Japanese game fans and our game tester can’t get enough of sci-fi cat adventure Stray
Cat lovers in particular are thrilled by the subtle, programmed ways that bring your playable cat character to life.
Developed by the French BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactivethe new video game Wander was released on July 19 in Japan for PlayStation 4, PlayStation, and PC. Since then, it’s generated quite the buzz among online Japanese game fans, so we were curious to see what excited everyone. Its basic premise is that as a cat, you must solve puzzles and interact with the environment to escape the abandoned walled city you’ve fallen into, while dodging robots and other futuristic threats with your drone companion. This unique combination of elements certainly looks intriguing and hard to fit in one box– unlike our favorite real-world cat companion with a penchant for squeezing into small spaces.
When you first start the game, the landscape evokes a slightly mystical and otherworldly feeling. There seems to be some kind of ruins among the overgrown vegetation, and everything is very fantastic and made to take your breath away.
▼ Welcome to this magical land of cats.
▼ You have become the protagonist of the tabby cat, seen from the perspective of the third person.
With a simple tap of your controller, you can make your cat character act in incredibly feline ways, including meowing and rubbing against other non-playable characters. As you travel the world, you can even meddle in other cats’ affairs, drink water, or sharpen your claws. These little additions are not there to advance the story but for pure pleasure. Who would ever want to leave this mystical paradise of cats?
▼ The little water paw prints are an adorable touch.
It seems we spoke too soon. Suddenly, you find yourself falling into some kind of dark, damp, smelly human ruins, all alone with an injured paw. You start walking through narrow alleys filled with dirty and crumbling buildings.
▼ Those lit up letters spelling out “HELP” don’t look ominous or anything…
From this point on, you must now search for clues and items that will eventually allow you to escape to your mystical world of cats, while escaping the enemies that are out to get you. While it’s possible to pass out, even those new to the game should be able to pick themselves up and find a way forward after just a few tries. We’ll leave the gist on that so as not to share any spoilers.
For the most part, you’ll advance along a specified path, but be sure to take your time so you can explore every nook and cranny to take in the dark and degenerate but also spellbinding visuals.
An interesting development fact is that the game’s aesthetic was directly inspired by the now demolished walled city of Kowloon in British Hong Kong, which the creators saw as the perfect environment for cats to use their agility and curious nature while exploring.
▼ Ghostly buildings are no problem for felines.
More than anything, we think you’ll be thrilled with your cat character’s snappy movements. You can back away in fear, scrape the doors you want to open, and even type a line of scrambled characters on a keyboard. If you don’t touch your controller for a while, your character will automatically perform certain moves while waiting. Plus, there are bonus “achievements” with fun names that you can unlock if you meet certain conditions, like one called “Even Cats Fall From Trees.”
▼ An instruction telling you to click the button if you want to meow
Stray has quickly gained a grateful fan base in the Japanese gaming scene since its release.. Cat owners in particular will notice all sorts of little ways you see your furry baby doing in real life. Some netizens have even reported that their pet cats react to on-screen sounds and movements while playing, with comments from happy gamers on Twitter including:
“Stray was even better than I expected. The world-building is so good, with the cat, cyberpunk, and post-apocalypse elements all done really well.
“I love the realism of how the cat suddenly decides to take a nap or starts scratching its claws on the walls or the floor, even though it has nothing to do with the story.”
“The game has a relaxed pace, but the story is surprisingly deep. And the cat is cute.
“Some people think this is purely a soothing game, but be sure to read the product description. It clearly mentions that there are grotesque parts and violence too.
“I don’t know if it’s a bug or not, but every time I play my watch desk takes over my real pet cats.”
Perhaps more than anything, according to our Japanese correspondent Saya Togashi, who conducted this test, people love games made with love. It’s evident while playing that the developers saw Stray as a true labor of love. The game is full of loving detail and they weren’t willing to compromise to achieve their vision of a game they themselves would want to play. Supposedly, they also used their own cats as research models, dubbing themselves “the team with more cats than creators.”
The full game is said to take around 6-7 hours, but searching for hidden objects and parallel moves will extend the playing time. Wander has a bit of everything to please everyone. Who knows – if the game’s popularity continues, maybe one day we’ll even get a musical or stage adaptation like the recently announced one. Final Fantasy X Kabuki game.
Reference: PlayStation, Steam, Twitter
Photos © SoraNews24
Screenshots via Steam
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[ Read in Japanese ]