Stray has become the cult hit of the summer 2022 gaming season. You play as a curious cat in a cyberpunk world, leaping from platform to platform and teasing out an atmospheric story. Stray won over gamers with its creative concept and chill vibes. But after about six hours, the whole experience is done, and there’s not much reason to replay it.
Luckily, Stray isn’t the only easygoing animal game out there. If you want to experience environmental storytelling, explore an off-kilter world or simply spend some more time pretending to be a cat, we’ve collected a handful offbeat titles that draw inspiration from our furry, finned and feathered friends. Here are 10 games to play after Stray.
Cat Quest is one of those games that’s exactly what it sounds like. You play as a “catventurer” in the fantasy realm of Felinguard, wielding a sword and a collection of magic spells, including “Lightnyan” and “Flamepurr.” While Cat Quest is a small game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is, indeed, an ope-world RPG, letting you explore colorful towns, gather powerful equipment and complete a variety of side quests. Like Stray, you can wrap up Cat Quest in five to 10 hours, and there’s not a ton of replay value. But you can always jump into Cat Quest 2, which is the same basic premise, executed on a slightly larger scale.
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco the Dolphin came out for the Sega Genesis way back in 1992. But thanks to digital re-releases, the game is pretty easy to play on modern systems. Ever since its debut, Ecco has been a cult classic, thanks to its unusual premise, demanding gameplay and bizarre story. You take control of a playful dolphin named Ecco as he swims, jumps and occasionally surfaces for air. Early on, you’ll explore colorful bays and seas, fighting off jellyfish and pufferfish. But as the game progresses, the plot takes a hard left turn into ancient Atlantis, time travel and Lovecraftian horror. Ecco the Dolphin is much tougher than Stray, but you’ll still play as a charismatic animal on a strange quest.
Goat Simulator is one of those games that’s simultaneously extremely easy and extremely difficult to explain. On the one hand, just read the title. Goat Simulator is a game where you play as a goat, and you simulate things that a goat might do — running around, baa-ing, headbutting things and so forth. On the other hand, the title doesn’t convey just how strange the game gets. You can latch onto a racecar with your tongue, blow up gas stations for a “Michael Bay” achievement or establish yourself as an evil overlord on a throne of skulls. Whether you love the game or hate it, you’ve probably never played anything quite like it.
Journey is probably the biggest stretch on this list, since it’s the only game where you don’t play as an animal. Instead, Journey casts you as a kind of shapeless humanoid figure in a red cowl called the Traveler. Like Stray, the game relies on wordless storytelling and mild platforming challenges to propel you across a series of intriguing environments. The big difference is in scale. The world of Journey is positively huge, from the distances you’ll traverse to the creatures you’ll encounter. The game is more about atmosphere than narrative, but if you like abstract storytelling, there are still a few emotional beats to latch onto.
If playing as a cat is a little too laid-back for your tastes, you could always try playing as a shark instead. Developer Tripwire Interactive called Maneater a “sharkPG,” and that sums up just about everything you need to know about it. You play as a bloodthirsty bull shark, who’s out for revenge against a cabal of fishermen who killed her mother. You’ll start off in brackish waters, chomping down on catfish and fighting off barracudas. But eventually, you can turn yourself into a bioengineered killing machine, facing off against great white sharks, sperm whales and other apex predators. The game is much sillier than Stray, but also much more action-packed.
Night in the Woods
Like Stray, Night in the Woods casts you as a cat in a mostly nonviolent, linear adventure. However, if Stray is an experimental art film, Night in the Woods is a hipster indie movie. You play as Mae, a college dropout who returns to her hometown and attempts to discover the truth behind a mysterious kidnapping. While Mae and her friends are all anthropomorphic animals, the story is much more down-to-earth than the art style might suggest. Night in the Woods is all about growing up, building relationships and coming home again — although there’s also some decidedly sinister stuff going on, which helps give the story some stakes.
In Stray, you play as a cat; in Okami, you play as a wolf. I think that makes Okami quite a bit cooler by default. Inspired by The Legend of Zelda franchise, Okami casts you as Amaterasu: a Shinto goddess who adopts the aspect of a white wolf to seal away a demon called Orochi. Inspired by Japanese art and mythology, Okami has a striking aesthetic and a playful tone. It’s much more of a traditional video game than Stray, with plenty of enemies to fight, upgrades to collect and puzzles to solve. But with Stray behind you and Breath of the Wild 2 ahead of you, Okami is an easy recommendation to fill the gap.
Tokyo Jungle is one of those oddball PS3 exclusives that developed a dedicated cult following, but never caught on with the larger gaming populace. Now, gamers have a second chance to discover the game, thanks to its inclusion in the revamped PlayStation Plus lineup. Tokyo Jungle casts you as a variety of animals in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, each one of whom must scavenge for food, evade predators and fight for supremacy against other animals. Part survival game, part sim, Tokyo Jungle is a bizarre mashup of ideas — and if you have an affinity for the bizarre, it’s worth checking out. While you don't play as a housecat in the main story, you do play as a lion.
Tunic isn’t quite as much of an animal sim as stray, since you play as an anthropomorphic fox rather than a regular old quadruped. But if you enjoyed Stray’s minimalist storytelling and “try it and see” approach to gameplay, Tunic offers some similar features. On its surface, Tunic is simply a riff on The Legend of Zelda, right down to the protagonist’s titular green garment. But Tunic is a little more inscrutable than the series that inspired it, featuring a made-up language that slowly starts to make more sense as you discover new gameplay mechanics. Tunic should appeal to Stray fans who aren’t averse to a little sword combat.
Untitled Goose Game
“It’s a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose.” Untitled Goose Game’s description is also, essentially, its instruction manual. In this sim/puzzle game, you take control of an unassuming white goose who terrorizes a quiet English town. In each area, you get a list of objectives to complete — “get the groundskeeper wet,” “steal the old man’s woolen hat,” “steal a pint glass and drop it in the canal” and so forth — and you have to accomplish them without running afoul (a-fowl?) of the townspeople. There’s also a dedicated button just for honking, much like meowing in Stray. Untitled Goose Game is anarchic and weird, but it’s oddly charming, too.