Domestic cats are very funny. While they appear to be proud, graceful, independent creatures, they often destroy that image with erratic behaviour, clumsy movements, and affectionate headbutts. The poor things try so hard to maintain an air of superiority, but they're much more loveable and goofy than they want you to think. Stray, a game that has you play as a cat, captures both sides of the animal while telling a mysterious cyberpunk tale.
After falling into a long forgotten city, you — a little ginger moggie — must work out how to escape. However, along the way you meet B-12, a companion drone that'll help you survive in a world absent of most organic life. The small droid can translate for you, hold items, and offer insight into your surroundings. The unlikely duo team up to try and leave for the outside world, but also learn more about what happened to the city in the first place.
The game is a largely linear adventure that has you traversing various environments as only a cat can. What we mean by this is intricate exploration by way of precise jumps, crawling through small gaps, and using your catty abilities to solve problems. One of Stray's greatest strengths is the cat itself, which is wonderfully animated and feels great to control. You cannot jump whenever you like; cats make calculated, purposeful leaps, and to echo this behaviour, spots you can reach are highlighted with a button prompt, guaranteeing a safe landing. It's an interesting design choice that captures how a cat moves and forces you to adopt that characteristic.
This might sound like it limits exploration, but that's not the case. Most chapters have a pretty straightforward path, occasionally hiding a collectible down an alternate route. However, a couple of levels are much larger and allow you to fully explore. An area simply called The Slums is where you're first set free, and it's a gorgeous, complex place with interweaving nooks and crannies everywhere. There are lots of ways up, around, and through this miniature sandbox — it's so dense with objects you can jump to, you can't help but embrace that feline curiosity. As well as finding new places, you're rewarded with collectibles, fun interactions, and spots to curl up and take a cat nap.
The Slums is also where you meet the downtrodden robot denizens of the city, some of whom are wary of you but others will help your cause. In open chapters like this one, the game pairs exploration with investigation. You'll search the level for specific items, helping out robots by getting to places they can't. There are optional mini quests that also encourage thoroughly combing the map. For example, you can look for sheets of music for one guitarist bot, who can then play them for you.
While some portions of the game are peaceful and let you look around at your own pace, others are a little more action-packed. Some parts of the city are infested with Zurks, small creatures that will attack on sight. For much of the game, your only option is to run, shaking off any that manage to latch on. They're not too tough to deal with, but can quite quickly kill you if you're not on your toes. Some levels use Zurks as part of environmental puzzles, tasking you with luring them away from where you need to be. These enemies offer a change of pace, and also tie into the overall story.
Other levels require a stealthy approach, hiding in boxes or behind objects to avoid detection. While much of the game has you jumping around and fetching items, it does a decent job of providing variety within its own limitations. You visit a wide range of places, meet many robot friends, and are presented with new things to see and do, even if the fundamentals barely change. The linear stages are less interesting than the open ones, limiting your movements to a mostly set path, but they put more emphasis on narrative to keep you moving. Overall, the game doesn't outstay its welcome, clocking in somewhere between seven and 10 hours, maybe a bit more if you want to see absolutely everything.
The world itself is brilliantly realised. Again, each environment is packed with detail, and visually it's often very pretty — especially the neon-lit streets and cluttered buildings found in the open chapters. It conveys a melancholic, hopeful atmosphere throughout thanks to some great lighting and lovely music.
Sadly, we did run into a few blips that took us out of that immersive setting. Sometimes, jumps can be a little finicky to line up, and occasionally when they connect, they can look a little janky. We also spotted a couple of bugs, like one robot frozen in place and a security drone spinning wildly. Many objects have physics, too, which is great on one hand as you can adopt the feline compulsion to knock things off shelves. However, these objects also have a tendency to fly all over the place if you collide with them the wrong way.
Despite one or two rough edges, Stray is a very enjoyable adventure. It's fairly straightforward, and gives you lots of opportunity to embody a cat, whether that's rubbing up against a robot's legs, clawing at furniture, or finding cosy places in which to snooze. The narrative doesn't quite reach the emotional hit it's looking for, but it slowly shows its hand throughout, with plenty of interesting details to learn. Pairing a common pet with moody sci-fi has worked well, resulting in a unique, engaging game with strengths that outshine its flaws.
Fire any questions my way!
Something I didn't get to in the review is DualSense stuff. It's actually pretty decent here — when you curl up and take a nap, the controller will purr, and vibrate to match. There's also good feedback on landing from jumps and that sort of thing. Not the greatest implementation but fairly high effort.
Removed - unconstructive; user is banned
@Quintumply Why not 9 (lives) out of 10?
Great review Stephen, sounds really good! Looking forward to playing this over a weekend on Extra at some point.
Great review! Looking forward to the game!
The score was basically what I expected as well. Shame it has some jank and bugs. But hopefully its something that can be fixed.
Sounds pretty good, Sony never fail to impress when picking up indies to deal with, so I'll definitely be playing this tomorrow, do you know if the game will be available at midnight tonight?
Was already sold but that makes it a Day 1 play. Love it.
I can’t wait to get my paws on this. Your review has hyped me up even more.
@Quintumply the controller PURRS?!
As if I wasn't looking forward to this review and this game enough.
Was going to buy this but think i will use my free week of Extra to go through it. Good review. Purrrrrrrfect game for a chilled out weekend.
Really interested in giving this a go.
Is this coming out at midnight or sometime tomorrow?
Think I'll play immediately and then buy the physical edition in September 😂 COS CATS, BRO. I KNEEEAAD IT 💕
Edit: it's out 9am BST if anyone's interested.
I was sold on this game the first time I saw it. Sounds like it delivers too
Whew...good to hear its as good as most of us were hoping!
Graphics? 4K? 60fps? RT? Different modes?
Linear is a plus in my book. I had assumed it was open world - I'm much more interested now
@frankmcma Runs at 4K 60fps, never noticed any drops from that. There are some amazing reflections in puddles etc. but I'm not sure whether that's ray tracing or some other technique. Supports HDR too. Visually the game is really nice, apart from some textures that look a little naff if you're too close.
The game has an 84 avarage score on metacritic as well, the hype increases
Sounds pawsitively meowvalous. Can't wait to play it.
Oh nice! Been looking forward to this! Nice to see a good score. I’ll probably pick this up.
"When you curl up and take a nap, the controller will purr, and vibrate to match"
You could have just written that as the entire review and I would instantly be sold 🙂
Absolutely sold. Can’t wait! Genuinely interested in how anybody can say something so bad that they get banned in a review about a cat game though 😂
Great review and great score! And a bonus for being on plus!Can't wait
@nessisonett bismarck always got that fire on lock, miss him already
Run time of about 10 hours to do everything? Similar to Kena length?
So, not quite the complete cat-astrophe that some on here were claiming it would be.
Was sold before this review anyway but glad it's also a really good game. Looking forward to booting this up tomorrow evening.
Fantastic Review!... Thanks!
Set deal - I can fill "what are you playing this weekend" right now 🐱
@UltimateOtaku91 That's a really impressive Metacritic rating! Well done to the team!
@Cherip-the-Ripper Bismarck is bitter about everything on this site so it's not surprising.
I want to play this but I order the physical for iam8bit so I gotta wait
I am so happy when small studios make great games and with such a cool and different concept! Congratulations to the studio and I am super excited to play it!
Does this release at midnight?
Is there a way to prelodad it, or will it become available in Plus until tomorrow?
Great review, sounds like a decent game. If I like it I might double dip and add it to my Steam library as well. Good indie studios can use some extra cash.
@Cherip-the-Ripper The bismarck finally has been sunk ⚓️
@Smiffy01 you beat me to it. 😂.
Great to see it doing well in the review department for when I get round to it. More of a dog person myself but I do love me some cute pussy too
I hope this sells well, it looks like a unique game.
@Tsushima 8 hours according to the developer. https://twitter.com/A_i/status/1534600011920510976?s=20&t=LfmS0NbM4flkk-CHISfoMg
Will get it once it gets a physical release, the game looks cool
Nice review and score. Hope they update Plus around midnight, so i can give it a go before sleep.
This definitely isn't the type of game I'd usually play but it seems unique enough that I'd give it a chance
Glad it's reviewing well, can't wait to get started with it.
I may have missed this, just looked at the conclusion and not read any comments, do we know when it will go live on plus?
No way it has much depth to it but I love cats so it’ll be ok 👌
So relieved this has been reviewed well.
Shines a big light on the new PS+ tier system.
Hope it continues
Glad it has turned out well, can't wait to play it hopefully soon.
Delighted this is reviewing well and I really can’t wait to play it. Sounds like it’s only about 5 or 6 hours but I’m generally slow at these sort of games so that’s probably up to 8 or 9 for me. My daughter and I have been well hyped for this one so it’s lovely to see it should live up to expectations.
@Dudditz09 about 3 pm UK time I believe. Not sure for different regions.
It sounds as great as most of us wanted it to be, really looking forward to playing it. Congratulations to the devs for sticking to their vision and producing such an accoplished first title.
Ps Glad some unconstructive voices are gone from the site..
@Quintumply Great review! I’ve been looking forward to reading it for ages.
I’m really happy this game has turned out to be mostly what I hoped it would be (I’ll know for sure once I try it myself). I’ve got my monthly “work weekend” this week, but I’m actually ok with that, knowing I’ll have some Stray time midweek instead! Can’t wait.
Would be great if they utilised the touch pad and the cat purred when you stroked it.
Can't wait to play this tomorrow. I think I'll have tuna sandwiches and a glass of milk for lunch.
A very original style of game. I'm not even a fan of cats, but this definitely intrigues me! Curiosity killed the cat.
@thefourfoldroot1 That would've been excellent!
I need this nyao.
Without spoilers, can you tell us if eventually you're able to catch the red dot, or is that left as an interpretative ending?
Also, how are the destruction physics/level destruction features? For a cat sim, this is a critical point of the review that was inexplicably missed in the review.
Removed - inappropriate language
Will buy it on a sale to experience the purring haha.
@Quintumply Does the game have cross save and you can pop all Trophies?
Is this a ps5/ps4 crossbuy?
What hooked me when I first saw this was the look of the city and the motion of the kitty 😄
Nothing in the review puts me off, so I'm downloading this as soon as the game drops, or possibly when the temperature drops!
I will definitely give Stray a play.
It sounds like the perfect game to unwind from a sweat fest like Call of Duty or Fortnite. Exercise your noggin’ with the puzzle elements.
Will anyone be picking this up on PS4?
Gunna play it day 1. Most likely with my cat on my lap as usual
Is there a photo mode?
N.i.c.e. i knew stray was going to get a good score.the game looks interesting from the very first time it was shown.definetly getting it.word up son
Thrilled to hear its good, very excited to play it tomorrow.
Litter-ally can't wait to download this tonight.
Because cat litter, you see.
Awesome! This review gets me excited. Maybe it is time to upgrade to extra.
Shorter games like this and As Dusk Falls perfect to keep me busy until the end of the month when Digimon Survive and Xenoblade 3 hit
For me playing as a cat is a con, but the game still looks like a fun time.
I want Stray if it plays well on last gen. 1080p @ 60fps on PRO would be great.
@daveofduncan There is not a photo mode, unfortunately.
Playing the entire Halo catalogue atm (with my Dualsense, oh the blasphemy) so it would be nice to be a cat, for a change of pace.
"Feline good" ... "Selene, Die On" for the Returnal review ... ALways clever subheadings. You guys make Pure Xbox seem so boring.
It's a shame there is no preload for this title, regardless how bad the trophy list is I am going to give this a playthru for the story at least, like the purr effect with the speaker, very calming 😁
Out at 9 am, hopefully finish it before the temps get too high!
@eagletrippin They're so creative with that. I'd never think of that stuff in a thousand years. When rumors of a nearing State of Play came up, the subheader was "Soony" , lol.
I wasn’t really interested but would like to experience the duelsense support....when I get a PS5.
Much more interested in the follow up:
Signing up for Extra in Nier —oops—near—future.
Already purchased and downloaded, waiting for me to get home from work! 😺🐾
Happy to hear it's reviewing well! I look forward to playing Stray tomorrow morning at 8 AM PST.
Looks like a nice chill out game..i dont usually play games like these but i'm intrigued so i'll have a look at it..
Paw-don me. Let me tell you a tail. That’s a paw-sibility to not end in a cat-astrophe. Looks solid and I will buy the physical version at some time.
@Quintumply How exactly do you enable HDR? I see no HDR support at all. Do you have your console set to HDR Always On perhaps?
Unless I’m missing something obvious this is SDR only.
@Relygon I’ve just double checked, and you’re right - I could’ve sworn it had HDR support, but alas it does not! Apologies.
@Quintumply No worries. Yeah, it does look fantastic even in SDR. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they patch in native HDR support later.
@Relygon It's a pawssibility!
played 5 mins before uninstalling. too distressing
(To the developer's)PLEASE join the PlayStation family (+ the developer's of KENA to) I would prefer them two to all those stupid big developer's/companies like EA etc etc. This game sounds like my sort of game to
Obviously I love it already. Only been playing for 10 minutes!
@Quintumply thanks for the great review. I was excited to play it before, now even more so.
Would go start downloading but my ps5 is in the conservatory and in this heat. Err nah thanks.
@Elodin Hope you enjoy!
Amazing game! Just finished it! Absolutely stole my heart!
@Quintumply Which is moodier, the sci-fi or the cat?
@tabris95 The sci-fi.
@get2sammyb ..... COMMENT OF THE DAY MR SAMMY.......
@Lup playing as a cat means freedom of movement. Just short of being able to fly and yeah; swim but I wanted to say the art is so good in this game. Great use of colours I’m a little surprised given how detailed it seems that there’s no trade off in motion / clarity, not one frame drop I’ve encountered and it’s all ultra sharp
I wish I liked it as much, but dang does it feel so stiff/clunky to me. Animations feel really stiff and the linear nature of the 'platforming' is a drag most of the time. Maybe I've just watched too many real cats.
I also had a bug where the cat wouldn't stop purring (even while getting attacked)... not sure if that's a complaint though.
@frankmcma No options like that at all.
No difficulty mode either (from what I've seen). It's a nice looking game though, and not SUPER challenging, except for maybe a few parts.
@get2sammyb not only a great review, buy also a decent game. I'm a dog person, but nonetheless the game is grabbing me. With h great visuals, and very very good soundtrack.
@AlekseyVolkov for how long did you managed to finish it? Approximately...
@eM1x029 6h 30min of play time
Just finished it. Probably my fav game of 2022.
Edit: yes, it can be a little buggy at times but for me it only added to the indie feel. Nothing that will break the experience though.
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