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《Stray》 Review: Play as a stray cat and experience a wonderful adventure

After the release of the first trailer, “Stray” attracted the attention of many players and even topped the Steam wish list near its release. This new product, which has no IP support and is not “from a prestigious family”, has attracted much attention before its release because the protagonist controlled by players in the game is a cute orange cat, and the story is set in a declining cyber city. This combination is both novel and attractive to many players.

The story of the game takes place in a mysterious city where humans have long ceased to exist. Self-aware bionic robots roam the streets and alleys. A small orange cat lost to its companions mistakenly enters this unfamiliar city and accidentally activates a drone called B-12 on the way. Players need to play as cats and cooperate with B-12, delve into the city, get rid of potential dangers, and find a way to reunite with their companions.

Human extinction, a city with only cats and robots, this setting is somewhat similar to the story of “Three Robots” in “Love, Death and Robots”. However, in “Stray”, the behavior of the robots is not much different from that of humans, and a complete social system has been established. On the other hand, the game also shows a lot of Cyberpunk elements.

The combination of red, blue, and purple tones, as well as a large number of neon lights and projections, creates a strong visual impact. The bustling and noisy “Midtown” contrasts sharply with the silence and loneliness of the lower “slums”. The powerful enterprise Neco Group controls the entire city, while outside the city, there is a terrifying creature called Junke threatening the survival of the lower class civilians.

Controlling the cat to explore is the most important part of the game process. In order to conform to the cat’s way of action and make the game more immersive, the production team spent a lot of effort on action design.

The prototype of the protagonist is a stray cat named Murtaugh rescued by the producer.

The terrain structure of each urban area in “Stray” is very three-dimensional. Due to controlling a cat, players cannot explore from the “front” most of the time. Like in reality, cats in the game can easily climb onto air conditioning units, cabinets, beams, or pass through narrow gaps and holes. Therefore, players often need to put themselves in the cat’s perspective to find a way to pass the level.

There is no clear map or target guidance in the game, and it sometimes takes some time to find a suitable route in realistic scenes. However, there are clear prompts in the picture when approaching climbing and jumping points. The cat itself does not have a designed jumping action, and the jumping between platforms is automatically completed after pressing the key. Therefore, the threshold of the game is not high in terms of operation skills. In addition, although the structure of the area seems complex and changeable, “Stray” is still a linear process game as a whole.

At the same time, the production team also designed very rich actions and interactive elements for the cats. There is a special cat meowing button in the game, which can make the cats make different sounds; the corner of the bookcase or even the chest of the robot can become a good place for the cats to nap; of course, players can also control the cats to suddenly jump on the table to scare people, or rub their legs to show intimacy.

Cats can put paper bags on their heads from the roadside, but this will make it difficult to see the road clearly. When moving, the directional keys need to be operated in reverse.

The above interactive options are not just about making cats act cute, they can also play a significant role in the process of adventure . The meowing of cats can attract the attention of enemies; scratching can tear off fabrics; overturning bottles and cans can wake up sleeping robots or smashing windows to find new passages… In terms of action performance and exploration and puzzle-solving ideas design, “Stray” is very consistent with the behavioral logic of cats in reality.

When scratching the door, the resident will come out to check the movement. At this time, the cat needs to crawl in through the door crack below

“Stray” does not give cats any personality traits like animal movies like “Jungle Red Heart”. The protagonist in the game can be said to be a very ordinary cat, not to mention the setting of understanding robot language. The dialogue “translation” work in the plot is mostly done by drone B-12.

Drone B-12 is the inseparable companion of the cat in the game. His memory is an important lead that connects the entire main storyline. As for his personal story, it will not be discussed in detail here because it involves spoilers. In addition, he will also play a considerable auxiliary role in the exploration process, such as lighting, translating text, indicating mission goals, collecting items, equipping purification guns to eliminate fungi, and so on.

In “Stray”, clear divisions are made for each area. In addition to using bright colors, light and shadow effects, and massive details to build the city, the structural design of some areas is also eye-catching.

Take “slums” as an example. At first glance, there are many ordinary low-rise buildings everywhere. However, when players control cats, they can use vending machines and store signs on the ground as pedals, and follow the windows and air conditioning units outside the building to the roof. At the same time, there are wooden boards and ceilings connected between the rooftops of the buildings. These facilities are integrated with the entire scene, and the passages and paths are interconnected. The seemingly ordinary scene has hidden mysteries inside, and the exploration experience in it is quite interesting.

In addition to “slums”, there are also large robot living areas such as “Ant Village” and “Midtown” in the game. “Ant Village” is a civilian settlement built on a garbage dump, and people’s residences are built around a large water tower with a unique appearance. Players can use the surrounding railings and pipes to climb to the top step by step.

As for “Midtown”, it is similar to the urban design in most Cyberpunk works. The streets are brightly lit and colorful, but no matter how bright the colors are, they cannot conceal the dirty and messy environment of the entire city. The buildings in “Midtown” no longer have path designs similar to “slums”, and players’ exploration mainly focuses on some residential buildings, nightclubs, and other shops.

There are also scenes such as sewers, dead cities, prisons, etc. interspersed between the urban areas. The design of these areas is closer to the traditional action-adventure level, mainly focusing on finding routes to pass, while also including some simple elements of infiltration and combat.

Junke, a one-eyed monster, is the main enemy in the game. Their posture and behavior patterns are similar to mice, and they often appear in groups. After discovering their prey, they will rush forward and cling to the target’s body like a leech until the target falls.

In the first half of the game, players can only avoid them by using some terrain traps or directly escaping. After the middle stage, they can use the purification gun installed on the B-12 to directly eliminate the fungus. The operation of the purification gun is also very simple, without the need to aim too deliberately. Just continue to irradiate the appearing fungus, and the only thing players need to care about is the cooling of the purification gun.

In the sewer, some fungus eggs will quickly hatch and rush towards the target after sensing the organism

The puzzle elements in the game are not many, and there will be some diving levels in the later chapters, which are designed relatively simply. Overall, the focus of the game is on cats, scene shaping, and exploration experience, while the rest of the content is not portrayed too much. As the freshness brought by the theme fades away, the problem of single gameplay will also be exposed.

In the game, you can collect music scores and give them to homeless artists to play for cats.

As a unique action adventure game, “Stray” has put a lot of effort into the design of the cats and scenes that are emphasized, and the effects presented in the game are also quite outstanding. However, the gameplay design in all aspects of the game is relatively simple and the experience is somewhat monotonous.

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