Stray, the new adventure game by Annapurna Interactive and Blue Twelve Studio, lets you step into the paws of a cat lost in a walled city. With the help of your drone friend B12, you have to find your way to the surface once more, toughing it out through a world filled with AI robots, flesh-slurping Zurks, and a threatening mega-corporation. It¡¯s a world devoid of life¡ªeven the plants have been engineered to live without sunlight¡ªbut that doesn¡¯t mean the game is without hope. Along your journey through the many levels of this strange new world, you¡¯ll find friends, memories, and rare moments to appreciate art and beauty.
Don¡¯t let the fact that you¡¯re a cat fool you¡ªStray can be tricky and, at times, dangerous. While Stray only has a one-size-fits-all difficulty level, have no fear. We¡¯re here to help you navigate the city and its dangers on EZ Mode.
Just Be a Cat
This tip is two-pronged: fun and function. Let¡¯s focus on the fun first, because at its heart, the best part of Stray is the fact that you get to play as an adorable orange tabby cat (unless you used the mod that lets you change the cat¡¯s coat). The game lets you meow on command, jump onto most structures, scratch surfaces, make bread, rub against legs¡ªpretty much anything you¡¯d want to do playing as a cat, you can do in Stray. The game does a truly remarkable job bringing the experience of being a cat to life; you¡¯ll even fall over after B12 puts a backpack on you, and walk a little funny after. It¡¯s worth doing all of these things, even when the plot doesn¡¯t require it, because doing so can earn you trophies, and it lets you get the full Stray experience.
Also, there are several comfy spots throughout the map where you can curl up and take a nap, which lasts until you decide to wake up. At first, you may think to yourself, ¡°Why would I want to take a nap? I want to go explore the world as a cat!¡± and to be honest, that¡¯s understandable. But here¡¯s why taking a nap is worth it: if you nap for an hour in-game, you get a trophy. Also, napping spots tend to be in safe areas, so it¡¯s a helpful way to take a quick bathroom or snack break without needing to pause the game. Also, it¡¯s cute. So be sure to get your catnaps in when you can!
Now for function. Each of those cattish abilities has a purpose; unsurprisingly, all of Stray¡¯s gameplay is built around its protagonist being a cat, so it¡¯s important to think like a cat to make it through the game¡¯s many challenges. Bouncer won¡¯t let you in a nightclub? Look for an open window around the back you can sneak into instead. Need to hide from a roving Sentinel? Jump into a box. Likewise, if you¡¯re having trouble reaching something up high on a wall, check for a blanket or towel you can scratch¡ªthe force of your movement will pull the towel, and the object you¡¯re trying to get, crashing to the floor.
The one exception to thinking like a cat is being social. It¡¯s important to meet and talk to every robot you come across in Stray. (Pro tip: if you rub against their legs, most of their screen-faces will display a heart.) Talking to NPCs can help you get valuable intel on the part of the city that you¡¯re in, or give you a much-needed hint on what you need to do for a next quest. Plus, sometimes they¡¯ll give you opportunities that seem like side quests at the time but turn out to be necessary later on in the chapter. Trust me, there¡¯s nothing more satisfying than learning you need to buy an electric cable so Grandma can make a poncho so you can give it to Elliott so he can fix your tracker, only to find you¡¯ve already done it! Talking to these characters can pay off big time.
Sneaky Cat, Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge
While a lot of Stray is centered on exploring and just being a cat, like any good feline, you¡¯ll probably find yourself in more than a few dangerous situations; between the carnivorous mutated Zurks and the brutal Sentinel robots, the city in Stray is not always a welcoming place. If possible¡ªand it usually is, with few exceptions¡ªmost conflict in Stray should be avoided by making full use of your stealthy cat skills.
Zurks primarily attack in hordes, and they¡¯ll be activated by your mere presence. When attempting to outrun them, it¡¯s crucial not to run in a straight line. Zurks attack by jumping at you, attaching to your back to suck out your insides. By swerving while you run, you create an unpredictable trajectory, making it much harder for one of the annoying mutations to land on you. Also, despite how they attack, Zurks can¡¯t seem to jump on top of crates, AC units, or anything else you can pounce on, so if you take the high ground, chances are good they won¡¯t be able to follow. (Be warned, though¡ªa few times, they¡¯ll manage to form a living ramp wall a la World War Z in order to make it atop the crate as well.) Zurks are also not particularly bright, so it¡¯s possible to meow to attract their attention, then quickly run to the other end of the room. You¡¯ll be rolling in luxurious space, as though the Zurks were never a concern in the first place.
For a brief period of time before reaching Midtown, you¡¯ll have access to the Defluxor, a weapon created by Doc that can explode the Zurks like confetti by emitting a pulse of infrared light. However, it can only be on before overheating, so you can¡¯t race through the sewers with the trigger held down. Instead, wait until a group of Zurks are almost on you, then blast them with light just long enough for all of them to pop. Then, release the trigger so the Defluxor can recharge without breaking down. When you reach Zurk egg sacs (we know, gross), they¡¯ll explode and swarm you with Zurks if you get too close. Instead, shine a concentrated beam on one sac at a time. It will hatch a small, manageable number of Zurks for you to pop like balloons. If you slip up and hatch multiple sacs at once, you will be swarmed, so be prepared with an exit strategy.
Sentinels, the robotic police force of Midtown, are a different matter entirely. These drones¡ªnot unlike B12 in appearance¡ªwill patrol the places you¡¯re sneaking into, shining cones of light onto the floor. If you have a chance to go high, do so¡ªthe Sentinels don¡¯t look up for potential miscreants. It¡¯s worth scouting out each new area as you approach it so you can suss out what the Sentinel¡¯s patrol pattern is, so you can plot your run through the space. As long as you¡¯re outside that light blue light, they won¡¯t see you. When sneaking, it¡¯s helpful to hide behind objects, or jump into a nearby box until the coast is clear. If the Sentinel senses you, the light will turn yellow, then red as it locks in to eliminate you. If this happens, you just need to run away until you can find a box to hide in. Though Sentinels will swarm around the box, they won¡¯t open fire, and eventually their lights will turn blue again and they¡¯ll return to their regularly scheduled patrol.
Never forget¡ªif you¡¯re stuck on a certain level, just remember the game builds on its gameplay mechanics, and nothing is idly placed in Stray. Be sure to use every piece of the environment at your disposal to sneak past or outrun your enemies.
Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Platinumed Stray
Stray has a lot hidden in its nooks and crannies, from extra memories for B12 to tidbits about the world¡¯s lore to spare items that might come in handy. Plus, for the completionists out there, the best way to Platinum Stray is to take a bit of extra time to thoroughly explore each new area as you go about your quests. As we¡¯ve already mentioned, everything in Stray¡¯s environment has a purpose, so even if a trip down a rooftop alleyway seems like a stray errand, don¡¯t turn around. There could be something valuable waiting where you least expect it.
Oh also, just a heads up¡ªif you get a bag stuck on your head, you¡¯ll earn the Curiosity Killed the Cat trophy, but your controls will be inverted until you shake it off. Equal parts annoying and amusing, but totally worth it.
Meow, meow, purr! Here¡¯s a bonus tip for the road: make sure you have tissues with you as you play through Stray, if only because seeing a kitty limping through the sewers after getting lost from his friends is enough to break even the coldest heart. If you take all of these tips to heart, you¡¯ll be feline-fine as you play through Stray on EZ mode.