Test Stray – A short adventure that makes us capsize with pleasure

strayed has won the hearts of many of us even before we set our feet on the controller. It must be said that the original proposal of the title has something to immediately captivate all cat lovers, especially when we see how much our feline protagonist has the adorable hangover that we want to hear purr for hours. But that’s not enough to make a good game, and Studio Blue Twelve understood well since then strayed is full of little ideas that make this title far from relying solely on its cat’s gimmicks.

Test conditions: We completed Stray on PlayStation 5 in just under six hours, after collecting 3/4 of the game’s collectibles.

Give the robot his tongue

You would think that a cat’s daily life would certainly be relaxing, but not the one we embody in strayed. On the contrary, because if our little hero were to spend happy days in the company of his family near some kind of dam, a heavy fall will land him in a dark city where the blue sky has no place. Wounded and now alone, will our cat walk the streets of this city like no otherwhere we find no living soul except parasites that will haunt the cat.

Thus begins an adventure in a dark maze, lit only by the neon lights of the old installations that appear human, and which are now maintained by robots/androids, all very friendly (at least for the most part), trying to “live” so long as bad in this mess.

But since you’re a cat, communication between you and these robots is necessarily complicated.until he fell on a small drone called B12 (a reference to the studio’s name), which will help you translate the language of androids while undressing with a backpack to store items. Thus begins your adventure to the top of the city, hoping to find the exterior and understand why there are no people here.

Spinning Inspector

Lost 21 2

strayed therefore presents itself as a relatively linear adventure game, in which you have to progress through a series of levels by solving puzzles and meeting the different needs of the inhabitants you meet. If all the NPCs we meet are not essential to our journey, others can entrust us with specific tasks while answering our questions when we show them a particular object.

That’s why the title sometimes turns into a real little research game in which you question all robots around to find a destination or target of an object. A good idea to address our protagonist’s lack of speech (after all, robots don’t understand the language of “meow”), which almost smacks of the legacy of point’n click, where every object has its use and where one has to Connect the correct clues together to advance the overall puzzle.

To find all these objects, you have to explore the environment a bit, and even if the adventure wants to be interventionist for the most part, it also manages to provide us with a few moments of breath where we are more free of our direction. Don’t expect real big open spaces, but twice (or even three times) the environment decompartments a bit to let you walk through different neighborhoods and meet other robots there.

Moreover, it is often at these precise moments that one can appreciate it better the genius level design that is strayed, while the challenge was enormous. Since everything is seen from cat height, the city should be designed with this in mind. Which means that a simple pipe can be seen as a means of gaining height, a shelf should also be conceived with the idea of ​​serving as a platform, etc.

The art of being a cat

Lost 6 3

Naturally, we are still on the right track here and achieving, say, a roof can’t really be done in many different ways. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one full of secrets to discover, and the game forces us to explore every corner to find memories of humanity, or objects that can help us in our quest.

It is because of its little secret passages and this series of puzzles that we really appreciate strayedThat knows how to use his cat’s abilities intelligently. Need access to a room with the door closed? Just scratch the last one to see if anyone comes out. Something in a box? One leg to knock it off the shelf is enough.

And while these actions can result in solving puzzles or contributing to your progress, this isn’t always the case. As smart as you are, you’re still a cat, and Blue Twelve Studio has decided to give you the chance to act like one.even without reward, except to enjoy the fantastic animations.

So you can ruin some of it scrabble by jumping on the board, writing something on a PC keyboard, sleeping for hours (to better appreciate the game’s soundtrack, relatively discreet though successful), or grinding your claws on a carpet, without it useful. Useless, so essential, especially on PlayStation 5 where the DualSense is used intelligentlywith purring sounds coming from the speakers, or adaptive triggers that make scratching your claws quite satisfying.

hairy architecture

Lost 18 4

It also forces us to take a closer look at the landscape around us, and at this point, strayed commands respect. On PS5, the details of the city are striking. The work on the lighting gives very nice colors to the whole, even in the dark, and the panoramas often make us regret the absence of photo mode, although there’s no UI to get in the way (apart from a crosshair that you can toggle on or off). Since the studio had to come up with its cat-scale decorations, the impression of the gigantism of the buildings works well, and we also notice that the details on the floor have benefited from particular care.

We talk about technology, but the artistic direction is equally commendable. Inspired by Kowloon Citadel and movies like knife runnerthe team was able to give these sets a real identity, with certain levels that really stand out, like this giant tree that serves as a mini-city.

We will avoid going into further details so as not to reveal anything, but we were also surprised to see the game go in a direction we didn’t necessarily expect, with a more typed “horror” level in particular, which has its effect. The graphical result therefore meets expectations, especially for a game that does not benefit from a huge budget.

Short on the legs

Lost 8 5

This observation would undoubtedly have been different if the game had allowed itself more openness, or if it had had a longer lifespan. Because strayed is an adventure as short as expected, no doubt for its own good. Please wait about 5 to 6 hours to complete the adventure take your time, and maybe 7 to 8 hours to really go around. It’s not a big deal in cat years, but not so much in real life. But it allows him to keep a good rhythm, with situations that know how to renew themselves.

However, we regret that the game’s jumps are automated. We clearly understand the idea behind this, which makes the “parkour” phases smoother and requires less skill from the players (the title is really accessible), but this causes some rather frustrating misses. We sometimes jump on the wrong platforms at the wrong time, reminding us of the dark hours of the first Assassin’s Creedwhere our character didn’t jump in the right place.

No recycling here

Lost 14 6

During our preview, we feared that the more action-oriented phases would end up looking the same, with simple straight chases getting progressively more difficult. Fortunately this is not the case since strayed sometimes introduces mechanics that only serve you for a few minutes, at very specific levels. Sometimes we face microbes that we can kill, while in other circumstances we have to play the cat-and-mouse game (paradoxically, the mouse here), or at other times hide from other enemies with infiltration phases.

This prevents the repetition of situations and renews the interest of the gameplay, even though we would have liked the game to be a bit more generous with even more different tools, especially when we see that the ending is a bit abrupt and frankly lacks a climax.

We generally remain dissatisfied with the story we are told, even if we have collected many objects that allow us to better understand this world. We nevertheless benefit from a beautiful friendship between our four-legged hero and B12, as well as with the various robots that we will meet and help us. It’s also funny to note that the game knows how to show humor with many references hidden everywhereespecially with robots with ambiguous names that appeal to pop culture, but we’ll let you find that out for yourself.

Leave a Comment