A fascinating journey on all fours as seen through the eyes of a curious cat
BlueTwelve Studio, a small team from the south of France made up mostly of felines and a few humans, created Stray (web site): a third-person cat adventure game. Released for PlayStation and PC by Annapurna Interactive on July 19, 2022.
We’ve already discussed it here: STRAY: A meowjestic adventure.
Has it always been your dream to play a protagonist as reserved as it is emblematic as a stray cat? Are you ready to wander without fear and jump from one ledge to another?
Join us again today to discover what prompted such a cute kitten to venture into unfamiliar places. What were the aspects of this project that most impressed us? As always, we invite you to follow us to find out!
THE NEW FRONTIER OF INCLUSIVITY: LANGUAGE BARRIERS AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
The narrative immediately begins with an unpleasant occurrence. After falling off a cliff while walking quietly with his feline family (we can also see a very tender romance in progress), our furry protagonist finds itself in an unknown, dark, and threatening environment.
As is right to expect from a cat, after recovering from the wounds of the disastrous fall, it begins to explore every hole, to jump on every platform, or even the smallest surface on which it can lean with his light weight, and gradually, it ends up penetrating a new world, the one beneath the surface, where everything is artificial, dark, and threatening.
The poor cat, wont to live in the open air, among the lush greenery all around the ruins of what is clearly the world we knew and that no longer exists, now it’s got to do with these cramped quarters known as the Slums.
Here live the fierce Zurks, who attack in packs and devour their prey like land piranhas. You can only avoid these cursed beasts by fleeing.
Led by sporadic neon signs, our little protagonist will finally arrive in an abandoned house where it will make a very important acquaintance.
A dron calls itself B-12 (after our protagonist helps him to reboot his system), explains that it previously assisted a scientist but that much of its memory has been corrupted and requires time to recover. This new friend promises to assist the cat in returning to the surface and follows it further into the city.
After our kitten learns with difficulty to carry B-12 on its back, they will arrive on the roofs of this underground city, primarily lit by neon on an eternally quiet and peaceful night.
Completely devoid of human life, their robotic servants, the Companions, have rebuilt a life of their own, united in a quiet and friendly community.
What struck us the most was that, while the Companions initially mistook our protagonist for a Zurk, once they realized it was not a threat, they welcomed it as if he had always been a part of them, and from there they began to help each other, without prejudice or mistrust.
Thanks to B-12, who acts as a translator, it allows the cat to communicate with the Companions, whose vocal sound is very similar to the villain’s voice in 1984’s Impossible Mission.
We believe there is a significant message behind the overcoming of fear of foreigners. Despite the fact that Companions and duo friends are different and do not speak the same language, they show such a spontaneous union that it made me reflect. Is it because of the cat’s tender appearance, or is there something more to it? Anyway, it’s stunning.
To reach the surface while also assisting the Outsiders, a group of Companions dedicated to finding a way to the surface, the pair first meets Momo, one of these Outsiders, who assigns them critical missions.
The first is to arrive at the antenna and restart it in order to communicate with the “escapees”, specifically Clementine. Then locate Momo’s father, who invented the only weapon capable of countering the Zurk.
Following that, and the subsequent misadventures with the Zurks, the pair are able to travel to the city’s Midtown district, a much more populated and colorful place, full of shops in order to find Clementine, who intends to steal an atomic battery to power a subway train that will take them to the surface. Here, they will face much more difficult opponents: the Sentinels.
A FOUR-LEGGED ADVENTURE FOR CAT LOVERS
Stray‘s play sector stands out from the beginning as something extremely strong and pleasant, designed to accompany the narrative and make the experience unique and unforgettable.
Despite the fact that this is their debut project, the BlueTwelve Studio team decides against taking many risks, realizing a flawlessly balanced gameplay for our tiny protagonist.
Despite this, no detail is overlooked: the platforming phases are wonderfully done, and the exploration component constantly stimulates and teases the player’s imagination, thanks to the variety of collectibles found in each and every game section.
The game also has solutions that are typical of the most classic open-world games, but have been reinterpreted and reworked in a different key. Every detail of the playful component is designed to never overpower the narrative and technical sectors, but rather to gently complement them.
We can only understand our four-legged pets once we play with them. It’s literally impossible to resist getting your nails done on carpets and sofas, jumping into a box, and dropping bottles and vases.
While the development team could risk a little more on the puzzle sessions, Stray’s gameplay convinced us overall. Although we expected something more; especially in the most hectic and anxious phases of the game.
In short if you’re a cat lover and you can’t wait to ruin the first chair in front of you, sit down on your sofa and get ready to be terribly mischievous and unpredictable just like a cat!
A LITTLE PEARL WITH A THOUSAND CONTRASTS
It’s very difficult to denote which aspect of Stray is the greatest, especially given the polish and attention that the development team sought to put into every feature.
But, if forced to choose, we can only underline BlueTwelve Studio‘s remarkable work in the the technical sector and artistic direction.
The atmospheres are great, and the whole game experience is something special, with a constant search for the contrast between the brilliant lights of the city and the overwhelming feeling of being swallowed up by darkness.
The chromatic choices are brilliant and it’s incredible to discover that every moment, every single action performed by our little kitty lends itself to the performance for a photo shoot.
Stray’s distinctly Japanese-inspired setting adds to its allure, with a precise and comprehensive portrayal of both the city areas and the houses, as well as the numerous interior spaces.
The sound sector also makes Stray a little masterpiece even for our keen ears. The soundtrack’s construction, the protagonist’s nice and annoying “meow,” and any of our activities are all complemented by absolutely realistic and satisfying sound effects.
We can therefore confirm our first positive thoughts and give credit to the developers for attempting to reflect and produce cats in their real essence and achieving admirably!
And, although we’re certain that the developers might have pushed themselves even further, it’s equally evident that Stray has nothing to envy to more noble works, both technically and artistically.
AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY
Stray was a memorable experience. One of those breathtaking adventures that everyone should do at least once in their lives.
BlueTwelve Studio‘s work excels in (nearly) every way, and you can plainly notice the developers’ attention to detail in every aspect of the game.
The realization of the gameplay is excellent and never overpowers the narrative or the technical sector, which are unquestionably Stray’s backbones.
The development team could perhaps have dared a little more, but what else could we criticize about this project?
Stray is their first project, and as such, it fully satisfied us by the work the developers have done on this game. We would therefore like to recommend it to you regardless of what your tastes are in the videogame field.
We just have to congratulate BlueTwelve Studio on their great effort on this title and invite you to go on this fantastic journey to uncover the ancient world.