When I first started hearing of the indie smash hit Stray in 2020, I knew it would be among the smaller titles to catch the eyes of mainstream audiences, similarly to Cuphead. Most everyone loves four-legged felines- at least the internet does. Quirky cat photos coupled with the good ol’ Impact font are synonymous with mid-2000s internet culture, and you’d be hard-pressed to scroll through Facebook today without seeing at least one video or meme featuring a cat. When you base your game entirely around a cat and a cat exploring a dystopian world, the internet will blow up over it regardless of anything else.
And blow up it has. Publisher Annapurna Games reported that Stray had over 60,000 concurrent players on PC alone on its release. The only games in which Steam players were more active on release day (July 19th) were the absolute top dogs of modern AAA gaming, such as Grand Theft Auto. As mentioned earlier, it’s no surprise that a game with this subject matter exploded, but it’s also surreal to look back and see that people were playing it almost as much as something from Rockstar.
The game’s indie label and relatively short length (most cite the campaign as being about five hours) have not held it back from receiving critical acclaim either. It’s currently curled up to a cozy 84 on Metacritic and has “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam.
…and as one might expect, there’s already a plethora of outrageous mods for PC players to tinker with. Want to experience this short-but-sweet adventure as the world’s most famous fictional cat? Of course you do. If you have a truly morbid sense of humor...you’re also welcome to be CJ from GTA. There’s even a mod that lets you exchange the fur for some purple scales. (The Reignited model of Spyro was a match made in heaven)
Stray is currently out on PS4/PS5 as well as PC for $29.99. A retail physical release for the Playstation 5 port will be arriving on September 20th for ten dollars more at participating stores.