The cat is out of the bag – and probably all over your Twitter feed.
“Stray”, a new video game for Sony’s SONY,
PlayStation and Microsoft MSFT,
Windows allows players to explore an underground, cyberpunk city like ginger tabby trying to reunite with their family.
The $ 29.99 third-person platformer adventure and puzzle game – from French development studio BlueTwelve, and released by Annapurna Interactive – has generated a lot of hype since it was first teased during the 2020 PS5 unveiling event. (A recent trailer released on June 2 has already been viewed more than 1.7 million times on PlayStation’s YouTube account.)
And now the long-awaited “cat game” is here – and their players and cat friends are already obsessed.
Some gentle spoilers follow: The main thing in the game is that you play a lost, lost cat navigating an underground city populated by robots. The goal is to get back to the surface world, where your cat friends live. Your lost one soon joins a sentient drone named B12 (who can talk to the humanoid robots for your cat character), and you two explore the city and solve puzzles to find the way home and discover what happened to all the people along the way – at the same time as you avoid hungry monsters that will eat this cute kitty almost as much as the players do.
“Stray” was popular on Twitter both Monday and Tuesday, around the game’s launch, and drew more than 363,000 tweets late Tuesday afternoon. And perhaps the most adorable early trend featured players posting videos of their own cats being transmitted by the nameless, pawed protagonist.
BlueTwelve Studio game developers were not immediately available for comment. But they revealed in a PlayStation blog post that they made sure to make the orphan in the center of the game look and feel as much like real cats as possible. (Well, except for showing cat trumps, apparently.) And the finished product seems to resonate with real felines and their humans.
Some dogs got into it too.
The PlayStation blog post also introduced the three cats that inspired the game’s leading cats. They include an orange tabby named Murtaugh, a former lost, self, who was found under a car in Montpellier, France. He now lives with BlueTwelve Studios co-owners. And a hairless Sphynx named Oscar was the mouse of the main cat animator – who supposedly animated the cats by hand, not with a motion-capture suit – to name the subtleties of a cat’s movements when running, jumping, clawing, “boops” snoring »And climbs. Both cats were regular visitors to the development team’s studio. “Of course, having real cats under your nose throughout development was extremely helpful in many ways,” the blog post said.
Early reviews of the game have been largely positive – the Washington Post called it a “meow-sterpiece”, and Verge called it “one of the best games of the year so far.” But some critics have also said that the game does not always “land on its feet”, so to speak, and the charm can quickly disappear.
Still, much of the highest praise has been bestowed on how well the developers captured the feeling of being a cat – from the way the strays in the game stretch as they get up, rub against each other, claw at trees or nonchalantly overturn bottles as they pass by. to the fact that it is a «dedicated meow button».
That may be why “Stray” has been like a catnip for players to share on social media – the home of the cat meme. After all, there are millions of cat videos on YouTube, and searching for “cat meme” on Google yields about 198 million results. (In fact, a cat in Japan named Motimaru broke the Guinness World Record for Most Viewed Cat on YouTube in August last year with 619,586,260 views.)
There are even a growing number of YouTube videos aimed at cats (also called “cat TV”), featuring bird and squirrel footage to keep cats busy while alone at home. Maybe now cat owners can also let the “Stray” loading screen or the opening guide run for their fur children.