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Stray (Gaming)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Tuesday, August 16, 2022, 22:53 (47 days ago)

Stray's really good looking. The graphics are top notch, and the art design is super good. There's some things that aren't really original like the Zurk pretty much being headcrabs which is kinda disappointing, but it's otherwise quite captivating.

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The game is at its best when there is no language. When your actions are instinctual, or primal. I mean, you're a cat. Jumping from place to place, slipping through spaces only cats could go, it's all quite fun to do in this world. But the game gives you a robot companion named B-12 that can translate signs, as well as the language of the other robots. They speak to you and can give you complex tasks to perform, which makes no sense since… you're a cat. You solve complicated puzzles involving logic and lateral thinking. You operate complex technology and machinery. Here, the illusion of playing as the cat is completely broken.

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Later in the game you temporarily lose B-12, and must interact with a robot non verbally. This is where the game shines. You have to interpret its intent and meaning, respond to gestures, and otherwise have an experience more similar to that of a cat. The communication is two way, with you having to scratch or meow properly to make your own thoughts known.

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This should have been the entire game. All writing should be untranslatable, and no verbal communication at all. The game manages just fine when you are acting on basic impulses: explore, find water, evade enemies, go here, get attention. The basic instinct of getting back to the surface is immediately established, and could carry you through the game. Unfortunately, the story unfolds in the traditional fashion of lore gathering. But it could have been crafted to unfold without any text or language at all and been all the better. The details of the world SHOULD be largely inaccessible due to the fact that you're a cat…

Essentially, the game is quite compelling when the human elements are absent, but breaks down when the game relies on human things like language or logic to create game scenarios.

So it can be fairly interesting at times, but little attention was paid to perspective.

3/5


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