners would enjoy this and people don’t like feeling left out so they join in before moving on and not talking about it. Like I said it’s a good game def at least a 7 and I enjoyed my time with it but it isn’t some goty worthy game like I’ve seen said or one of the best games this year.
There are two view points of this game. One, it's alright. Not great, not bad, just good. And the other is "you're a moron, this game is great". Good to see the fanboys staying even keeled with opinions, this morning.
Still gonna try it out, when I get home. It's apart of extra/premium/plus/unleaded which ever category, might as well.
@Flaming_Kaiser Yeah exactly. I love Transformers, and I absolutely loved Platinum's game where you got to play as the cell shaded Gen 1 characters. I played that game through 5 or 6 times. But take away the characters and it's a really basic action brawler.
I do get that these opinion pieces need to be a bit controversial to stoke some debate though.
I saw my friend play because it was my turn to watch, I also didn't want to pay $34.99 price tag.
It looked super linear and nothing wrong with that, the meowing, rubbing up to the robots didn't seem to be that important more like a novelty.
Gran turismo 7 would be a bad game if you removed the cars and replaced them with humans. FIFA would be a bad game if you replaced the players with fish.
I get your point but the major flaw in your logic is that the whole draw of the game is that you play as a cat. That's the whole point of the game. You don't play Mario games to be crash bandicoot.
Yes the game would be very boring if you played as a human but that's exactly why you don't play as a human. It's like saying Call of duty would be boring without weapons. The weapons are the whole point of the game. You could literally say the same about any game
@Would_you_kindly That’s hilarious! 😂
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Not a „Never seen before“ game but the overall style and with a small cat bonus it’s a very solid 7-8 in my opinion.
Come on it’s a indie game, not comparable to AAA title.
You're wrong, Liam
@LiamCroft I would definitely play a game like that if you were a monkey! Sounds great!
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@Broosh You're confusing cats with dogs... cats don't stink.
If you take away the cat, the environment and the robots I mean what really is it..... Wish EA made it so I could pay for the furball dlc
@kyleforrester87 Nier Automata is so much more than sexy booty android. The story and characters in that game are incredibly well written, the soundtrack is gorgeous, the gameplay is tight, it's a perfect 10/10 for me easily.
Let's ignore a huge element that makes the game a joy and argue that the game would be bad if that element was removed.
What an astoundingly redundant take 🤦🏻
I respect people's rights to an opinion, however unpopular it may be, but you so consistently go against the grain that I suspect you do it just to be contrarian for the sake of it. Eesh.
@supergurr I couldn't argue better. That's exactly it. The editor was very unfortunate in his analysis.
I was actually excited for the premise, but seeing the game in motion has convinced me I can very easily wait until it's heavily discounted. Still gonna play it, though.
@TeapotBuddha word, Liam likes the heat.
I think if he were to take the bad out of his pieces and just leave the good it'd be a good one. Alas there's not much of the latter
@TeapotBuddha The game isn’t that great with the element in there.
@Cherip-the-Ripper So you just want praise 100% of the time?
I'll probably never play it as this style of game isn't appealing to me at all. Cat, dog, or monkey.
I agree, I found the game pretty limited and for such a short game, it was a bit too repetitive, most objectives are fetch quests or pull down lever. The blob enemies were obnoxious, the story was pretty standard, there's cute moments but I expected something different, still for a small team, it's an impressive game.
I completed it once (not a trophy hound so likely won’t revisit any time soon) and rated it 8/10. Agree that’s it may not be a fantastic game but all things considered I felt it was very enjoyable.
Yes had it not been a cat as the main protagonist then I’d have likely rated it 6 of 7 but it was a cat and it was all put together with clear love and polish and the fact that it was short made me appreciate it more. It’s not the second coming and certainly not GOTY material but for what it was I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
@Amusei 9/10 without the sexy androids though.
The minute I was aware that you could not freely Travers as a cat without button prompts, I knew this game was going to be overhyped for its unique premise alone. The game looks interesting as an indie but no more than average in terms of game play.
I Mean you get a game where you get to Play as a cat, one of the most agile animal species on the planet, and you can't freely even jump. I'll play this if I ever decide there is a reason to upgrade my ps plus or it goes on sale for half off or less. I have two cats too, but cmon now, button prompts to jump?! Nope
@LiamCroft considering monkeys have a pretty different traversal moveset than cats, I'd say the game would be sufficiently different with a monkey. Maybe something like a rabbit would be more similar (can rabbits actually jump high like cats, I only ever see them running on the ground).
"would any of this be anywhere near as engaging if you were playing as a human?". This is so reductive.
By that rhetoric, we could apply this to all games:
-Would TLOU be so good without Joel?
-Would Spiderman game gather millions of sales without Spiderman?
-Would Horizon be as attractive as it is right now without robots?
You are basically questioning the core aspect of a game. It is just nonsensical
-Love the art direction
-Graphics are fantastic
-Soundtrack, although not used a lot, HITS at crucial moments
-Love the story
9/10 for me
Seems a bit pointless debating whether a game is either 'great' or just 'good' tbh. A bit of waste managing to turn two positive outcomes into something negative.
is this Click-nip or Catnip-bait? 😁
I would advise people to play this game as slowly as possible to get full enjoyment though, and not overanalyse it. (Why would you even overanalyse a game like this? Live in the moment, just as a cat would 🙀)
Anyway, I'm getting immense joy from it, as are countless others.
I'd probably rate this game as a 6 if I just rushed through it looking to complete things as a game for game's sake. As there's probably not a lot to complete. But again, why would I do that? This isn't just a silly cat game, there is so much wonder and simple joy to be found, and for that it is worth every one of the 9 I gave it.
I feel the people that love this game are those who are actually taking the time to see and appreciate the love that has clearly gone in to it.
Well I was only disappointed when I saw 5hrs for it on HLTB. I wanted an experience like the masterpiece Okami which was 30hrs+.
Let people enjoy things 🙄
Totally agree with this article. Honestly glad it was on PS Plus Extra. It was cute, yes, but got pretty boring fast TBH. And I say that as someone who actually disagrees with many of Liam’s reviews, lol.
"very linear game packed full of supremely simple puzzles and fetch quests"
"gotten lost trying to find the object you need to progress"
So which is it?
Non capisci un cazzo.
@kyleforrester87 👍 fair enough 😹
While I certainly don’t think it’s my game of the year, it was a short, sweet, fun experience that didn’t overstay its welcome. The fact that I love cats definitely makes me like it more, but that’s just the way opinions work.
I contrast this game to something like lost in random that also had an interesting setup and had a very simple gameplay loop, but that just totally wore out its welcome for me and couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
@supergurr if you replaced the players in FIFA with fish, you'd get blitzball. So actually that would be a better game.
Well I guess I'm part of the few, I tought this was just a bad boring game, terrible ending, awful characters irritating noises when you " talk" to robots
Thankfully I didn't pay anything for it
Only redeeming quality is its an easy 10hr platinum
Agreed, the game is very simplistic and, especially for such an extremely short game, it lacks any kind of depth or good story.
It was decent fun but no more than that, if the protagonist wasn't a cat, people would be trashing all over this game.
This argument is pretty poor.
You are basically saying, "if you take the core element of the game, it's not that great"
It could be applied to any game that you personally don't like, or that doesn't resonate with you.
I could say, if you take modern warfare weapons and narrative from COD, it's just a linear corridor shooter game.
That’s a pretty bad take imo.
To each their own though.
Edit: just so it’s on record, I’d give N:A a 10/10 myself, one of my favourite games of all time for sure. And that 9S is gorgeous in those teeny tiny goodboy shorties ❤️❤️❤️
@neitan Strongly depends on the dog/cat! lol
@KundaliniRising333 you know you can turn those prompts off?
Its better than that awful metal gear survive.wtf.one of the worst game ever and pushsquare gave it a 8😄🤔.haha.word up son
The difference being being that Cod MW in essence is just a good game, with a good story, and good mechanics.
Stray isn't, the game is very very barebones, extremely short and simplistic. So if the only thing it has going for it is 'but you're a cat', then the point suddenly becomes very valid.
If you look at it like that and are happy that it's just a cat simulator, sure, it could work for you. But if yo uvalue anything in games beyond that, it just becomes a decent game at best...
I haven't played it yet, but I suspect I will like it more than you (I do not have very discerning tastes when it comes to video games). Nevertheless I appreciate the opinion piece.
I am dismayed at the amount of comments that are seemingly misunderstanding the main points in the article, and getting offended by a self identified minority opinion piece.
I mean, it’s got more substance than Journey…
@Flaming_Kaiser. Haha.me and you remember that 🗑 trash metal gear survive got a 8 from pushsquare.😃haha.word up son
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bye dude, noone will miss you
@LiamCroft I might have to ban you for this one 😂
Glad someone said it.
"Would it be as good a game if you were human?"
Aye, well just remove a core element of the game and replace it with a human. No, it would be an entirely different game based on how a human can move an traverse the landscape.
Absolute slavers. Not because I'm a fanboy of the game, because we can do the same with every game and slap it down.
The Witcher 3 would be rubbish if you were a mere human. Sonic, rubbish if you were a human who could only run at human speed, FIFA (this one is stretch) utter trash if you only possessed the skill of a Sunday league human... Yeah...
That's why you can't review games on technicalities. Charm adds a lot. Novelty too.
The game is simple. maybe it's not great but it's good. It's adorable. It gives good time to player
Same goes for Ghost of Tsushima, if you take away Japan & playing as a Samurai, its just an ok game.
If you take away ice-hockey from NHL, its not even an ok game..
Of course if you take away "the cat element" from Cat Playing Game, the game is going to be ok at best.
Whats the point of this article?
@IronMike clickbait. Pure and simple.
It will generate comments and views.
I've been seeing this game explode, even among my friends who don't typically post about gaming, and I can't tell if it's a legitimately good game or streamer bait.
In terms of gameplay, is there anything that those who've played it would compare it to?
@supergurr @IronMike You missed the point. If cars were to be replaced by humans in GT7, it would surely be very weird. But if the handling model and everything around were to be preserved, it would still make for a top racer. Because it's about the gameplay in the end. The car is a means to an end. Liam is arguing that the same cannot be said about Stray. Which makes a bunch of sense to me, to be honest.
@DreamlandGem Just wait until you hear what I have to say about Kirby 😉
I think it delivered for what I expected. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece but something a bit different and cute.
Not every game has to be 30+ hours. Some of us don't have the time to dedicate to that anymore. We enjoy something that can be finished in a few days. Stray ticks that box. Some of us also don't rush through the thing as quickly as possible either. I've had three sittings with the game and I'm still just taking my time and dotting around the place, taking it all in. Knowing it's short has encouraged me to do so. I love the look of the world.
Why compare it to a human-led game when it's clearly not intended to be anything remotely close to one? It's bait in its clearest form.
So many gamers (for some reason) judge games on others folk's opinions, i.e reviews! The review scores are clear as day.
We're all entitled to an opinion of course but creating one to deliberately stir the pot, takes the biscuit. I knew what to expect from the article as soon as I read the title.
The point flies straight past their heads really.
I even saw someone make the point that ghost of tsushima would be an 'ok' game if you remove samurai from it, like... what? That game set a new standard for open world games and is refined to it's bones, you could put freaking Kirby in it and it would still rock.
The point is, stray has bad/simplistic puzzle elements, a mediocre story, mediocre platforming and it's way too short.
So the only thing it has going for it is 'you are a cat'. How then, is not a valid point to question what is left of the game if you take the 'being a cat' element away?
It's not a terrible game, and it is something different and at times even fun. the world you are playing in is crafted very well. But it's nowhere near a '9' game is the real point that is being made. That would put it in league with games like Forbidden West and the aforementioned Ghost of Tsushima, and it's just nowhere even close to that level of a game.
I give it an 8. And I’ll admit the reason I score it so highly is that it really reminds me of the first Ecco the Dolphin in terms of its atmosphere.
@Milktastrophe I am not aware of that game so thanks for pointing it out. I will have to check it out
@kyleforrester87 I'm more of a 2B, A2 connoisseur myself. Got them lewd stickers plastered all over my Ps5 lmao 😹 but yeah, androids be looking good in the future no doubt 👌
If this was a 40-100 game it would be pretty bad. But it's not. I finished in 5 hours. The novelty lasts for 5 hours and makes for a unique and interesting experience. For what is essentially a free game on PS Plus that makes this a great play! Not every game has to be super long- a quick but polished game like this can be purrrrfect! 8/10
Didn't Liam give Metal Gear Survive an 8? 😉
@supergurr spot on
I'm all for contrarian opinions but I just don't see the need for the obnoxious title, or the insistence of telling others they have it wrong. Sure, share why you didn't like the game so much personally, but the title just reeks of superiority (even if it is a joke).
@SystemAddict of course yah you can turn the prompts off, it doesn't change the fact that you can only jump in set scripted/specific instances. There is no dedicated ability to just freely jump which is the case in almost any modern game with ability to jump.
Even if they had only included certain areas where you could jump to as far as verticality goes; including just the ability to jump around while you're moving throughout the game would have been much more enjoyable than to just not even have it be an ability.
@LiamCroft And if you replace the monkey in Super Monkey Ball with Kazama Kiryu you end up with the same game as well....
"You're left with a very linear game — save for two more open-ended areas — packed full of supremely simple puzzles and fetch quests in order to move the story forward."
This quote is funny, because if you drop it into a review of "GOAT" GoW2018....the quote would be equally relevant.
But in accordance with the traditions and customs of the PlayStation fanbase, I think a controversial take like yours is deserving of the submission of inappropriate pictures.
Of course this was written by Liam. The only writer more miserable than Sammy on the staff. These articles don't seem to offer actual meaty analysis but rather to stir the pot. See the now deleted "What's wrong with Naughty Dog" article. I come here less and less because of this type of writing. There are other Playstation sites that are more worthy of my time.
I agree with this article. Actually got my hands on it and it's an alright platformer. I'm not a huge lore person so I think that's where it lost me. I can see the world of the robots being intriguing to someone who likes that sort of thing once you get to the point where you run into them for the first time. But the game mechanics are just kindaaaaaa meh?
It's like a puzzle-platformer. Even early platformers have power-ups or something to mix up the gameplay but this game doesn't do that because the game mechanics involve being a cat so the meat of the gameplay is figuring out where to jump; which really isn't all that appealing to me. So I can see why some people would like it, but beyond the cat being extremely adorable, the game is meh. (And don't get me wrong, that cat IS adorable. Whenever it was in danger, my heart dropped).
@Pleasance Kind of a mix of early platformers and Shadow the Colossus without combat? Whereas that game is platforming and figuring out how to climb up the colossi, this game wants you to figure out where to place strategic jumps to get to where you want to go.
@KundaliniRising333 I think it’s one of those things you have to try for yourself before you can judge it. Would the game be better if you could freely jump? Who knows, but I think that having prompts that let you know when you can jump works well in this game. I found it was a case of if I thought I could jump to it, I usually could most of the time.
It's a game about a cat and published by AnnaPurna, which is known for puzzle games. So I didn't really expect Stray to be gameplay heavy.
I think the developers did a great job on this game. They took an idea that should suck in theory and turn it into an enjoyable experience. But to each their own.
I can see why people love the game but it's just ok to me. It was incredibly overhyped but I don't even blame Annapurna because it was mostly us who did that. Last year we got both Kena and Psychonaughts 2 and many people (myself included) was hoping for another action platformer.
I respect the devs effort, though.
I'm not a cat person, so yeah, doesn't look appealing to me. Even free I think I will not try it, since my time is valuable too. But to each their own.
Different people like different things, isn't that weird.
I never understand articles like this basically calling people wrong for either liking or disliking something which differs from their opinion.
I liked exploring the world. The gameplay wasn't anything amazing, but the world absolutely was. The game wasn't deep or anywhere on the level of bigger budget games, but it was enjoyable while it lasted. Stray certainly does rely on the excitement of being a cat. It somehow surpassed God of War on Steam as most highly rated game ever despite the games being worlds apart in terms of scope and quality. Eh. Some games just ride to meme status (like Power Wash Simulator).
Switch anyone with anything amd it wont be the same game. The atmosphere and story is based aroynd you being a cat. Thats why its good.
Sorry I have to disagree, I think premise etc are quite a vital part of any gameplay experience.
If stray was a longer game I would probably agree. Although at that point it on the developer to make it work, over the longer experience.
As usual I couldn't have a more different opinion if I tried! I'll put it down to bad taste on your part lol 😉
Honestly, most of these criticisms don't really stand... Especially not for a 4 hour, compact narrative title. Almost as if judging it against completely different genre template.
Short but sweet. Very pretty + beautiful animation when considering it's an indie release. Technically sound - 60fps and bugs are rare. Very memorable vibe and soundtrack. Smooth, chill gameplay with satisfying feedback. Overall it hits the nail on the head for a game of its type. Bravo!
Seriously though, what kind of critism is "would it be as engaging if you played as a human"? That's integral to the entire game 😂 you could say that about tons of games out there - what about God of War? Even if you just swapped the model out for another creature the entire vibe would feel very different. However, there is still more to the story here than just being a cat.
I'd have to rate this critism piece 2/10 😁 a poor, paw take indeed.
I'd rather play as a man trapped alive in a coffin than play as a cat. I do think people missing Liam's point, though. He's not saying if you played as a human that moved like a human it'd be the same. Things don't have to move like their real counterparts in games. Sonic doesn't move like a hedgehog. Mario doesn't move like a human. Dante doesn't move like a man who eats a lot of pizza.
You could swap the cat for a little robot, or a pixie or a box of Mars bars; as long as it controlled the same it'd be exactly the same game on a gameplay level but it'd clearly be less liked because of the lack of the cat. It's only like saying if Lara Croft was replaced by James Corden (that still controlled the same), the TR series would sell less well.
@Gloamin You're missing all the other criticism for that one question. The fact you are a cat doesn't really add anything to the game whatsoever; it's just sort of there. I can think of one instance where you have to meow in order to have something happen and you get an item in the story. That seems insane for a game where you're a cat, no?
Once the novelty that you are a cat wears off, there's not much else to the game. That's the whole point of the article, not that I asked if the game would be worse if you played as a human.
@Matroska Yep, exactly this.
@LiamCroft Yes, I did understand how you meant it... I still disagree. Especially when taking into account points other than gameplay alone. I picked that one point of yours because it's A, very, very funny and B, its the overarching point of this article I disagree with that does actually cover most of your other critisms. A narrative title like this is all about the sum of its parts and plenty of that is usually the thematic novelty woven into the story. And that's also why the short length plays in its favour.
Of course, it's cool if you didn't think much of it though😁 each to their own! I just think it's not a particularly sound set of criticisms. Pushsquare seems to be in their element with these kinda contrarian or stirry/clickbait takes these days. Which again, there's nothing inherently wrong with that - it's good to own that vibe! It's just that its rather often now... 🤔
@supergurr it's a mini-game in Final Fantasy X. It's basically underwater soccer.
I haven't played this game, nor am I planning to. Yet even I can tell this article is a pretty bad take. Yikes!
You may be in the minority, but I'm right there with you - agreed on all your criticisms. The game was enjoyable and that's about it.
@BartoxTharglod I much, much prefer it when writers in a website don't act as though they're some kind of monolith, instead of just individuals with different tastes and perspectives.
Even the occasional "we" usage in reviews here (despite the fact only one person actually played and reviewed the product) rubs me up the wrong way. So I definitely appreciate clashing pieces for a change.
I don't know why Liam woke up today and decided that this inoffensive game has it way too good and needs to be knock down a few pegs 😑
@BartoxTharglod Thing is I see reviews exactly the way you describe: the takes of random strangers who I have no idea where they're coming from in terms of experience, general taste or even personal hang-ups, and thus they're useless as points of reference. I'll always get more value out of the take of a person I actually know regardless of their writing experience, because I know them and get where they're coming from in whatever they say.
It's precisely because I see reviews that way that I can appreciate when the pretense of "something more" is dropped for a bit.
I’d file this opinion piece under “how to put your foot in your mouth in 10 paragraphs or less”.
@BartoxTharglod I'm yet to play Stray, but when I do, I hope that I'm one of the many that thinks that the cat game is the dog's bollocks! 🤣
@playstation1995 The trash is to good for the game. 🤪
@Flaming_Kaiser. Word up son
that is entirely your fault for not understanding the game. its not a "cat game" at all, its a game about humanity and walled city 99. the cat is just a small part of the whole.
whoever jumps in expecting something like that goose game but with cats is doomed to be disappointed eventually.
im having fun with it, reading through these comments quite a few have said features like meowing do nothing and have just been thrown in for fun......early on meowing shows you the direction to go (via the lights) and in stealth sequences you can use it to shift attention of sentinels
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FINALLY! Someone who shares my opinion of the game.
Not all games have to be engaging for 100+ hours and have plenty of replay value. Stray is fine for what it is. A chill game you can play over a weekend or evening when you got nothing else to do.
@Bluetrain7 I'm curious as to what you find the superior Playstation sites to be?
Soapbox, who asked you?
These soapbox articles usually form a conversation or add an opinion to something controversial but this one basically boils down to “I don’t like the popular thing look at me”
My man getting savaged in here.
Might be time to just take the L on this soapbox and move on
@Bluetrain7 Nothing wrong with some diversity at PushSquare.
@LordAinsley Nobody's getting savaged, if some users can't take Liam's perspective that's their problem. I happen to agree with Liam's criticisms. Stray is dreary and more triple A than people would like to admit. You play as a cat, why is Stray so dark and dingy?
Soapbox: I thought Kena was trash
@LiamCroft @Art_Vandelay not all games have to rely on boring tosh like gameplay mechanics to be enjoyed though. Games are usually about an experience, and this game is giving people a wonderful experience.
Stray is not the best technical game I've played, far from it, but it's going to be really memorable to me, and to the majority that are really getting the intended experience. If you aren't experiencing the same thing that others are, that's fine, not everyone plays games the same way or for the same reasons. But this is all clearly trying to give off the feeling that people are 'kind of wrong to like it this much' because 'if you really dig into it and rush though there's not a lot to it' and 'they are just getting carried away' or are 'too stupid to see through the simplicity of it all', or 'only like it "cos cat goes meow meow"'
This is such a hit because it's way more than 'simple cat game' to a lot of people.
P.S IRL I'm currently trying to make sure the neighbors cats don't kill a baby blackbird for giggles, or taunt my dog into insanity. So I'm very much not biased 😁
Was this written whilst hungover?
I still love Stray alot, but other people are allowed to dislike it or have differing opinions!
Still holding out hope for a dog DLC or another Stray-like game, but you play as a dog the entire time.
I don’t like cats.. but I’m loving to play Stray.
I grow up playing many point and click adventure games… and this game is just like that, an action adventure with puzzles to solve. I like it.
So given that you found Stray to be a one trick pony and not all that, why then did you play it a second time? For the trophies and to ring up another platinum? Seriously?
I reckon if you take the driving bit out of GT7, it wouldn't be so great either.
Not sure that every game has to be 'great' to be enjoyable. I mean I enjoy the Call of Duty campaigns when they drop but they're fairly garbage, plenty of other examples out there.
If professional reviews are subjective, and only based on the reviewers' personal opinion, then there's no way to objectively declare Stray to not be "that great".
Doesn't matter if being a cat and being able to do cat things has an impact on gameplay design, as long as it has an impact on the player.
@savarunl Whoa, the comparison to Forbidden West really puts things into perspective.
And as far as comparisons go, I'd also cite Journey. It's super short, the mechanics are incredibly simplistic and well, it's one of the most brilliant games ever made.
So why is it so different from Stray? Because it's not centered around a gimmick. I won't spoil it here, but it's rooted into a deep analogy that is as far from "in your face" as it could possibly be until you hit the end.
Stray is fine, but it's most definitely not in the same league as Journey as the review scores would suggest.
While I feel bad that I have been baited into clicking and commenting here, the record needs setting straight. To clarify, I and most other people are not interested in Stray because of the mechanics. Even the first reveal trailer had people excited because it was the only game where you were just a cat and that appeals before anyone knew anything else about it. The gameplay, innovative or otherwise, just gives you an excuse to be a cat and exist in the cool world. It would not be the same without a cat because I'm here for the perspective of being a foot off the ground, slipping through gaps, and pushing stuff of shelves because that itself is the fun, not the mission objectives.
I don't play Crash Bandicoot to feel like a bandicoot, and I don't play Mario to understand the lived experience of short Italian men, but I do play Stray to feel like a cat in a sci-fi dystopia for a while. That's the key difference.
For a professional game journalist to ignore the mportance of character and sense of place to enjoying a game feels like contrariness. As examples; the mini games in Edith Finch are not revolutionary for their game mechanics - slithering around as a sea monster's single tentacle or eating mice as an owl or even steering a boat while cutting fish - but they are all enjoyable because of the dressing around them, and people love that game. Hey, even the two halves of TLoU2 are mechanically very similar with objectives of "shoot the people and the infected through linear levels with a few open bits" but they feel extremely different because of the character and perspective. People were not mad about that game (rightly or wrongly) because of the gameplay changes but because doing the same thing suddenly felt so different. How it feels to play Stray as a cat is so much more important that what you do while you are that cat.
PS Team - I am available to write full rebuttal pieces if you keep putting out content like this with which I disagree so strongly 😂
nah it was great .
What's up with all the click bait recently?
At least the writer of this article knows what it feels like to be wrong...
I couldn't agree more, but to each his own, doesn't hurt me, if people enjoy the game way more then I did.
Now don't get me wrong, I had fun with it, but the ratings in comparison are insanly high for what was offered.
Pretty sure no one was expecting this game to be ground breaking , but it can still be "great" if it makes you feel the right way.
This goes to show why dogs are a lot better than cats.
I didn't even need to click on this article to know that Liam wrote it.
It will win awards at the end of this year, guaranteed. A wonderful game, I loved every minute of it and it was a welcome change of pace to what else I was playing around it. Charming characters, beautiful design and the brutalist architecture that gave me a reminder of Control. The story hits home about the climate crisis we all face….
I for one welcome our cat overlords
No idea what you're talking about. I thought it was a wonderful experience from beginning to end, with absolutely breathtaking art direction and truly fascinating lore. The world, its history and its characters were more captivating than almost any other game I've ever played. Depressing and somber, yet magical, all the way through. Another true example of why video games can be pieces of art, among very few others (Journey having a similar feel). And I actually bought the thing, I didn't subscribe to get it.
The only real problem I had with it were a few bugs and some confusing areas. I did get lost a fair few times looking for those darn collectibles. Overall, though, I loved it. It's definitely not for everyone, but that's what art is. It shouldn't be. I like Blade Runner, that's a piece of art, a lot of people hate it. To make art, you make it for yourself (or in this case, the team made it following their vision), and that creates art. If you make it for everyone, you're making a product. I'd say that's your Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, etc.
@NeuralDeclan Excellent comment.
There's that "negativity" that people talk about so often on this site/community ...
You must be blast to have at parties...what a wet blanket. There's always someone in the room that feels the need to be "that guy" ...
It’s short so that removes a lot of its ceiling in terms of a high score as it just can’t compete with a more involved game. Also it’s kind of low detailed in terms of activities. It’s worth playing but it’s basic
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I went into it expecting nothing and ended up loving it. I guess not following the hype helps enjoy a game meow - I mean, more.
If you replace Sonic the Hedgehog with a human, whaddya got? Just a drunk guy running up ramps left to right, and falling down a lot. Think about it, it's actually a 3/10 game.
Just been overhyped because everyone loves hedgehogs. Think people!
oh, okay, so biased articles are still a thing in 2022...woke up too early from my grave it seems "You only jump and collect things and talk to robots..." ... hey, guess what...in Doom Eternal you "only shoot aliens in the head and jump and collect ammo". Is Stray perfect? Maybe not...nobody ever told it would be. With it's 29.99 release-day price tag does it rank among AAA next-gen titles? Not really, hence we should adjust our expectations here...
Sorry I love cats but I haven't felt so bored playing a game in a long time! Uninstalled after 2 hours.
Wow, so many of these comments feel really personal, so many lashing out as someone doesn't love a game that they love. It's really sad to see.
The first thing I did before starting the game was turn off the 'x' jump prompt. It feels better to work out where you can jump rather than waiting for the jump prompt to show you.
It was always a 7/10 for me, really enjoying it so far and I will definitely be going for the platinum, it is just a kool chilled game IMO and I don't really like cats!
@LieutenantFatman People love to get personal to the point where it’s just insulting. As usual, they forget there’s an actual person behind these articles.
Some people try to be as hurtful as possible within the boundaries of what they think they can get away with. I'm sorry you have to suffer that.
Personally, I found the article to be informative and helpful, as someone who tends to wait for sales and patches before buying. Cheers.
@LieutenantFatman Thanks man, appreciated!
Stray attempted to do something original in its aesthetic and so I feel it should be given credit for that. I was the same though, loved it for a few days then it lost its appeal went back to playing Elden Ring.
The game world linearity and lack of free jumping I feel reduced it's replayability. They could have gotten rid of the zorks enemies and kept it a puzzle platformer.
@kyleforrester87 That one is awsome also hard to find even physical.
I absolutely agree, but I have to say it is refreshing to be playing as a seriously fully realized cat. It shouldn’t be. In this day and age, it surprises me how much this is making waves. I’m an old ass man and I’ve been playing dumb games since the vic20. I got as excited about this as everyone else and it’s adorable and all, but it seems crazy to me that our ideas about what constitutes something new in gaming comes from a different avatar in the same basic plane as everything else. I’ve been on the same ride as everyone else since the late 70s, but I kinda hoped by now we’d be more evolved. I think the hope I’ve always had for games is to put me into a place that wasn’t possible in real life. Being a bird sounds fun. Being a fish sounds fun. Things I can’t do myself, but virtual reality can try to fulfill. I wanted so much more from Stray, but it may as well have been a human avatar instead of a cat. I’m not trying to be a pill about it. It’s cute and nice. That friggin’ kitty is adorable. I don’t think this is a bad game, just a decent indie same old thing. I like being a kitty. I just don’t think it’s anything to write home about. To be fair, my dog is completely fooled, and is pretty sure that’s a real cat up there. She is transfixed, and is the real winner here.
Tune in next week for the articles "How to cook the Untitled Goose for Christmas dinner" and "Should we just weigh in Clank for scrap money?"
@LiamCroft So I just finished the game and can now weight in properly.
I think you have a sliver of a point. It IS overrated, it shouldn't be the best rated game on Steam this year so far, that's madness. That said it's far better than you are making out here too. It's a solid 7-9 depending on your love for it. It's neither a 10 nor is it a 6 or lower either. Any higher or lower and you likely need a lobotomy... or a heart.
There's a lot to credit, calling it "just fine" is far too dismissive. There's a real joy of originality; both in the setting and the move set. Moving as a cat IS interesting compared to being a human, not least for it's novelty but also it's athletic grace. The design while simplistic is also honest to being a cat and clever at times, scratch a blind to lower it, make it spring back up and open up a shortcut.
A beautiful and atmospheric post-cyberpunk setting backed up with excellent art direction and a wonderful soundscape. A simple but intriguing plot that is well told and doesn't belabour the point or get preachy about humanity being the orchestrators of their own demise.
That's not to say it's not without it flaws as you mentioned. But ultimately what it has in spades is charm, that elusive x-factor that makes it stronger than the sum of it's parts. It will stick with many players. For me 8/10
So it's great playing as a cat but if you didn't play as a cat it would maybe not be so great...but you do play as a cat so the point is moot.
Hey what is The Last of Us didn't have clickers and the same atmosphere but instead was just shooting at paper targets, would it still be that good you guys?
Say Liam is correct that the gameplay is ho hum. Who cares? The premise of playing as a cat is a huge draw to non-gamers, and a simple moveset and gameplay mean they can actually play it and complete it. A game like Stray is great because it grows the gaming community. Not every game needs to be novel to jaded gamers who play every big release.
" all you do is jump, talk to robots, find items, and wander about."
It's good to have a relatively objective review not founded on whether one is a cat-lover or not, but instead considers the game on its own merits.
Well said sir!
Wasn't this game called Death Stranding? Somebody switched the main character to a human, but it's basically walking and talking to NPCs.
I think there is a meme element to all the praise for this game (given that a cat is the oldest and most powerful avatar of internet memery since the first days of the internet. Think cat photos.)
The gameplay is straightforward and linear. Doesn't do anything new at all there. Couple neat ideas which incorporate cat behavior occasionally, like scratching a blind to open it or meowing to distract someone. Very basic puzzles, light exploration.
In spite of this, the game deserves the high scores due to the combination of atmosphere, setting, characters, and focused/simple gameplay just working to make it better than the sum of its parts (the X Factor another commenter called it). If you think the reason it's getting good scores is solely because it features a cat, you are interpreting the game in a dense, far too literal way. Sort of being reductionist and pedantic, sucking the joy out, and missing the forest for the trees because it's a linear platformer at the end of the day. I think you are getting distracted by the fascination with the game on social media, which shouldn't be construed as an overarching declaration of the game's quality, either for or against.
Think about Journey or Inside, two games with bare-bones basic gameplay which nail the atmosphere and overall tone. PushSquare gave both Journey and Inside astounding 10/10 scores (which I feel they did not deserve for arguments somewhat similar to yours, although I felt they were overall very good games), and those games are about the closest analogues to Stray in my personal gaming experience. Hard to argue they aren't very, very similar to Stray, and I think Stray does it best of the three. They were front and center in my mind throughout my playthrough.
If you are confused about the praise for this game, ask your coworkers why they rated Inside and Journey so high. That's gonna be your most direct, honest and productive answer. Maybe they can explain it in a way the internet mob can't.
Or maybe it is time to reflect on your latent hatred for cats and all things cat related.
I think that being a cat is part of the whole game as a piece of art and a video game media. For this game precisely, I don't think you can take it out of the whole package.
I'm sorry, but it is.
I turned it off after two hours and frankly haven't felt any itch to come back.
The cat is extremely well, but past that the core gameplay is very boring - it felt like a chore.
Part of marketing is overhyping a product to get it sold. Let this be a valuable lesson to all in keeping your expectations realistic.
My two cents on the matter...
I liked Stray. Very much, in fact. This one and As Dusk Falls gave me the most pleasant gaming session in a very long time.
Liam may well disagree, that's fine with me (as it should be).
But one thing I think many are missing is that Stray doesn't pretend to be "masterpiece" or "a game to end all games" and certainly I respect that. It gives you a nice, pleasant and moody adventure for a few hours. Nothing more, nothing less. But that's great for times like these.
The fact that many gamers are liking this one tell us that there's an audience that would like more game like this. Nice, simple and short adventures, perfect for some relaxation.
A gaming world that welcomes Stray but also welcomes GoW, TLoU and Xbox games and Nintendo games is a nice world in my book.
A long form oxymoron - much like the title of the piece …
This article took a lot of words to say "I'm a dog person"
A bit like The Last Guardian.
Trendy game, but when you look back in a decade, you will realise its critics were right, and you were all high on the Kool Aid.
This is so cynical. The game is very well structured around the fact that you are a cat. The way you interact with the environment, with the characters, and how everything interacts with you.
The writer asks "would any of this be anywhere near as engaging if you were playing as a human?" Of course it wouldn't be. But that's not inherent to the game itself. You're taking away the core conceit of the game.
It's like saying Silent Hill isn't that great because if you take away the atmosphere, it's just a janky mess. Metal Gear isn't that great because if you take away the characters and themes, it's just a boring stealth game. Pokemon isn't that great because if the creatures were just regular animals, it'd just be an okay RPG.
I'm sorry, but your take just isn't that great.
@Netret0120 I'm a dog lover and I hated the article. I've played the game 6 times and I'm currently on my 7th run-through....
I played Stray til the end rather than continue my looooong walks in Death Stranding. Will continue the latter soon, but Stray took my allotted PS5 time. Next up I’ll finish something on Xbox. Stray is one of the finest experiences I’ve had out of PS5 exclusives, it didn’t overstay its welcome, wasn’t hard just for the sake of it and had small details making exploration engaging. I’m fine with just one play through, but I hope they flesh out the setting and world with another game, perhaps playing as a robot saving near extinct flora and fauna?
this site is becoming all things negative about Sony or the playstation brand. Suck it up Princess.
Um, yeah, it kind of is.
Insert "that's just your opinion, man" meme.
@Casco I don't know how anything about this game could ever feel like a chore, but I guess we all see things differently. This game was a very simple, relaxing experience for me. Loved it.
I found it a really good first purchase for the Steam Deck. You learn all of the controls before you get into some of the more serious games.
Ha ha. I love these atmospheric simple games you can just go through. Flower, Journey, Abzu, Pathless, etc. Stray has more substance to it with some exploration and just enough challenge to not get killed.
Also, didn't like the game but played it twice? What?
200+ comments generated. I guess the article did what it aimed for.
Terrible take and taste. ♥🐈
I'm very much a cat person, but I have no interest in this game simply because it lacks the most basic mechanic of any game, and that is the ability to fail.
It seems much less a game and more an experience. And is entirely achievable to be completed in under 2 hours.
Suddenly $30 sounds waaaay overpriced for the novelty of a cute protagonist.
I've played it recently. It's boring and it's not even a game to begin with. Press x the game then "opens" up to pressing square. This games popularity is overblown just because of a stupid cat that doesn't even look good. I applaud you for getting the platinum. Having to endure such a mediocre journey as a feline must not have been easy.
The game was good, short and sweet. I was presently surprised with this. Played it a couple times to the end. Will i play it again? Not for a while. Is it worth the money, yes.
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Stray is a good example of how Sony crank the hype machine. In previous State of Play it looked awesome and as an early exclusive for PS Plus Extra it generated excitement. The city 'adventure' sections look fantastic and were clearly a labour of love, and are initially fun to explore. But the gameplay there is basic - i've played ZX Spectrum adventures with more complexity. The actions sections are (literally) pedestrian, and can be traversed with ease. The gameplay challenge hasnt been balanced. A weapon is introduced in the midgame that is too powerful and can be used with a technique to eliminate almost any risk. It shouldnt be scoring 9s and 10s on that basis. It goes back to what makes a 'game': as a short sci-fi interactive novel it is charming and ideal for a service like PS Plus, but its looks flatter to deceive.
U could break down pretty much every game that has ever come out into simplistic terms the way u did here. It also sounds like u don’t like going for platinums. Maybe u should not do that so u don’t taint ur experience.
How dare you! Wash your mouth out with soap from a box and never speak like that again.
liam " you could play the same game as a Monkey and it wouldnt be interesting" CLASSIC BURN!!
@Serisak People pay money to get high on air in concierge "OXYGEN BARS" in Las Vegas.. "Let them eat cake..."
I wonder if there is a game where cats can be Humans? Would they give the same review! LOL!
@MakersMark Not really. The game is based off bring a cat and the story, athletics, and interactions are built around that. If you played a monkey in RDR2 instead of a Cowboy it would cease to work.
It’s more of a self burn as it shows no contextual understanding of how a work of art is characterized or how a game is well-built around a concept. The game is called Stray, an obvious cat reference even.
Yeah, the game is built around it’s length. He talks about how it wears out if he exhausts and overplays the game. But muh playtime isn’t high enough. The game is built to avoid his complaints, not to mention being a cat is vital to the game’s character. If you took out the core aesthetics and themes, it wouldn’t be good. Of course not. He says gameplay and overlooks everything else.
This article either fundamentally misunderstands games and how art works as his criticisms are poorly thought out and forced or was meant to stir the pot more than anything else.
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