It’s Christmas? Well, in the world of print we do tend to work a month or two in advance. Consider the new issue of Edge an early festive gift, then: E365 offers a veritable advent calendar’s worth of delicious treats, not least of which is our cover game, Stray.
Developed by BlueTwelve, a studio founded by two former Ubisoft alumni, it began life as HK Project, before indie super-publisher Annapurna Interactive took the French studio under its wing. Now, after several years of development, this unique action-adventure is shaping up really rather well.
Not that the same can be said for its four-legged protagonist as our demo starts: after a rare fall (it turns out cats don’t always land on their feet) he’s limping in an upsettingly convincing way. Yet it’s not long before he’s scampering across pipes and leaping nimbly up to rooftops via handy air-conditioning units, all care of a smartly streamlined control system that makes platforming a breeze. Well, it wouldn’t feel like you were playing a cat if you kept missing jumps, after all.
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This dystopian urban jungle is both forbidding and inviting: you need to be wary of the scuttling bug-like creatures you catch glimpses of in the early game, but the robots that populate the place are a friendly bunch. Via a floating drone that lives in the cat’s backpack, you can communicate with them, and they’ll give you clues about where you should head next as you look to escape the city and reunite with your feline family.
But it’s Stray’s protagonist that is the star of the show: beyond indulging your curiosity (though not too much: you know what that does to cats) as you poke your whiskers everywhere you shouldn’t, you can indulge in a bit of mischief: scattering bottles, scratching sofas and even curling up on a makeshift bed and having a catnap. If it all looks convincingly real, that’s partly because this studio of cat-lovers has had many gigabytes’ worth of data to refer to. As producer Swann Martin-Raget explains, “The helpful thing is that it looks like the Internet was made for posting cat pictures and videos so we do have a lot to work from.”
There’s plenty more to sink your claws into elsewhere in E365: a progress update on Image & Form’s delightfully gloopy action-adventure The Gunk, for starters, not to mention previews of Oxenfree 2, A Memoir Blue and the fascinating Backbeat: a ‘90s-set funk music-powered puzzler from some of the creative talent behind Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. We talk to one of the most influential figures in the medium’s early years, as Nolan Bushnell reflects on his career to date, and chat with the leading lights of Montreal’s burgeoning development scene.
As the temperature drops, what better candidate for an expansive Making Of feature than 11 Bit Studios’ dystopian city-builder/survival game Frostpunk? And if you’re in the mood for something more upbeat, Time Extend has a look at Genshin Impact’s fresh approach to open-world RPGs.
Our review section, meanwhile, includes the Edge verdicts on Metroid Dread, Far Cry 6, Back 4 Blood and Lost Judgment, though the real surprises – as is so often the case at Christmas – come in smaller packages, including the ingenious platform-puzzler Elec Head and Witch Beam’s captivating tidy-’em-up Unpacking. In other words, E365 makes for the perfect companion to curl up with on these long winter evenings, and it’s on sale right now.