I used to be enamored with Stray from the second I joined a current hands-off preview of over half-hour of BlueTwelve’s upcoming cat journey. Idling on display earlier than the demo started, Stray’s pro-cat-onist sat ready for the participant, pawing at one thing within the air, stretching out to get comfortable, and, properly, usually behaving like a cat.
Fortunately, the demo confirmed me greater than only a snoozing cat, although I did see extra of that later, too, and I’m fairly intrigued by the spectacular world on show, and the various stunning methods BlueTwelve has made enjoying as a cat look so enjoyable. Extra importantly, it showcased a superbly designed world and a few ingenious methods to include a cat’s conduct into gameplay. The builders are protecting silent on a lot of the story gamers can count on, however the many slices of life I noticed promised a probably cat-tacularly good time.
Stray Preview Screenshots
Stray begins from a comparatively easy premise, however finds ingenuity in how unusual it really is the second you begin exploring it. It’s an journey recreation via a cyberpunk world the place you play as an unnamed cat, having fallen into this unfamiliar cybercity stuffed with robotic residents. Because the unnamed cat protagonist, you’ll discover the world, attempt to perceive and discover your method via it to reunite with household, and maybe assist some robots alongside the best way.
Exploration is a giant a part of what you’ll be doing in Stray, whether or not it’s via extra authored places, pushing you alongside the primary path or forcing you to outrun bother, or by way of wider hubs that may decelerate the tempo a bit to essentially allow you to immerse your self on the planet.
One thing fairly putting about all this, particularly if you happen to’ve seen any footage of Stray, is that you simply’ll see its primary cat hopping world wide, up and down equipment and structure to get from one spot to the subsequent, however throughout our session, the builders made it clear Stray isn’t meant to be a platformer. Spots to leap to, like from one barrel to a different, and even up the aspect of a constructing by way of air conditioners and hearth escapes, are highlighted on display with a immediate. Whereas there may be problem to Stray, the builders present in testing that having individuals miss jumps usually or not discover the proper paths didn’t actually really feel true to the expertise of a cat.
So your stray will leap with a bit extra certainty, however that ethos of translating the way you’d really count on a cat to behave is pervasive in a lot of the gameplay. (And there can be a number of paths to particular factors, for these worrying the expertise can be too easy.) You’ll have a devoted meow button, as a result of how may you not, however you’ll additionally discover little interactions or puzzle fixing tied to anticipated cat behaviors. In a single puzzle I noticed, the stray may knock bottles off a ledge, which, in another scenario, could be a typical mischievous cat transfer. However, right here, it teaches you to knock a can of paint via a window so you’ll be able to drop down into the house under and proceed progressing.
Behaving like a cat additionally helps showcase how a lot of the world is designed to assist you to get to locations its robotic denizens in any other case couldn’t, like climbing up skinny branches of a tree to seek out out-of-reach locations. You possibly can sleep on designated spots when in want of a cat nap, which appears to be extra a cute novelty than a gameplay requirement, and you may even scratch at numerous surfaces. Typically, that scratching is simply to tear up a little bit of a sofa, as any good cat would, however at different occasions it may be a useful mechanic, akin to once you scratch a door, and a robotic inside opens it as much as examine the disturbance. And although I didn’t get to expertise it myself, BlueTwelve defined that utilizing the DualSense on PS5 will simulate the feeling of the scratching, as you management this mechanic by way of the adaptive triggers.
One factor we didn’t see was a lot in the best way of comcat… sorry, fight, however that doesn’t imply you’ll be with out rigidity in your quest. BlueTwelve showcased one chase sequence in opposition to hordes of mouse-like foes that evoked Crash Bandicoot-like moments of working towards or away from the digital camera (on this case working away from), in addition to hints that stealth can be required by hiding out of sight below objects like cardboard bins mendacity about.
However the bulk of what I noticed in my demo, and what grabbed my consideration most, is the spectacular world BlueTwelve is constructing round Stray. The small workforce’s use of lighting, shade, and dense element to construct its new world is gorgeous to have a look at, and so they’ve discovered stunning selection in what may have been an in any other case homogenous world. Ramshackle and dilapidated alleyways give strategy to neighborhood hubs stuffed with robots discovering their method in life, whereas others carved out a neighborhood in The Finish Village, a singular metropolis constructed atop a pile of trash from which the robots take the assets they want.
Stray — State of Play 2022 Official Screens
I additionally noticed a glimpse of a higher-end metropolis location, with dazzling lighting fixtures and spectacular statues and fountains dotting town streets. BlueTwelve’s world design is directly cohesive however provided sufficient definitive areas that I’m curious to see the way it all strings collectively in an expertise that guarantees no hundreds, in response to the builders (save for transient reloads after a loss of life in a possible chase sequence, for instance). And people places are supposed to be explored – the workforce has tucked away a handful of collectibles, some related to progressing via the story, others merely letting you study this distinctive civilization. Alongside the best way is B-12, an lovely little robotic who resides in a backpack your cat will discover early within the journey. It’s an help in exploring and interactions, storing bits of information often called recollections, gathering objects for you, or serving to to really translate what these robots are saying or what indicators say. (Cats are good however this one doesn’t simply inherently know robotic!)
I noticed just a few glimpses of this in my gameplay demo, because the stray and B-12 hunted down clues, main them from one robotic of significance to the subsequent, however BlueTwelve purposely saved a lot of the particular story hidden from me in order to not destroy the shock of its journey. I’m actually left curious as to what that precise 7-8-hour journey can be, however I’m assured within the love and care the builders have for cats, and for translating that right into a journey worthy of them. BlueTwelve’s world and exploration of mecatnics – sorry, mechanics, I promise that’s the final one – seems intelligent and promising in ways in which’ll have me aimlessly scratching at sofas till I can get my palms on it.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Options Editor, PlayStation Lead, and host of Podcast Past! He is the proud canine father of a BOY named Loki. Speak to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.