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"Stray" is the cutest video game of the summer: finally be a cat

“Stray” is the cutest video game of the summer: finally be a cat

It can go that fast. A red domestic cat happily roams with three hairy companions through its territory, which nature seems to have taken back from humans a long time ago, when suddenly a rusty pipe rips it to another world. No more bright sunshine and a gentle breeze – when the cat regains its paws, it is in the middle of an underground landfill. There’s no ray of sunshine behind the next door either, but at least the brightly-colored lights flash: a Blade Runner-style cyberpunk world opens. It is inhabited by rural robots that mimic humans or has been programmed by them to mimic them, which remains to be seen.

But where are the people? Robot kids spray “RIP Humans” on the walls. As the game progresses, the kitten will find out if the species is already extinct, and soon she will not be alone. In its search for a way to return to the surface, it revives a tiny drone that has lost its memory or has its memory corrupted. The cute little machine introduces itself as the B-12, a reference to French development studio Blue Twelve Studio, which is introducing its first game with “Stray”.

Novelty robot knits cable ponchos

Since the first scenes of Miserable Cat’s adventure were shown nearly two years ago at the official launch of the new Play Station 5 console, anticipation has remained constant – prior to its launch on July 19, it was officially the most popular title of all time. Steam gaming platform. This was also due to appearance, but mostly due to the control of the hero. Why are there so few games from an animal perspective? Young German studio Mooneye sent a wolf to race in “Lost Ember” in 2019, also searching for a lost civilization; The “Maneater”, in which you look as a great white shark, achieved a certain cult status in 2020. Then it becomes thin.

Perhaps “Stray” changes that, because exploring the city on cat feet is so much fun in a soothing way that the actual plot quickly becomes secondary. The developers from Montpellier, whose cat Murtaugh was the game’s main inspiration, must have been aware of this, as they avoided the over-complicated gameplay or excessive dialogue in “Stray”.

Almost always, players can go ahead at their own pace, climbing the rooftops of the city, solving small puzzles, or taking on tasks for robots with their very human needs. One of them is a bit cold, he needs a cable coat, knitted by a granny robot. Another wants to play guitar but doesn’t have a sheet of music. No problem for the cat, who can communicate with the townspeople with B-12.

Annapurna Interactive

A little break at the pool table in the robot bar

The perfect beginner game

However, the overarching goal remains the way to the surface, where the upper stratum of the population once lived and from there transported its waste to the lower strata. The organisms that were supposed to gobble up the waste have now turned into dangerous tormentors the size of a hedgehog that must be disposed of by clever maneuvers from time to time. A little gaming experience is required at these points, but in general “Stray” will not overwhelm people who have never held a console in their hands.

In good feline fashion, the little hero can’t fall, and most of the time players only have to press one button – unless they want to meow loudly between them, brush around the robots’ legs or scratch their claws on old couches. Despite the literally low height of the falls, there is no boredom, also because the developers, supported by the appropriate accompaniment at the volume level, create a meditative atmosphere from the very beginning, where cautious curiosity determines what happens, only very intermittently workshops. Just how do you imagine a cat’s life.

On Sony’s new console, the adventure runs smoothly and without load times, so few stand in the way of immersion in the presence of cats. After two long nights of gaming, the most thorough gamer must have seen and done it all. The word “Stray” ends when it is at its most beautiful.

Rating: 4 out of 5 points

stray For Play Station 4, 5 and PC, €30