“Stray: the best game of summer 2022”


Photo via Stray.game

Though “Stray” is a bizarre game, it has risen to become one of my favorite games of all time and what I believe to be the best game of summer 2022. Released July 19 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Windows PC, I bought the game as the first title for my new gaming PC, which I had received for my birthday a bit later that month. Prior to playing the game, I had mostly been ambivalent to the game. The idea was unique, playing as a cat in a cyberpunk setting certainly had its appeal, but it wasn’t a game I actively kept up with during its pre-release. Yet when my birthday came around, I decided to pick it up due to it being $40, a good deal less compared to most triple A games. The money I spent certainly didn’t go to waste.

Like said before, “Stray” puts you in the paws of a small, ginger cat that falls into a futuristic city eternally trapped in darkness and full of robots in an age where humans are long gone. Off the bat, “Stray” makes sure to show the player how oppressive the world they find themselves is; its eerie, hollow alleyways and city buildings providing a powerful yet chilling atmosphere. Playing as such a small creature makes everything seem even more massive and imposing. Throughout the game, “Stray” keeps up its strong atmosphere, whether it be the somber Slums, the serene Antvillage or the busy Midtown.

Despite the heavy atmosphere, the game provides plenty of levity, truly showing how much the developers researched the behavior of cats. The game provides plenty of moments where you can go at your own pace, even with the largely linear progression structure. You can scratch up rugs and walls, nap on pillows and even hop on tables to destroy some robots’ board games. 

Speaking of which, the developers clearly had put much attention to detail on the movement of the protagonist cat, as each movement you make feels almost perfect to how a real cat would locomote. The world is incredibly interactive, as you can jump on most things and scratch everything else. Every movement feels satisfying and each jump you make feels weighty, just like how a real cat would move and feel.

The progression is linear, but that’s not a bad thing, as the game provides many opportunities to explore. For example, the first major location you come across is the Slums. The Slums, while densely packed, have many layers; you can jump between climbing up to the rooftops or building interiors that can be entered. Side quests also fill these hub areas, giving extra content as well as badges for your cat’s vest when you complete them — a symbol for helping robots along the way. Your drone companion, B-12, also is an amnesiac. Going out to explore hidden locations may help them recover their memories, giving the full perspective of the world you find yourself in, as well as what became of humanity.

“Stray” is a wonderfully compelling game and I truly believe it to be a story best experienced personally. With its powerful atmosphere and setting, it’s a game well worth the time and money and the best game released this summer.