Gaming just doesn’t feel the same way anymore. These days, many games follow the same generic notion, including major franchises like Call of Duty and Far Cry, which repeatedly follow the same pattern with every title, with little innovation. They have some good reasons for this. As these titles are the largest to be produced in the gaming world, it is safe for them to use their traditional methods.
So, where does innovation come from? Well, indie games have an exquisite amount of diversity due to many reasons. They have lower budgets and smaller teams, but all the ideas. This is why some of the greatest games are made by these small developers. Unfortunately, best does not always mean popular, so they get overshadowed.
Now imagine the ideas of an indie developer coupled with a fairly large studio; the product would look something revolutionary, like Stray. Many games like What Remains of Edith Finch and Outer Wilds were made with these parameters in mind.
However, most of these games are hard to make, so developers try to make more adventure games where they do not have to focus on other aspects, like combat. Hence, most of their efforts go toward experience and world-building, and Stray has perfected this system.
Perhaps, the greatest appeal about Stray that I found was that it focused on narrative and world-building rather than gameplay. Now, I would have loved a cybernetic cat with a few lasers blasting at everything it sees, but the approach that was taken was much more vivid, more than any action game could hope to achieve.
Stray is a purr-ely adventure game, with the most intense sequences being a few chase scenes. The game hits you with its detailed world and characters that feel so out of tune with reality that it shows how long they have been captive.
Not only does the game have a robust story, but this is also the first that the protagonist was a cat. For me, this was unlikable at first, but that changed as soon as I heard our protagonist “meow” every time I hit a certain button. Coupled with dropping tin cans, scratching on sofas and carpets, and burning the daylights out of the zurks, it does not get old.
As the world of gaming progresses, future titles need something new and interesting to capture the audience. Just from the look of the trailers, we could see the uniqueness that Stray presented. This innovation is something the entire gaming world needs to implement. We can’t stay stuck on the same 20-year-old principle, now can we?
Games with long durations of playability need to have enough new mechanics to keep the players entertained. Many games of this generation, which are AAA, focus on quantity over quality. However, Stray tries to give you an entire experience in a short, colorful world. For some, this is a negative that they cannot spend more time with our protagonist, but for some, it is more enjoyable when a title does not overstay its welcome.
Finally, we come to the story; Stray takes a simple approach to a beautifully crafted story. We traverse a densely detailed world looking for answers; when we find the answers, we find out they aren’t as joyous as we hoped. From here, we go and try to save our robot friends from being stuck in a dome for the rest of eternity.
There are many people who disliked Stray as a whole. This could have been due to the fact that the game is for those looking for a story, not gameplay. However, the other spectrum absolutely loved the game. It is all about perspective; some enjoy it, and some hate it, but nearly everyone adores cats.
Most of the people who hate the game are due to it being extremely overhyped and not delivering to that extent. No game is perfect, but Stray is pretty close. This might be the reason for the hate that it has been receiving for some time.
In conclusion, Stray is a divine title, one that we probably won’t see being replicated for a long time to come. Although titles like The Witness and Journey take a similar approach to Stray, they are entirely different. Such an experience is one that I won’t forget.
Oh, and one more thing, the detail in this title is remarkable. The company that captivated the robots was called “Neco”. In Japanese culture, cats are beloved, and, coincidentally, in Japanese, cats are called “Neko”. With this much love and detail poured into the game, everyone should at least try it.
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