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Everyone Loves A Good Stray, Even Robots

"Mom! Come watch me play this game where I'm a cat in a robot city on my super advanced $500 technology console!" Probably not a sentence you had on your 2022 bingo card, but here we are. Welcome, to the robot slums of Stray.

In Stray, you are, well, a cat. Yup. A cat. The little orange tabby just begging you to snuggle it is the main protagonist in this third-person adventure game. Throughout the game you control the cat, and eventually a little drone companion named B-12, by interacting with the environment in ways only a feral feline can- climbing buildings, knocking things off tables, pawing at vending machines, clawing up couches, and nuzzling/meowing whenever the mood strikes you. Because yes, there's a button for meowing.

While mainly a puzzle game there are elements of an open-world, allowing you to wander where ever you'd like - especially when you feel like taking a little cat nap. However, while it's mostly a game that will bring a smile to your face and an "awww" to your mouth, there are some very aggravating and frankly creepy critters called Zurks that can swarm and devour you. So, it ain't all fuzzy feelings and toe beans in this game.

Though Stray may seem like a pretty surface level game after playing it for a few hours you start to realize there's more than meets the eye. The contrast alone of a small, cute furball against the dismal, though beautiful, cyberpunk slums puts you in a particular headspace. You still feel like it's an easy going game, but you realize these robots have stories to tell and by the looks of it they won't all be happy ones. Some of the conversations (one-sided, obvs) within the game also pull at your heart, "I hope to see the real sky one day." a robot lounging on a rooftop says when you snuggle up beside him. You realize then that there is just a roof with lights simulating a sky above you.

I'm quite sure there are lessons you could pull from this game, and aspects that may be trying to speak to a more human experience, but playing it for the fun of playing it is what I really enjoy about it. Be a cat. Take a break from your life and wander around a city. Then you can return to your real life and not be able to knock things off tables all willy-nilly without people staring at you.



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