Stray Review (PS5) – A Neon Soaked Visual Treat With A Story To Match

Wandering PS5 Review. They say curiosity killed the cat – what they didn’t tell you is that curiosity may also have brought the cat down to a neon-soaked underworld ravaged by a pandemic and filled with a wide range of temperamental robots.

But that’s exactly where curiosity led the chat in French developer Stray BlueTwelve Studiomaiden voyage of in video game development. And what a trip it turned out to be.

Wandering PS5 review

Stray is a visual tour de force and confident debut from developer BlueTwelve Studio

As you’d expect, Stray lets you control a lone nameless cat in many ways beyond simple movement, from a scratching post mechanism initiated by a sequential tap of the L2/R2 trigger, to a “meow ” dedicated.

It also freely allows the kind of dismissive — but adorable — behavior that some cats are known for, like knocking things off shelves, scratching carpet, and stepping on keyboards (particularly useful for entering passwords). All key game mechanics in their own right, as we’ll soon find out.

More fundamentally, though, is how integrated the cat’s movement is into the game’s design – from winding piping to beams suspended in the air, the world may seem to overshadow this little feline at all times, but in reality, he is very attentive to his sensitivity.

Perhaps most striking right of the bat is Stray’s visual design, an atmospheric mix of sharp neon lights with a distinct background of decomposition and industrial waste. Aside from the garish neon arrows, the game oozes style, with its varied locations, lighting, and populated environments.

Wandering PS5 review

It’s the aforementioned piping that ultimately triggers the proceedings, when an unfortunate jump through a gap leads to injury and leaves us to fend for ourselves. After being separated from a gang of feral cats, our protagonist traverses a densely populated slum filled with makeshift shops, narrow alleyways and tall interconnecting dwellings – all of which happen to be a perfect foil for such an agile cat as our red hero.

As you work your way through the slum by climbing buildings, slipping through windows and crevices, you’ll encounter the robot dwellers, many of whom will refer to “outside” and talk about the dangers who live beyond the security zone; others will simply barter with you or ask you to find them a blanket knitted by a robot grandmother.

Luckily, you’re not alone as you can count on the help of a little drone companion you meet named B-12, who acts as a translator, item carrier – which is helpful as you You’ll find yourself collecting trinkets to give to lots of the robots – as well as a hacker who can unlock doors or operate different types of machines. B-12 also brings color to what is already a visually resplendent game, with its insight, personal story, and the way it stitches together the various narrative beats as they unfold.

From there, you’ll soon discover that the Zurks – a metal-munching bacterial lifeform that bears a striking similarity to that of the Headcrabs of Half-Life – have effectively isolated these pockets of the robot population into areas, be it the aforementioned slums, a dilapidated tower block, or even a sprawling downtown district – and traveling in packs, they maintained a stranglehold on many of the relatively docile inhabitants.

In terms of gameplay, then, this manifests itself in a kind of division between hub-like areas and interconnected linear paths that generally revolve around climbing, light puzzle solving, and stealth. For the first, you’ll be tasked with exploring the area, interacting with robots, performing side tasks that can serve the critical path, and searching for collectable “souvenirs” and other translatable doodles that shed light on this. which has been going on for years. past.

It’s in these pockets that Stray really purrs, partly because of the visual language and density, but perhaps even more so because of how your interactions with the robot population shape the narrative and deepen the plot. for what will happen.

Wandering PS5 Review

With that, although it’s a proverb commonly associated with cats, curiosity is a trait shared by all in the game – a curiosity held by robots about sentience, memory, a lost world and a world at hand. It also manifests as fear, doubt and determination. As a result, what’s perhaps surprising is just how well Stray delivers his story.

With a solid cast of varied characters throughout its six-hour runtime (more if you’re aiming to collect it all), Stray manages to maintain a steady pace and rarely feels like he’s going through the motions, perhaps. be except for what is a slightly laborious start.

Getting to the point of visual language once again, everything in Stray is signaled – perhaps incorrectly when there are specific arrows appearing at different points to direct you when it’s obvious where to go – but let that be nature slapstick of a robot tossing a bucket of paint at another robot across two buildings, to the detail of changing channels on a television, the game often impresses with how it encourages you to tap into the naturally inquisitive nature of a cat.

As a testimonial, you’ll often find yourself interacting and completing certain side quests without encountering the bot that should let you know what’s required, and this shows how Stray manages to direct you to points of interest organically. .

In reality, the gap between the aforementioned central areas and Zurk-infested corridors does well for the pacing of the game as it changes what is expected of the player; central areas are more curious and exploratory and slow down proceedings, while linear corridors are punctuated with chases, light puzzles, and climbing.

As the tension builds and the story progresses, the temperamental nature of the controls and camera work rears its head slightly, but that’s irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Wandering PS5 Review

Momentarily approaching the implementation of DualSense there is a lot of subtlety involved, one of the most pronounced effects being when the cat snuggles up in one of the many beds and starts purring – you can feel it pulsating intermittently through the controller.

Additionally, performance (resisting the urge to spell words that start with “with” like “purr”) is overall good, with an odd framerate drop in the second half of the game and clipping/collision present a handful of times throughout the adventure – the latter of which was supposed to be cleaned up in the game’s day one patch (version 1.02), but we weren’t able to test it at the time of writing.

Although it took several years for Stray to come to fruition, there is no doubt that the end result is truly commendable; a meaningful adventure that manages to convey surprising depth and intrigue, and a story that this lone wanderer is the perfect conduit to tell.

Slight technical issues don’t take away from what is an accomplished first outing for the Montpellier-based outfit, and while Stray is self-contained and right in the direction of the story it wants to tell, we can’t help but to wish we could spend more time with its cast of intriguing characters and the layered world that was so confidently crafted. What is here, however, is something special and an adventure not to be missed.

Stray releases for PS5, PS4 and PC on July 19, 2022.

Revision code provided by PR.

Briana R. Cross