I just completed my first playthrough of Stray, and I have to say, this thing blew me away.

When I first picked up the game, I was expecting a walking simulator-style game, a super-chill game where you solve some lite puzzles while exploring a cyberpunk world as a cat. And, I mean, Stray kind of is that in the beginning, but it stretches out and does way more than that by the end. This is a super ambitious game, and an incredibly well-designed one.

There are some unexpected genre shifts, as the game opens up into a mini open world about halfway through. It briefly dabbles in some horror elements, and even includes some combat. It never really commits to any of those aforementioned genres, but it definitely plays with them before getting bored and moving on.

Kind of like a cat.


And can I just say that Stray absolutely nails the whole cat thing? It forced me to re-train my brain to see every piece of scenery as a collection of platforms that would allow me to climb higher — which I imagine is the way an actual cat would see its environment. On top of that, the game features scratching things and knocking things off shelves as gameplay mechanics. Spot on, Stray! Spot on!

But perhaps the best thing about this game is how well-designed its world is. This whole thing is messy and broken-down, but beautiful at the same time. Part of that is just how damn good its lighting effects are, where lamps create a warm glow that will fill a room, or neon signs color the sides of nearby buildings. It’s some incredibly good stuff, and it made this world an absolute joy to explore.

And then, without spoiling anything, there are characters who have really well-constructed arcs. Even a character you’ll only see for maybe 10 or 15 minutes might have an elaborate backstory that you’ll uncover through environmental details, like piles of belongings or notes left around their living space.


And Stray even contains its own language (which I meticulously decoded so I could start translating signs and newspaper headlines and whatnot). It’s this attention to detail that really stitches this whole experience together.

Stray isn’t super long, but it’s got a ton of depth and a ton of heart. I have to admit that this is one of the best games I played so far in 2022. Stray is fantastic, and if you own a PlayStation console or a gaming-capable PC, you should definitely check it out. It might win you over too!

Disclaimer: I got Stray for PS5 via the PlayStation Plus program, and the opinions expressed in this article are my own. I completely forgot to ask for a review code for this, so I had to wait for release to play it, like the rest of the world.

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