Last week, feline fans on Xbox finally got the news they'd been waiting for: former PlayStation-exclusive Stray is coming to Xbox consoles next month! Everyone's new favourite gaming kitty made a pretty big splash on PlayStation last year - going as far as being nominated for GOTY at The Game Awards 2022 and scooping up a few indie awards at the show to boot.
Late last year, this writer sneaked over to their PS5 and played through Stray over a couple of winter nights, and let me tell you; it was a vibe. Stray isn't a perfect game, but its amazing art direction, visual style and sense of place moves Stray well beyond just 'that game with the cat in it' that folks became enamoured with. It ended up being one of our most memorable gaming experiences of 2022, so here are five reasons why you should be excited for its Xbox arrival.
1. Kitty Cat Sneaking Is Oh So Fun
Okay, look, we just spent the best part of two paragraphs claiming that Stray isn't all cat no trousers, but, still, slinking around the place as a sneaky kitty is a huge part of the appeal here. Controlling this stray boi is fun as heck, and developer BlueTwelve Studio did a great job at making it feel very natural to explore an eerie cybercity as an inquisitive cat.
The team also worked the game's unique player perspective into the platforming and puzzle sections of Stray, which meant that the act of being a cat felt more than just a novelty. They probably could have gone even further in this department, but, being a furry feline is oh-so-fun in this game, and that goes beyond simply wandering around and taking in the gorgeous scenery.
2. Stray's Underground City Delivers Sheer Atmosphere In Spades
Sometimes you hear the notion that a game's setting is as much of a character as anything that goes on within it, and this is absolutely the case with Stray. The game's mysterious walled city is rich with atmosphere and manages to feel like a heavily lived-in place, even if it's mostly devoid of life outside of some funky robots.
For large parts of the experience you don't know the true story behind the city, or what happened to its inhabitants either, so the whole place manages to feel intriguing throughout. Whether you're slinking around the rooftops trying to get your bearings and find the next mission objective, or are exploring every nook and cranny of a once-thriving marketplace down below, Stray's underground cybercity is a huge highlight of the experience.
3. AAA Visuals Packed Into A Tight Indie Adventure
One of Stray's most impressive feats is how bloody good it looks. The team has gone crazy packing tons of detail into the game's world, and it really helps sell the size & scope of the city and how much of a sneaky kitty playground it is.
However, you never feel like you're doing too much aimless wandering before moving onto the next big story beat, and the game's roughly-six-hour runtime worked a treat in our experience. Just enough time to get lost in Stray's world, but not too long that it felt padded out or anything of the sort. Stray is a good old wander around an eerily beautiful world as a cat; what more could you want?!
4. A Surprisingly Heartfelt Story About Companionship And Togetherness
Stray isn't just about wandering around as, well, a stray cat. You meet some interesting characters along the way and the game's overarching storyline combined with its deep environmental storytelling certainly leave an impact when the credits roll.
We don't want to spoil too much because this is a pretty narrative-heavy adventure, but from the moment you leave your fellow kitty crew behind and plunge into the depths of the city, you know that Stray is going to be more than capable of tugging on the heart strings. But, at least you can scratch furniture to partake in a bit of kitty escapism if needs be.
5. A Unique Indie Offering That Xbox Needs More Of
This is another one of those indies that doesn't quite feel like one in terms of scope and presentation, and Sony has gained a knack for picking these up in recent years and promoting them on PlayStation consoles. However, we're happy to see Stray move over to Xbox after a year-or-so because these sorts of titles don't always make the leap, and this one is definitely worth playing.
We've seen lots of games featuring our feline friends over the years (who can forget Blinx, eh?), but Stray feels thoroughly modern, well polished, and exactly the sort of thing Xbox fans want to see more of. Unfortunately, this indie isn't a day one Game Pass launch, but any kind of Xbox release is welcome and we're intrigued to see what Xbox fans make of Stray next month!