Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be a cat? Games like Red Dead Redemption let you pet stray animals. Warframe, Fallout 4 and others, let players get companion animals that assist you in battle.
However, to play and to behave like a feline - to the player's utmost desire, has never been done before.
The recently released title by BlueTwelve Studio 'Stray' allows players to bring out their inner cat.
Stray is a post-apocalyptic puzzle platforming game where the players take the role of a moggy cat to traverse the unknown. The gameplay is handled in the most cat-like way possible and it is an adventure like no other.
To feel like a cat is very important in the game, and it shows how much effort has been put into this feature just from the animations alone.
The protagonist, a slender ginger tabby, is part of a small feline colony that lives in a decommissioned industrial district that has been reclaimed by nature. Steering clear from spoilers, after a mishap in the first few minutes of the story, the player cat is separated from his colony and thrown into an entirely different world.
He befriends a small drone, known as B-12, that becomes a trusted companion in this adventure. The drone becomes a translator for all the sentient robots that inhabit this world.
B-12 also provides players with more ways to interact with the world around them, such as the ability to hack doors, kill scary flesh-eating aliens, or illuminate bleak and depressing avenues during their exploration.
Apart from B-12's assistance, Stray utilises the skills that a cat would provide in this situation. The game gives players a lot of mobility and manoeuvrability. Each leap looks fantastic, with detailed animation that makes the movements look as natural and graceful as a ballerina, pretty much like real life cats and how they navigate through their environment.
Actions can be chained together to make the gameplay feel fast and fluid, giving you a rush from the momentum. There are a few instances where the player might unintentionally jump away from an intended spot. Coming down from a high perch can sometimes be more difficult than getting up due to the need to rotate the camera to see a platform. But these moments are so brief that they hardly detract you from the fluid experience.
Stray lets players explore small hub areas at their leisure, but there are also more linear, focused sections in the story as well.
The hubs teach you the limits of the feline protagonist, letting you interact with the environment, while providing neat secrets for you to discover as you find small pathways that only a cat will be able to navigate through.
Linear sections are typically focused on speed, which require you to chain jumps while figuring out what is and isn't feasible, given your small size.
However, there are a few sequences that aren't as enjoyable. Most of these appear during the first half of the adventure, and often include having to avoid groups of enemies who jump and latch onto you in numbers in order to bring you down.
It's not that the puzzles involving these creatures are poorly designed. Rather than providing you with strategic ways to deal with them, these enemy types frequently require you to run around while trying to dodge them. This is exacerbated by the fact that these enemies can sometimes jump much higher than you were led to believe, making the safety of perches feel erratic.
For those of you who are still wondering, playing as a cat can be a lot of fun. Stray's pacing is balanced. Throughout your adventure you are given new tools to utilise for B-12, and the game introduces new enemies to keep things fresh. There are fast paced sections and players can enjoy relaxing and exploring the world at their leisure when things calm down. Nothing ever overstays its welcome. It is a short entertaining adventure and a very unique gameplay experience, especially if you like cats.