This characteristic comprises large spoilers for everything of Stray. Do your self a favor and go play it earlier than you learn this.
Putting the cat in disaster
The second I noticed the announcement trailer for Stray, I knew it was a game I used to be going to play on launch day, no questions requested. I’m a cat mother, in any case, so something with a cat, not to mention as a playable character, is an enormous win in my ebook. While it was fairly straightforward to get me on board with the premise of Stray alone, one factor I wasn’t anticipating was simply how wealthy and compelling the story was going to be on this game. I imply, it was printed by Annapurna so that ought to have been my first clue, besides, it slipped my thoughts.
To begin, the worldbuilding was extremely detailed and made speaking to NPCs, a fairly vital mechanic whenever you’re attempting to assemble data to your quest, a enjoyable and shocking a part of the game. It’s the main points that actually obtained me, just like the robotic laying on the roof within the Slums trying up on the “stars” which are truly simply lights on the roof of town, or the robotic in Midtown who was sitting studying a ebook and philosophizing in regards to the “metaphor” of the Outside, or the grim element that robots in jail can have their complete recollections wiped in order that they’re left as the proper mannequin citizen.
A narrative in vignettes
A overwhelming majority of the NPCs had their very own little tales, not simply in what they have been bodily doing, however in what they considered town they dwell in and the way they deal with being caught there. We have a transparent throughline with the cat and B-12 having their very own narratives respectively, however most of what we be taught in regards to the state of the world and the underground metropolis comes from NPCs giving us glimpses into their lives and inside their heads.
While the entire story of how town met its demise is an fascinating one, what I discovered most fascinating was how everybody talked in regards to the Outside. Some have been afraid of it, as a result of it was unknown and due to the dangers they’d take to get there. Some have been mystified by it (just like the Outsiders). And some didn’t even consider it existed in any respect. Regardless of what they thought individually, the Outside had turn into one thing of a legend among the many robots after tons of of years within the metropolis, and I can’t say I blame them.
I additionally discovered it so fascinating how the robots would talk about people — they appeared virtually sentimental about who the people have been and what they left behind. With the world seemingly in fixed decline nowadays, I’ve had a number of existential panic in regards to the concept of people all dying out in the future. I truly discover the best way Stray mentioned life after human existence comforting slightly than terrifying, which isn’t traditional for me.
One of probably the most charming video games I’ve ever performed
The entire game has this underlying allure that runs by way of every little thing, as a result of it not solely has an lovable cat protagonist and cute mechanics like scratching at carpets or taking a nap on a comfy pillow, however as a result of it someway manages to be actually hopeful within the face of a bleak scenario. All of the characters that assist you alongside your journey, though they might be dreaming of the Outside themselves, selflessly put themselves in hurt’s approach or keep behind simply to maintain you shifting ahead.
Even what you would possibly contemplate the antagonists of the game, the safety robots, weren’t appearing with any form of malicious intent — the protocols that they have been finishing up to maintain everybody within the metropolis are simply remnants from a time when the Outside was nonetheless a harmful place.
Hope, even in the long run
What Clementine mentioned in that last second the place she helped us escape the jail actually caught with me — even when it meant she couldn’t go together with us, simply the concept of somebody making it to the Outside was sufficient for her. Then, in fact, there’s the heartbreaking finale of B-12 sacrificing himself in order that the cat may open the door.
The picture of that little orange cat curled up together with his pal on the ground of the Control Room made me cry greater than a game has in years. They go away us on the notice that whereas there was nice loss, this cat, and the residents of town, are at a brand new starting full of recent, lovely prospects. Even in a world the place individuals have gone extinct, love and hope can nonetheless thrive, and that’s one of the comforting sentiments I can consider within the face of… effectively what we’re going through.
Stray is definitely one in all my favourite video games not solely of this 12 months, however perhaps of all time. Its story is one which I discover myself nonetheless serious about, and Stray truthfully may need helped change my perspective in terms of dreading the tip of the world. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than I dive again in and immerse myself in its story once more, as a result of I’m sure there are nonetheless loads of hidden particulars I missed. There’s definitely a lot extra to it than I used to be even capable of contact on on this article.
Story Beat is a weekly column discussing something and every little thing to do with storytelling in video video games.