Game News Stray: Everything you need to know about the cutest game of the year
Cat lovers discovered in the summer of 2020, Stray, a narrative adventure game carried by an absolutely adorable and superbly animated ginger cat. The four-legged protagonist could be seen wandering around a futuristic city populated by robots. His mission: to find his way home under the glow of neon lights. Today, we’re sharing five things you need to know about Stray, the cutest game of the year.
- A narrative game with some puzzles =
- A cyber-city
- In the skin of a cat =
- First project =
- Temporary exclusion
The following text is a transcript of the video above
A narrative game with some puzzles =
No name or history is given to this red cat during its presentations. We only know that he comes out of nowhere and finds himself completely lost in the immensity of a cyber-city. Here is what the description sheet tells us: a stray cat must solve an ancient mystery to escape a forgotten cyber-city and return home. The representatives of the BlueTwelve studio assure that the narration will be the cornerstone of the adventure. Our cat is not alone since he is equipped with a backpack that serves as a shelter for B-12, a drone that allows our cat to communicate with the robotic inhabitants of the city, but also to interact with its environment. B-12 can also pile up objects and has a flashlight to explore the darkest corners of the sprawling city.
Most of the environmental puzzles and action steps seem to be mostly arranged around the mustachioed protagonist’s natural talents. For example, we saw a short chase sequence with strange fluorescent rat-like creatures that requires full cat agility to be used. The promised straight-line life is seven to eight hours, and 9-10 hours for completionists. BlueTwelve relies on a variation of rhythm and content, which range from simple crossing, then small puzzles, through moments of action and investigation. Now let’s see if the execution proves convincing.
From what we have seen, our cat’s first steps are in a fairly linear progression. Each leap to a new platform is rigorously supervised; missing a ledge is not fit for a cat, so “we have agreed on a compromise where all the jumps will be successful”justifies BlueTwelve. A glance at the following chapters reveals that movements seem less guided and benefit from a certain verticality. To what extent remains to be seen. In particular, the cat can descend from an elevated space by climbing into a bucket pulled by a rope. It is up to him to attract the attention of passers-by so that they throw a few anecdotes at him.
The environments are really attractive and juggle between bustling city centers and more disturbing wastelands. On the Playstation Blog, we have already been introduced to “Antvillage”, a village built around a huge reservoir. The decors are inspired by the old streets of Hong Kong. It is promised that the inhabitants of these places each have a story that defines them. Still difficult to know if they will have much to tell. We note in any case that a mysterious language lines the walls of the alleys.
In the skin of a cat =
For BlueTwelve Studio “building a cat was really the hardest part”. From the use of the camera to the collision systems, it was obviously necessary to reinterpret the space according to the protagonist. And in this sense, the accessibility of the platforms must be just as credible, because the cat, dexterous as it is, is generally able to sneak around as it wishes, and BlueTwelve claims to have taken care of this point in the game. Here no use of motion capture was used for the animation of the chat. Each paw stroke is sketched by hand, and the result is stunning. The process was explained on PlayStation Blog in these terms:
Miko, our chat host, took to the challenge head-on and spent a considerable amount of time researching images and videos to use for reference. During this process, we made a strange, but happy discovery: the whole internet seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of posting photos and videos of cute cats! So we found a lot of good references to work with.
To know also that about 80% of the members of the team own a cat (or that a cat owns them, depending on the point of view, as they say) and inevitably the team quickly felt very inspired in seeing them interact with desktop objects. Roleplay requires, a button allows the little hero to meow at all costs, even during cutscenes, enough to be very annoying if you wish. And if you feel like it, you can also let it snooze in a ball for a moment. Finally, haptic feedback is exploited and will be dedicated to making you feel the physicality of the animal.
First project =
Wander this is the very first attempt by BlueTwelve Studio, a young studio that has around ten employees according to the LinkedIn page. You will be happy to know that the developers are French and based in Montpellier. The studio was formed in 2016 and describes itself as “a small team from the south of France composed mainly of cats and a handful of humans.” We do not know much more about this small team which is still very discreet.
We also have a devblog, still sparse, but where we learn in particular that the game was first codenamed HK before becoming Stray. The very first artwork dates from 2015. The concept was imagined seven years ago by Koola and Viv, the co-founders of BlueTwelve Studio. Swann Martin-Raget, producer at BlueTwelve Studio recently spoke about the evolution of their work: “It’s amazing to think that it’s now a full-fledged game, and players around the world will soon be able to discover and enjoy it. The development took time, and we learned a lot along the way. Among the many difficulties and discoveries of this project, the creation of an interactive chat was clearly the most complicated task!”
But then how could such a small team propel its very first game to the forefront of major conferences like Gamescom or the State of Play? Well, its editor is surely not for nothing! Stray is propelled by the steely reputation of its publisher Annapurna Interactive. The company is already behind huge indie hits, like ”Outer Wilds” or ”What Remains of Edith Finch”.
Those who do not own a PS5 can be reassured, Stray will be a temporary console exclusive! If you are an Xbox player and still want to enjoy the game, there is still hope. On the other hand, we do not know when this exclusivity will end precisely. One thing is certain: Stray will be available on July 19 on PC and PlayStation 5 and will be one of the first games to be released directly in Sony’s new PS+ subscription formula. Concretely, this means that Extra and Premium subscribers will be able to enjoy the game at no additional cost from its launch.