In Stray, you get to play as a cat. If you're anything like me, that alone is probably enough to sell you on this upcoming adventure from developer BlueTwelve Studio. But as well as having an adorable factor, there's added appeal in the prospect of being able to adopt the nimble characteristics and abilities of a cat. From leaping up onto air vents to jumping across rooftops and hopping onto pipelines, the feline protagonist gives us a uniquely agile means of traversal.
And from everything we've seen so far, you're going to want to put these skills to use to explore the intriguing neon-tinted setting of Stray. As the cat, you'll be separated from your friends and family and find yourself lost in a cybercity inhabited by robots. While these residents, with their heads displaying flickering screens, appear to be rather friendly and human-like, it soon becomes clear that this isn't a safe place for our paw-some lead to be.
Developer BlueTwelve Studio
Publisher Annapurna Interactive
Platforms PC, PS4, PS5
As producer Swann Martin-Raget tells our friends at Edge magazine, the environment was designed in such a way to evoke a sense of alienation as a cat in a city of machines – right down to the language used on street signs. "Obviously this place is supposed to be at least unwelcoming," says Martin-Raget. "This is why we also developed an alphabet for the whole language for the game – to have players really feel that they don't understand this place and they don't get all the codes of this environment."
Thankfully, you won't have to navigate your way through this unwelcoming city entirely on your own. At a certain point in your journey, the cat will meet a little drone known as B-12. This small flying friend will become your helpful companion and add to your skillset as you try to make your way out of the city. As Martin-Raget explains, B-12 is a "character that has the same goal as you, of leaving the city. You're going to learn more about his background as well and his nature, too. His role is really to expand the abilities of the cat."
Since you're not able to understand the language of the city, B-12 is able to help you communicate with the robot residents. And while your lithe form is effective when it comes to traveling across the cityscapes, B-12 can interact with objects in the world your paws can't reach or help you with technology you can't make sense of. By working together, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about this curious place and its inhabitants.
After all, we still don't know much about the unique world of Stray. I'm already drawn to discovering more about this forgotten city, and how it came to be home to robots with human-like qualities. And as Martin-Raget wrote in a PlayStation blog last year, there will be plenty of us to uncover if we're willing to look for it: "There's quite a lot to find and learn about this forgotten city and the surprising characters who live in it! Not everything will be explained clearly, so it will be up to the most attentive and insightful players to figure out what exactly this place is, who these inhabitants and creatures are, and the story and purpose of this beguiling world in which we are immersed."
The gameplay trailer gave us glimpses of just how much attention to detail there is in the environments, and knowing there's plenty to learn makes the prospect of journeying through the setting all the more enticing. While it's not an open-world adventure in the same way as adventures like Sable, there will be times where you'll find yourself in an area that's a little more free-roaming and open. But it's not all about exploration, there will be plenty of dangerous, fast-paced scenarios, or as Martin-Raget puts it to Edge, "fast-paced action sections to improve the rhythm of the adventure". This blend of action meets exploration looks set to scratch our curious itch and keep us on our toes, or, well, paws, as we progress.
Even with its tantalizing setting full of human-like machines and the promise of action and exploration, there's no denying just how excited I am to enjoy the playful side of being a cat. As well as offering us a new kind of perspective in an adventure game as a feline, Studio BlueTwelve is letting us do all manner of little cat activities that will really let us embody the role and no doubt add to the cuteness. "The cat is definitely the star of the show in the game though, and it was important for us to show a glimpse of all the playful interactions that he can have with his environment," says Martin-Raget in the PlayStation blog. "Some of them are useful and will help solve puzzles as you progress, and some are just here because cats will be cats – and as most cat owners know painfully well, no sofa can be left unscratched."
To learn more about Stray and to read the rest of the interview with producer Swann Martin-Raget, pick up issue 365 of Edge magazine.
All throughout January, GamesRadar+ is exploring the biggest games of the new year with exclusive interviews, hands-on impressions, and in-depth editorials. For more, be sure to follow along with Big in 2022.