It’s been a while since a video game captured the interest of gamers and non-gamers alike as much as Stray. Brought to life by the developers at BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive, online communities of all kinds have been buzzing since the game’s release.
What makes Stray different to many games featuring animals?
Much like the similar success of Untitled Goose Game before it, Stray gives you the opportunity to go on a journey as another species without imposing the human experience on an animal. The protagonist you play as is a cat. Not a mutant cat or a cat with superpowers, but a regular, ginger cat navigating a post-apocalyptic world. You can scratch rugs, walk on a computer keyboard, have a cat nap, climb up all kinds of structures, and even meow whenever you want. Unlike in many games, you’re not a traditional hero on a mission to save the world, either. You’re trying to find your way home, like a real lost cat would.
What else makes Stray’s portrayal of animals special?
You might have noticed that animals in games are often anthropomorphised – speaking and thinking in ways that resemble humans. Alternatively, animals are often reduced to serving as enemies, sources of ‘resources’, and/or minor characters without their own story. Rarely if ever does a game feel like it was built with love and admiration for animals at its core, but Stray hits this mark. From movement, to behaviour, and especially personality, this little ginger cat – who is based on a real ex-stray cat called Murtaugh who is now cared for by the game’s devs – will feel familiar for anyone who has ever shared their life with a cat. Plus, the makers of the game have partnered internationally with cat rescues to help raise funds. We love it!
Encouraging empathy for animals? Now that’s the cat’s meow.
We love a game where humans can see the world (albeit a robot-led one) through the eyes of a non-human animal, and if Stray is the beginning of a trend that helps us better understand an animal’s point of view, we’re here for it.
There are loads of reasons to love Stray – here are a few:
1. Cat behaviour represented in the game is accurate.
Cats are playful animals and in Stray, you can knock items off ledges and rooftops – something those of us with companion cats have seen many times! As a stray cat, you roam freely outside and must fend for yourself. As the cat in Stray experiences first-hand, this means a higher risk of being injured, becoming ill, or being killed. You can help cats by sharing the ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’ message and encouraging desexing of companion cats to prevent unwanted litters that often end up stray.
2. Animals care deeply for loved ones.
The cat you play as in Stray begins the game living with other cats and the care between them is clear, as is the distress when they’re separated. You build relationships with other characters throughout the game and show up for them when it counts. Plus, much like a real cat, you can even brush up against the legs of new friends. Animals may not be able to express care and love in words, but we know they feel it.
3. Human behaviour has real consequences for our fellow species.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where robots live. The premise (without giving away spoilers!) is that humans have caused a huge problem – one that has turned everything upside-down and put everyone – even robots – in harm’s way. Sounds familiar, right? Making small daily changes is an easy way to lighten our footprints on the earth. VegKit has plenty of easy ways you can make your routine, daily food choices planet and animal-friendly!
4. Our thinking now impacts what happens in the future.
In Stray, humans are long gone, but their systems and thinking persist. In the game, you explore a city still holding onto relics of human beliefs and must find the truth amidst a sea of inherited thinking, passed along by robots who are simply passing on what they’ve always been told. If we can change the way we view and treat animals, we can build a better future for all animals. By Joining the Evolution you can take easy steps toward a kinder, more animal-friendly world.
5. Mods make it even easier to connect to the main character.
Did we mention that, if you play on PC, there are mods available where you can play as your own cat?! And the sweet meows as you play are sure to interest your feline friends at home.