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“Stray has a refreshingly hopeful view of the top of the world”
Placing the cat in disaster
The second I noticed the announcement trailer for Stray, I knew it was a sport I used to be going to play on launch day, no questions requested. I’m a cat mother, in spite of everything, so something with a cat, not to mention as a playable character, is an enormous win in my ebook. Whereas it was fairly straightforward to get me on board with the premise of Stray alone, one factor I wasn’t anticipating was simply how wealthy and compelling the story was going to be on this sport. I imply, it was printed by Annapurna so that ought to have been my first clue, besides, it slipped my thoughts.
To start out, the worldbuilding was extremely detailed and made speaking to NPCs, a fairly necessary mechanic once you’re making an attempt to collect info to your quest, a enjoyable and stunning a part of the sport. It’s the small print that actually bought me, just like the robotic laying on the roof within the Slums trying up on the “stars” which can be truly simply lights on the roof of the town, or the robotic in Midtown who was sitting studying a ebook and philosophizing concerning the “metaphor” of the Outdoors, or the grim element that robots in jail can have their whole reminiscences wiped in order that they’re left as the proper mannequin citizen.
A narrative in vignettes
A overwhelming majority of the NPCs had their very own little tales, not simply in what they had been bodily doing, however in what they considered the town they reside in and the way they deal with being caught there. We now have a transparent throughline with the cat and B-12 having their very own narratives respectively, however most of what we be taught concerning the state of the world and the underground metropolis comes from NPCs giving us glimpses into their lives and inside their heads.
Whereas the entire story of how the town met its demise is an attention-grabbing one, what I discovered most fascinating was how everybody talked concerning the Outdoors. Some had been afraid of it, as a result of it was unknown and due to the dangers they might take to get there. Some had been mystified by it (just like the Outsiders). And a few didn’t even consider it existed in any respect. No matter what they thought individually, the Outdoors had change into one thing of a legend among the many robots after a whole bunch of years within the metropolis, and I can’t say I blame them.
I additionally discovered it so attention-grabbing how the robots would discuss people — they appeared virtually sentimental about who the people had been and what they left behind. With the world seemingly in fixed decline as of late, I’ve had a whole lot of existential panic concerning the concept of people all dying out someday. I truly discover the best way Stray mentioned life after human existence comforting quite than terrifying, which isn’t traditional for me.
One of the charming video games I’ve ever performed
The entire sport has this underlying appeal that runs by way of the whole lot, as a result of it not solely has an cute cat protagonist and cute mechanics like scratching at carpets or taking a nap on a comfy pillow, however as a result of it by some means manages to be actually hopeful within the face of a bleak state of affairs. All the characters that aid you alongside your journey, though they could be dreaming of the Outdoors themselves, selflessly put themselves in hurt’s means or keep behind simply to maintain you shifting ahead.
Even what you may contemplate the antagonists of the sport, the safety robots, weren’t performing with any sort of malicious intent — the protocols that they had been finishing up to maintain everybody within the metropolis are simply remnants from a time when the Outdoors was nonetheless a harmful place.
Hope, even in the long run
What Clementine mentioned in that remaining second the place she helped us escape the jail actually caught with me — even when it meant she couldn’t go together with us, simply the thought of somebody making it to the Outdoors was sufficient for her. Then, in fact, there’s the heartbreaking finale of B-12 sacrificing himself in order that the cat might open the door.
The picture of that little orange cat curled up along with his pal on the ground of the Management Room made me cry greater than a sport has in years. They depart us on the word that whereas there was nice loss, this cat, and the residents of the town, are at a brand new starting full of latest, stunning potentialities. Even in a world the place folks have gone extinct, love and hope can nonetheless thrive, and that’s one of the crucial comforting sentiments I can consider within the face of… nicely what we’re going through.
Stray is actually one in every of my favourite video games not solely of this 12 months, however perhaps of all time. Its story is one which I discover myself nonetheless occupied with, and Stray actually might need helped change my perspective with regards to dreading the top of the world. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than I dive again in and immerse myself in its story once more, as a result of I’m sure there are nonetheless loads of hidden particulars I missed. There’s actually a lot extra to it than I used to be even capable of contact on on this article.
Story Beat is a weekly column discussing something and the whole lot to do with storytelling in video video games.