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 lets players explore an underground cyberpunk city as Ginger Tabby trying to make her way back to her family.
The $29.99 third-person platform adventure and puzzler – from French development studio BlueTwelve and published by Annapurna Interactive – has generated a lot of hype since it was first teased during the 2020 PS5 reveal event. (A more 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 players and their feline friends are already obsessed with it.
Some mild spoilers follow: The core of the game is that you play a lost, stray cat navigating an underground city populated by robots. The goal is to return to the surface world where your feline friends live. Your stray soon allies with a sentient drone named B12 (which can talk to the humanoid robots for your cat character), and the two of you explore the town and solve puzzles to find your way home and find out what’s happening to all the humans is on the way – while avoiding hungry monsters who want to eat this cute kitty almost as badly as the players.
“Stray” trended on Twitter both Monday and Tuesday around the game’s launch, attracting more than 363,000 tweets as of late Tuesday afternoon. And perhaps the most adorable early trend was players posting videos of their own cats being paw-banned by the unnamed protagonist.
The game developers at BlueTwelve Studio were not immediately available for comment. But they revealed in a PlayStation blog post that they made sure that the stray at the center of the game looks and feels like real cats as possible. (Well, except apparently showing cat assholes.) And the finished product seems to resonate with both real cats and their humans.
Some dogs came in too.
That PlayStation blog post also introduced the three cats that inspired the game’s lead cat. They include an orange tabby named Murtaugh, himself a former stray who was found under a car in Montpellier, France. He now lives with the co-owners of BlueTwelve Studio. And a hairless Sphynx named Oscar was the muse of the lead cat animator — who reportedly animated the cats by hand, not with a motion capture suit — to capture the intricacies of a cat’s movements as it runs, jumps, claws, ” oops”. the snoot” and climbs. Both cats were regular visitors to the development team’s studio. “Of course, having real cats under our noses throughout development was extremely helpful in many ways,” the blog post reads.
Early reviews of the game were largely positive – the Washington Post called it a “meow-sterpiece”, and the edge called it “One of the best games of the year so far.” But some critics have also said that the game doesn’t always work “land on your feet” so to speak, and its charm can quickly wear off.
Still, a lot of praise has been given for how well the developers have captured the feeling of being a cat – from the way the strays in the game stretch when they stand up, rub against each other, scratch trees or casually knock over bottles they pass, to the fact that there is a “dedicated meow button”.
That’s perhaps why “Stray” was like catnip for gamers to share on social media — the home of the cat meme. After all, there are millions of cat videos on YouTube, and searching “cat meme” on Google yields about 198 million results. (Actually a cat in Japan named Motimaru broke the Guinness World Record for the most viewed cat on YouTube last August with 619,586,260 views.)
There is even a growing number of YouTube videos targeted at cats (aka “Cat TV”) with footage of birds and squirrels to keep cats busy while they’re home alone. Perhaps cat owners can also now run the “Stray” loading screen or opening gameplay tutorial for their fur babies.