I was in love with Wander from the time I joined a recent 30+ minute hands-off preview of BlueTwelve’s next chat adventure. In slow motion onscreen before the demo started, Stray’s pro-cat-onist waited for the player, pawing something in the air, stretching to get comfortable, and, well, generally behaving like a cat.
Luckily the demo showed me more than just a sleepy cat, although I saw some later too, and I’m quite intrigued by the awesome world on display and the many surprising ways BlueTwelve has made it play as a cat. so funny. More importantly, it featured a beautifully crafted world and inventive ways to incorporate cat behavior into gameplay. The developers are keeping quiet about much of the story players can expect, but the many slices of life I saw promised a potentially cat-tacular good time.
Misplaced preview screenshots
Stray starts from a relatively simple premise, but finds ingenuity in the weirdness of the moment you start exploring it. It is an adventure game through a cyberpunk world where you play as a nameless cat, fallen in this unknown cybercity full of robot citizens. As the protagonist of the Nameless Cat, you’ll explore the world, try to figure it out and find your way around it to find your family, and maybe help robots along the way.
Exploration is a big part of what you’ll do in Stray, whether it’s through more created locations pushing you along the main path or forcing you past trouble, or through larger hubs that will slow you down a bit the rhythm to really let you immerse yourself in the world.
Something quite striking about all of this, especially if you’ve seen footage of Stray, is that you’ll see his main cat leap across the world, up and down machinery and architecture to get to from place to place, but during our session the developers made it clear that Stray was not meant to be a platformer. Places to jump, like from barrel to barrel, or even up the side of a building via air conditioners and fire escapes, are highlighted onscreen with a prompt. While there’s a challenge for Stray, the developers found during testing that people often missing jumps or not finding the right paths didn’t really feel true to the chat experience.
So your stray cat will jump with a bit more certainty, but this ethos of translating how you actually expect a cat to behave is pervasive throughout much of the gameplay. (And there will be multiple paths to specific points, for those worried that the experience may be too easy.) You’ll have a dedicated meow button, because how could you not, but you’ll also find small interactions or puzzle solving related to expected cat behaviors. In one puzzle I saw, the stray cat could knock bottles off a ledge, which in any other situation would be a typical playful cat move. But, here he teaches you how to knock a can of paint through a window so you can drop down into the apartment below and keep progressing.
Behaving like a cat also helps show how the world is designed to let you access places where its robotic inhabitants otherwise couldn’t, like climbing thin branches of a tree to find places out of the way. scope. You can sleep in designated spots when you need a cat nap, which seems like more of a cute novelty than a play requirement, and you can even scratch various surfaces. Sometimes this scratching is just for tearing up a side of the couch, like any good cat would, but other times it can be a useful mechanism, like when you’re scratching a door and a robot inside opens it to inspect the disturbance. And while I couldn’t experience it myself, BlueTwelve explained that using the DualSense on PS5 will simulate the scratching sensation, as you control this mechanism through the Adaptive Triggers.
One thing we didn’t see was a lot of comcat…sorry, fight, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be stress-free on your quest. BlueTwelve featured a chase sequence against hordes of mouse-like enemies that evoked moments of running towards or away from the camera (in this case, fleeing), as well as hints that stealth will be needed while hiding. out of sight under objects such as loose boxes.
But most of what I saw in my demo, and what caught my attention the most, was the awesome world that BlueTwelve is building around Stray. The small team’s use of lighting, color, and dense detail to build their new world is beautiful to watch, and they’ve found surprising variety in what could have been an otherwise seamless world. Dilapidated, ramshackle alleyways give way to community centers filled with robots finding their way through life, while others have created a community in The End Village, a unique town built atop a pile of trash from which robots draw the resources they need.
Stray — State of Play 2022 Official Screens
I also saw a glimpse of an upscale location in the city, with dazzling light fixtures and impressive statues and fountains dotting the city streets. BlueTwelve’s world design is both cohesive but offered enough definitive spaces that I’d be curious to see how it all ties together into an experience that the developers claim promises no loadout (except for brief reloads after a death in a potential chase sequence, for example). And these locations are meant to be explored – the team has hidden away a handful of collectibles, some relevant to progressing through the story, others just allowing you to learn about this unique civilization. Along the way is B-12, an adorable little robot that resides in a backpack your cat will find at the start of the adventure. It’s an aid in exploration and interactions, storing bits of data called memories, collecting items for you, or helping to actually translate what these bots are saying or what the signs are saying. (Cats are smart, but this one doesn’t just know the robot intrinsically!)
I saw some glimpses of this in my game demo, as the Parasite and B-12 searched for clues, leading them from one important robot to another, but BlueTwelve deliberately kept much of the hidden real story so as not to spoil the surprise of his trip. I’m certainly curious what this actual 7-8 hour trip will be like, but I’m confident in the love and care the developers have for the cats, and to translate this into a trip worthy of them. The world of BlueTwelve and the exploration of mechanics – sorry, mechanics, I promise you this is the last one – looks smart and promising in a way that will have me aimlessly scratching the couches until I can put your hand on it.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Feature Editor, PlayStation Manager and Podcast Host Beyond! He is the proud dog father of a BOY named Loki. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.
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