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Stray review roundup: The game we need right meow

stray
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

(Update: Stray just launched and you can also read our full review of Stray).

Stray, a highly anticipated PC, PS4 and PS5 game, is almost upon us. The game has been in development since 2015, but most gamers learned about it via PlayStation’s Future of Gaming event back in 2020. The premise seemed simple, but charming: Play as a stray cat, exploring a world full of eerie, humanoid robots.

The game officially comes July 19, but the first round of reviews debuted today. So far, Stray is a hit, earning an enviable 84% on OpenCritic (opens in new tab). So far, no one has rated the game below a 5.5/10, and a few reviewers have given it perfect 10/10 scores.

Stray will be available on July 19 for PC, PS4 and PS5. It costs $30 à la carte, or you can get it as part of a PlayStation Plus (opens in new tab) subscription.

(Do note that if you've already finished Stray, then here are the games to play next.)

Here’s what some of the biggest gaming sites on the Web have had to say about the unusual feline adventure:

Eurogamer

At Eurogamer, Lottie Lynn took charge of the Stray review. While Eurogamer doesn’t give out review scores, Stray earned a coveted “Eurogamer Recommended” badge, which means that the game is generally worth a look.

The good

“When it comes to simply recreating the experience of being a cat, developer BlueTwelve Studio has done a wonderful job; playing as a cat feels unique, while also being surprisingly easy to master.”

“This freedom results in very rewarding moments when you realize a small, almost random, action you completed a while ago is now the key for progression.”

The bad

“The only, very small, hitch to your roleplaying is how you can’t customise or change the cat’s breed.”

“The environmental puzzles are quite short.”

GameSpot

Alessandro Barbosa reviewed Stray for GameSpot (opens in new tab), giving the game a 9/10 — a “Superb” on the site’s rating scale. He adored the puzzles and platforming, and didn’t find any serious flaws.

The good

“Stray, an adventure-puzzle game where you play as a cat, manages not only to delight in its presentation but also in the many ways it eschews common puzzle mechanics to focus on the abilities and limitations of its protagonist.”

“Each new area you are introduced to is immediately captivating to wander around in, and I enjoyed spending a long time picking them apart.”

The bad

“There are rare instances where you can accidentally jump away from where you initially intended, and others where coming down from a high perch can be a bit more troublesome than getting up because of how you need to rotate the camera to see a platform to jump to.”

“There are a handful of set pieces that aren't as enjoyable, however. These mostly occur in the first half of Stray's adventure, and usually involve having to circumvent groups of enemies that quickly jump and latch onto you in numbers to bring you down.”

GamesRadar+

GamesRadar+, another sister site of Tom’s Guide, had Sam Loveridge write the Stray review. She gave the game 4.5/5 stars, citing its fluid animations and unusual concept.

The good

“The cat animations in Stray are so good I think a cat made them – maybe even Ratatouille-style, to take advantage of the dev team's opposable thumbs.”

“I also love the smaller, totally optional, errands that bring you closer to some of the inhabitants, like collecting music sheets for a musician to play from, and then settling down next to them while they strum away on a petrol-can guitar.”

The bad

“Sometimes the camera can feel awkward if you're trying to scale a particularly narrow space when looking for the next spot.”

“There are times where moving through to a new area completely locks off where you've been previously, meaning any side quests left unfinished will have to remain so until after the end credits when you can jump into previous chapters.”

IGN

Tom Marks reviewed Stray for IGN, and gave the game an 8/10. He enjoyed the way that the story unfolds organically, but reserved some criticism for the occasionally unfriendly controls.

The good

“Your feline form brings a lovely and lighthearted flavor to this otherwise dark world, and there are moments all throughout that encourage you to set aside your responsibilities and simply play.”

“Stray is a delightful adventure in a dark but endearingly hopeful cyberpunk world, and that’s thanks in no small part to the fact that you are playing as an adorable cat the whole time.”

The bad

“The only difficulty associated with any of the platforming is wrestling the camera into the right position to hop to the spot you want, and you don’t exactly move with the nimbleness of a cat once you do.”

“Not all of these ideas are as successful as others – the weakest of them gives you a weapon to kill the Zurks, which quickly devolves those previously tense encounters into a pattern of killing a few and then running backwards while you recharge it over and over.”

PC Gamer

At our sister site, PC Gamer, Jon Bailes reviewed Stray, giving the game an 82/100 score. Like many other reviewers, Bailes loved the game’s unconventional premise and fleshed-out setting.

The good

“The overall result is a slick, satisfying loop of pause, look, leap that sustains the feline illusion.”

“Causing minor chaos seems like a side effect of natural curiosity, traversing a world that isn't built for your instincts. You aren't clumsily smashing the place up, you're expressing yourself, strongly encouraged by the game design.”

The bad

“There are points when Stray abuses its control by refusing to let you jump on barrels and boxes merely because they aren't part of the essential path.”

“To a degree, this simplicity is a weakness, in that it feels as if there's room for Stray to stretch its systems and your skills a bit more, adding urgency to sequences of jumps, perhaps, or extra complexity to its puzzles.”

Next: Microsoft Rewards and PlayStation Stars could wind up playing you.

Marshall Honorof
Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.