Cats are awesome. No matter your preference, whether you’re a dog, cat, rabbit, or otter person, you can’t deny that cat kind of rule the world. Since the dawn of faster broadband speeds, cats have been everywhere in memes, amusing stories, and all manner of entertainment, so it's rather surprising that no one has made a cat game sooner. I remember Stray being revealed many, many years ago as a sort of small project, but now after so many years, it’s finally out as a full game!

Is Stray worth the wait? Is everyone hyping up this game because it has a very adorable feline hero? Or could this be one of the best games of 2022?

What is Stray?

Stray is a game for any cat lover, but more importantly for those looking for a unique adventure with themes of rebirth and loneliness, set within an intriguing dystopian world. Players will embark on an epic journey where they’re in the shoes (or paws) of a stray cat looking for their way home after taking a tumble down the “Wall”. Our adorable orange feline was living their best life with fellow cats high above the ruins of the old world, until their unfortunate accident. Now they are at the bottom of the Wall, and deep within the old world which has been long forgotten since humanity was wiped. Now all that remains are the leftovers of humanity, from old cities, and overgrown forests, along with the only denizens left alive, robots and cute critters who eat anything in their path.

Our Stray cat, with the help of a friendly drone named B12, must explore the remnants of the old world, make new allies, and run for their lives from flesh-eating parasites to find their way home. But along the way, our leading feline will unravel an aging mystery and discover a new, underlying threat that might have had a major impact on humanity, and soon enough, see you as an enemy.

On this quest home, our Stray will be unknowingly a force for good, helping those robots trapped within the Wall, bringing a sense of hope, and meaning to the lives of the mechanical humanoids who have lost their sense of purpose.

And you get to do this all as a cat, and that’s freaking awesome!

Have Paws will Travel

Stray’s journey is one of sadness, hopelessness, and confinement, but much like a Frank Darabont film, these elements are overcome with the immense power of hope and perseverance (unless you watch The Mist). As a cat from the top of the wall, you’re only living out a life that most animals, be it cats, dogs, or birds, would be living after the fall of humanity. A happy one that’s nice and simple. But once that is all gone, our feline protagonist is simply following their instinct to get back home. In this cold and bleak world, they have no bargaining chip, nor do they have no attachments. Our feline’s goal is simply to get home, and they’re told how this is possible through their interactions with the robot denizens inside the Wall.

Stray’s story develops as our feline hero inevitably helps a series of robots to accomplish their goals whether it be finding a loved one or finding out how they can too escape passed the Wall. Soon enough, our cat becomes a mighty force of change and whether they’re doing it on purpose or simply going along for the ride, they’re a symbol of hope.

I liked that without the main voice or much feedback from our Stray cat, we can observe in such immerse detail the world itself and the actions of those living there. We watch, listen, and find out more on the world and how we can help, and our cat goes with it. It’s a humble, yet very nice journey we take in Stray, and one that’s paced nicely and has some interesting twists along the way.

We explore the Dead City, Slums, and the wilderness inside the wall, all of these places echoing the tragic (or maybe thankful) loss of humanity. Our robots are within a sort of slumber, where they’re awake but lack purpose and live restless lives. Then our cat comes along and while completing main or side quests, fulfills the wishes of the robot denizens and makes their lives much more fulfilling.

This is the bulk and thematic gravitas of the story and it's one that is utterly joyful and compelling. Out Stray cat’s journey home is indeed simple, but with the wholesome interactions they have in the world, it’s much more impactful.

There are some great moments of dread and tension, along with utterly insane body horror moments which really caught me off guard (don’t worry, it’s not like kitty meets “The Thing”). I did appreciate that Stray’s story ventures into the unknown and away from a simple “Homeward Bound” tale. But the centre of this journey is a cat finding their way home and helping those in need, which was very wholesome and proves cats are actually pretty good.

Unlike Dogs. Watch Stephen King’s Cujo and that’ll put you off canines.

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow

Stray does perfectly replicate (in the closest way any media has done) how felines move around, and what they do and incorporates all the funny things they do in meaningful ways. Just to be clear, this is not a magical cat, nor does this cat have guns, laser eyes, or anything like that. They’re just a cat, one with a small robot companion, but just normal cats.

With this said, Stray does indeed do a great job at making the world such a compelling one to explore. You’ll be venturing through a beautiful, dense, and cryptic world by loitering through cities streets, and allies, climbing up high via air ducts, ledges, and rooftops, and balancing yourself along treacherous makeshift. The world is immensely detailed, with plenty of routes to take, ledges to climb, and places to uncover. Giving Stray a wonderful feeling of discovery and making each encounter an epic one, as we view it from the eyes of a cat.

The movement is solid, if not a little clunky to get used to, as our cat does indeed move like a cat. You’ll be able to jump quite some distance in most cases, but for larger spaces, you’ll have to either push over planks of wood, turning them into walkways, or roll inside empty barrels making them a vital step up to a high place. There are also some light physics in Stray which means you can knock stuff over (yep, like how a cat does) to destroy blockades in your way. Whether these be pushing buckets into industrial fans or pushing paint cans from great heights to smash open windows.

And yes, you can indeed do all the things a cat does in their normal day-to-day life. Knocking stuff over, scratching sofas, carpets, and walls, but also do that nice thing cats do when they go around your legs and purr. All that stuff and much of it has meaningful gameplay elements behind them too. You’ll scratch doors to get them open, jump on and off items to knock them down (revealing items of interest) and even hide in boxes to avoid enemies. All these sweet cat things you can do indeed have meaningful gameplay mechanics behind them. And while the inputs of our cat are quite simple mechanically, it just adds up to a nice, easy-to immense yourself kind of experience.

Resulting in puzzle solving and exploration being the key gameplay elements in Stray and they’re both engaging. While the side quests are very straightforward, by finding items of interest and returning them, most are made from the limited actions a cat would have. But there are some nicely laid out secrets to discover and great set pieces in the game.

Early in the game, you’ll find B12, a friendly AI-controlled drone that helps our Stray cat along the way, in a bid to recover their memories long forgotten. B12 can carry items recovered in the world, but also communicate with the robot denizens of the world. B12 is a good addition to the quest if its main purpose is to provide some support to our feline protagonist.

You’ll be solving puzzles, ranging from simple safe cracking to more intriguing complications that involve all the cunning and graces only a cat could provide. There are collectible memories to find, which also help B12 in their own personal journey. Again, adding a nice layer to the world-building and sense of purpose to our feline’s journey home.

Psst Psst Psst Psst Psst

Much of your time spent will be in the hub world of the city, where you’ll gather important clues and items, help those around you and venture into a variety of dangerous missions, in the hopes of escaping the Wall. As mentioned, the pacing is really nice, and you could easily immerse yourself into the journey and not get bored.

Aside from the exploration and lateral elements, there are some chase sequences and moments of pure dread where the main enemy seen in the game known as Zurks (very similar to the headcrabs from Half-Life) will warm our furry feline, resulting in them running for their life. These sequences are usually a trial-and-error sort of thing, where you run, jump, and find the best paths to avoid being swarmed. I personally liked this and even with the slightly clunky controls, they were quite fun and didn’t go on longer than they needed to. There are also some stealth sections later in the game, where you must avoid spotlights, lasers, and some other dangers and these were pretty good too.

While there is no conventional combat as such, there is a level midway through where you have the means to defend yourself from the Zurk enemies with a powerful light. While this section of the game didn’t elevate much of the action gameplay, nor did it branch out to implement interesting tactics. It was still a nice change of pace, while giving a slightly tweaked raise of tension and panic.

While not doing anything exceptional or “above and beyond” in terms of mechanics, Stray does a solid job at presenting interesting problems, placing good resources to use (such as hiding in boxes), and genuinely making me feel on edge to ensure our orange feline survives” (Yep, kitty can die …. Don’t let that happen!).

I feel the main thing that hinders Stray overall is the short life span. While everything throughout the game was very good, I wished there was a little more to play. The campaign’s length will vary from player to player. But for veterans like me, this can be over in less than 5 hours, and I can’t see it lasting more than 7 if you go back to find the collectibles.

Not that the length is truly a bad thing, as the RRP reflects this and as it is an indie game made by a small studio, I can understand. I just felt sad that this amazing journey had ended so soon, and thought it more people worked on it, could it have been much bigger and bolder?
Still, those hours playing Stray were incredibly memorable and I loved every second I played. I do hope more Stray is on the way in the future.


Stray is a beautiful, humble, and incredible game. It’s a compelling and mysterious adventure game that gives a whole new perspective to players, with simple yet fun gameplay mechanics and a meaningful journey to complete. It's so much more than just a game with a cat, as it enforces the belief that the indie scene in gaming is really pushing the envelope and trying out new ideas which work phenomenally well. I do truly believe Stray is one of the best games out this year and shows that cats do truly rule the world!

++ Beautiful, and compelling world design and story elements
+ Cat gameplay is really cool!
+ Nice puzzles, exploration, and chase sections
+ Looks and sounds lovely
- Some clunky controls
- Short length made me wanting more