You probably already know that humans like Stray, informally known as “the cat game,” very much. The more pressing matter is this: How do cats feel about it? Though it’s only been out for a matter of hours, purrliminary evidence so far suggests they’re quite taken with it.
Stray, published by Annapurna Interactive and out meow for PlayStation and PC, is the debut game from BlueTwelve, a French studio. You play as a cat, and navigate a derelict city drenched in neon under a permanent night sky. There are no humans, the city populated instead by a fleet of robots called Companions. You’re accompanied by a robot named B12, a nod to the game’s creators, who can chat with these Companions. Most of the quote-unquote gameplay involves standard platforming—running, jumping, climbing—combined with environmental puzzles.
Reviews for Stray have been largely positive, with praise for its heady, melancholic vibes and its ridiculously detailed world. All the cats seem to love it too. Over the past day, players have posted videos to social media of their cats watching Stray on the screen. Some kitties try to vault onto the media console, a piece of furniture they’re clearly not supposed to be on. Others, unaware of their limitations, try to scale the wall a TV is mounted on. A handful have more chill, watching the game play out with the same even-keeled attentiveness you or I would exhibit when sitting down for, I don’t know, a Wes Anderson flick.
There’s even an entire Twitter account dedicated to catpturing this trend: the aptly named @CatsWatchingStray. It’s replete with photos and brief video snippets showing pets unable to look away from the game on screen. My favorite image so far is an anonymous submission to the account, framed in such a way the IRL cat mirrors the on-screen cat:
This one, featuring a cat cleaning itself as Stray’s cat also takes a bath in the background, belongs in the MoMA:
Some clips, mostly posted by folks who’ve had the benefit of pre-release access, have already racked up tens of thousands of views. For instance, here’s Fanbyte’s Elise Favis, whose cat, an orange tabby named Totoro, likes to paw at the screen:
In Stray, you can meow on command with the push of a button. GameSpot’s Tamoor Hussain shared a two-minute video of his cat downright bewitched by Stray’s mews:
Do shiba inu pups count? I say yes:
While playing Stray last week, one of my cats, an orange tabby/tiny tank named Kvothe, was similarly transfixed by the game. (Refer to the pic at the top of this post.) Stray’s ultimate reach remains a variable. It’s unclear yet if this week’s buzz is a flash in the pan among the plugged-in social media set—seeing as “cat gets lost in cyberpunk city” is scientifically calibrated catnip for the Extremely Online—or if it’s indicative of a potential jump to a broader audience. Sales are further subject to a huge variable: Stray, after all, is the first day-one launch title on Sony’s revamped PS Plus service. Who knows what impact that’ll have on sales?
But no matter what, the game has already won over the only constituency it needs to: the cats of the world.