Stray preview: Cat adventure has us feline fine

. 28 days ago
An image of Gameplay in Stray with the preview logo
BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive

Stray, the upcoming title from indie dev, BlueTwelve Studio – where players step into the shoes of a furry feline for a post-apocalyptic adventure – is shaping up to be absolutely purrfect, if our hands-off preview is anything to go by.

Go for a walk, Dog’s Life, there’s another, slinkier pet in town. In Stray, players will experience a futuristic cityscape, where adventure, puzzles, and one of the cutest little droids you’ve ever seen come together in what may be one of the most unique games of 2022.

In our hands-off preview, Dexerto had the chance to get a peek behind the curtain at gameplay in Stray, and what we saw had us eager to jump into the furry paws of this feline adventure.

The cat in Stray laying on a pool table with a Robot beside it
BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive
Is there anything better than an impromptu self-care session?

Move aside Lara Croft and Nathan Drake – there’s a new explorer in town

It has to be said — I’m not a cat person. It’s not that I don’t like them per se, they are adorable – I’ve just always had dogs as pets in my family. And yet, what I saw during Stray’s hands-off preview session may have put my fondness for man’s best friend to the ultimate test.

Stray, this apocalyptic, mystery-based adventure game, which according to the team, will take about nine to ten hours to complete (if you’re set on exploring and uncovering everything) is packed full of beautiful environments. Each of them tells its own tale – both through the world itself and the humanoid-looking robots inhabitants you’ll meet there.

With several stories in Stray to uncover, whether that’s the cat’s own journey, the city itself, or B12 (your little robot companion) there’s plenty to learn. Speaking of B12, this cute drone is vital to uncovering the world and progressing throughout it, as it’s able to translate text for you, examine items, and according to the devs, will get more powerful over time. As you explore together, you’ll collect ‘Memories’, which are fragments of data that B12 gathers to teach you about the world and its lore.

The feline protagonist is fantastically animated, using one of the game dev’s own cats as a reference point. As it navigates this post-apocalyptic world, I was blown away by the effort that the team had put in to fully realize it. Swann Martin-Raget, the producer at BlueTwelve, stated that designing a game with a quadrupedal character wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of technical challenges in regards to camera and animation — particularly due to its small size compared with the rest of the environment.

The cat in Stray being chased by a group of Zurks
BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive
There’s puzzles, chases, and plenty to explore in Stray.

It’s a cat’s life for me

Throughout the presentation, it was evident that BlueTwelve has strived to make this virtual feline as realistic as possible in Stray. Whether it’s by being able to scratch on doors (which can call someone inside to open it), sofas, floors, or taking stock and watching a bit of TV – it’s all here. Specific areas will let you stretch out and take a well-earned nap, and there’s even a meow button (because of course there is). Feel like annoying your NPCs or even yourself? Martin-Raget stated that some cutscenes can even be meowed through to be “as annoying as you want to be.” You’ll even hear a little purr from time to time, and you’re able to interact with the robots in this world and, in some instances, even be petted by them.

Using all your ultra-tuned feline skills, you’ll knock items off of surfaces, block fans to progress to new areas, and even hop into a bucket tied by a bit of rope that makes for a perfect cat-sized elevator. There are plenty of physics-based puzzles to traverse, using the protagonist’s weight to progress forward, stealth sections where you’ll need to hide in cardboard boxes, or chases to escape an onslaught of enemies – some of who are blob-like creatures known as ‘Zurks’.

An image of the cat in Stray sat in a bucket
BlueTwelve Studio / Annapurna Interactive
Stray has plenty of verticality on offer, thanks to its agile protagonist.

This futuristic and simultaneously slightly retro action-adventure from BlueTwelve’s small indie team looks to be packed full of content to explore and uncover in its short overall runtime, and I can’t wait to explore this city once Stray arrives later this Summer on July 19, 2022.

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