On Thursday, Annapurna Interactive held its first ever showcase event. They went around the world and gave a look into all of the games they’re currently assisting with and one of them from BlueTwelve Studio was a much wanted update about the game STRAY. This adventure about a stray cat as it explores the city has been teased many times in the past, but this was the first time we ever got to really dive deep into the gameplay of STRAY and what it’s about.
After watching the gameplay trailer there is really one takeaway that someone can have: the cat the player will take control of is adorable and must be protected at all costs. This cat needs our help to get through a perilous adventure in a dangerous city where it will meet many robot citizens. Some of them may help the cat, others not so much, but the cat will have a drone companion around for the ride to help translate conversations. It will also assist the cat in combat with slug monsters that are going to attempt to hurt it, and in this household, we protect the cat.
While some parts of this adventure sound silly, the trailer actually does an incredible job of creating a sense of anxiety throughout the entire gameplay demo. This cat really does need our help to get through this adventure, because the town itself is anything but safe. It’s painted in beautiful but terrifying neon colors and the music accompanying it creates an atmosphere that something bad could occur at any moment. Gameplay features the cat having to puzzle its way through sharp fans, jumping through toxic sewers, and safely navigating busy alleyways. It seems pretty clear this cat is in a place it shouldn’t be and that means danger.
However, while the cat is in a dangerous place, there is a sense of mystery to all of it that makes the exploration sound incredibly fun. Why is this cat here in the first place and what does it even want? Also, while the drone can translate what others are saying to the cat, will the cat be able to speak itself in any way? Typically in games with silent protagonists we, the player, are supposed to see ourselves in the character, and almost interact with it in a roleplay element. So it may be that the developers are trying to put us in the role of this cat. They want us to feel as scared as a stray cat would.
It’s early, and we won’t get to play STRAY until 2022, but early signs point to an adventure that could be incredibly gripping. This is a game that might emotionally break people if the anxiety in the trailer carries over into the game itself. It also could be one of the best video game experiences of 2022. Utilizing the emotions that people feel towards animals in an adventure like this is going to get the kind of emotional reaction that only video games can create.
STRAY makes all of us want to protect this cat at all times. That feeling is going to be the driving force of this game and it’s going to be what pushes a lot of players forward. However, that won’t be enough for everyone, there needs to be a story about why this cat is here in the first place. Hopefully future details tell us why it is we’re a stray cat in a strange city, but for now we’ll just continue hoping that it’s going to be okay by the end of the adventure.