Since the announcement of the game in 2020, Stray has been one of the highest anticipated games to date. Following some delays, the game has finally been released in July of 2022. It is suitable for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows. Since the story follows a stray cat that wanders through a city populated by robots, machines, and viruses, many fans have been wondering; is Stray actually a horror game? How scary and gorry is Stray?
Stray is not a horror game. By genre, it is an adventure game, not a horror game – though it is spiced up with a few creepy moments. The game itself is rated PG12, which means it can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters. It contains a few slight hints of horror with elements like strange creatures that could be considered Lovecraftian horror references.
There are also a few scenarios in which the cat could be injured and die throughout the game, but even that couldn’t be described as really gorry or gruesome; when fatally injured, the screen goes red, before quickly reloading from the last autosave. Overall, it is a game with minimal fantasy violence and little to no explicit gore scenes, which means anyone above 10 years of age can enjoy it.
I’ve you’ve been wondering what the hype’s all about – you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right into the details about what makes Stray so brilliant, scary, and incredibly sad. Beware, though; you will want to play it!
Some basic info about Stray
As we’ve already mentioned, Stray is a 2022 adventure video game. It was developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive. According to their official website, Stray is a third-person, single-player cat adventure game set “amidst the detailed, neon-lit alleys of a decaying cybercity and the murky enviroments of its seedy underbelly.” Whew! If you still aren’t convinced, wait until you hear more.
The game is full of mystery and stealth, promising to deliver unforeseen threats by the place inhabited by curious droids and dangerous creatures. It also allows you to see the world through the eyes of a cat; you can be as stealthy and as silly as you want. On top of that, along the way, you will befriend a small flying drone, known as B-12. With the help of your newfound companion, you will find a way out of the post-apocalyptic cybercity.
What’s also interesting is that Stray was aesthetically influenced by Kowloon Walled City – an ungoverned and densely populated de jure Chinese enclave within the boundaries of Kowloon City, British Hong Kong, which was originally a Chinese military fort.
As a matter of fact, the gameplay experience was also inspired by real life. Specifically, by the developers’ cats, Murtaugh and Riggs!
So, what exactly would make the game scary?
As it has already been mentioned, Stray is not a horror game. But, it does contain a few elements that could possibly make the player feel uneasy, or even disturbed.
To begin with, the game is focused on a stray cat that has been injured and separated from its family, which by itself is devastatingly sad, especially for animal lovers. It feels unbearable watching animals suffer, even if it’s in a fantasy video game. And, up until it meets its’ drone companion, the cat has to explore and survive in an unwelcoming post-apocalyptic city by himself. A lot of the exploring has to do with crazy high rooftops and other small, uncomfortable places. This alone could make anyone feel uncomfortable.
What makes the overall vibe genuinely scary, though, are the creatures that chase and attack you throughout the game. Running away from them is enough to get your anxiety levels going, but seeing a cat get hurt, even in a video game, is truly disturbing to most people. As the creatures are attacking you, the screen is gradually getting more red, until you are fatally injured. Don’t worry, though – you can quickly reload from the last autosave.
So, even though the game is not highly graphic and explicitly gorry, some scenes are truly uneasy to watch; for example, the scary environments and the creatures popping in combat, leaving unexplained blood-like fluid behind.
Is the game worth playing, though?
Some critics were divided on the combat sequences, but, overall, the game received highly positive reviews. The particular praise was directed at its cat perspective and narrative, along with incredible artistic design and visuals. Since it’s a third-person adventure game, the player controls the cat. This means that you forget you’re human for a while and leap across platforms, climb up obstacles, and even claw at objects! In other words, if you’ve ever encountered an unexplainable desire to claw at someone’s couch…now’s your chance.
Oh, and did we mention that the game also presents several optional activities, such as sleeping, meowing, and even nuzzling up to non-player characters? It might seem too good to be true, but the game does have open-world elements, which will allow you to roam whenever and wherever you want. You can also collect badges, which will then be displayed on the cat’s backpack. And, don’t forget that the world is populated by robots (hint: they will play songs upon being provided with music sheets that you can find around the slums!). So, what are you waiting for?