‘Stray’ – the video game where you play as a cat – breaks the internet

The cat is out of the bag — and probably all over your Twitter feed.

“Stray”, a new video game for Sony’s SONY,
PlayStation and Microsoft MSFT,
Windows allows players to explore an underground, cyberpunk city as Ginger Tabby tries to return to his family.

The $29.99 third-person platform adventure and puzzle game — from French development studio BlueTwelve and published by Annapurna Interactive — has drawn a lot of hype since it was first teased at the PS5 reveal event in 2020. (A newer trailer showing was released on June 2, it has already been viewed more than 1.7 million times on the PlayStation YouTube account.)

And now the long-awaited “cat game” is here — and players and their feline friends are already obsessed.

Some mild spoilers follow: The core of the game is that you play a lost, stray cat who navigates an underground city populated by robots. The goal is to get back to the surface world, where your feline friends live. Your stray soon teams up with a sentient drone called B12 (which can talk to the humanoid robots for your cat character), and the two of you explore the city solving puzzles to find your way home, discovering what happened to all the humans. happened along the way – while also avoiding hungry monsters that are eager to eat this cute cat almost as much as the players.

“Stray” was trending on Twitter on both Monday and Tuesday, around the game’s launch, with more than 363,000 tweets by the end of Tuesday afternoon. And perhaps the most adorable early trend was for gamers posting videos of their own cats getting fixated by the unnamed paw-pawed protagonist.

The game developers at BlueTwelve Studio were not immediately available for comment. But they revealed in a PlayStation blog post that they made sure the mid-game strays look and feel like real cats as much as possible. (Well, except for showing cat butts, apparently.) And the final product seems to resonate with real cats and their humans.

Some dogs also started to get used to it.

The PlayStation blog post also introduced the three cats that inspired the game’s lead cat. They include an orange tabby named Murtaugh, a former stray dog, himself, who was found under a car in Montpellier, France. He now lives with the co-owners of BlueTwelve Studio. And a hairless Sphynx named Oscar was the main cat animator’s muse — who allegedly animated the cats by hand, not with a motion-capture suit — to capture the subtleties of a cat’s movements when it runs, jumps. , scratches, “boops the snoot” and climbs. Both cats were regular visitors to the development team’s studio. “Having real cats right under our noses throughout development was, of course, extremely helpful in many ways,” the blog post reads.

Real-life rescue cat Murtaugh inspired “Stray’s” feline line.

BlueTwelve Studio

Initial reviews of the game were mostly positive – the Washington Post called it a “meow starpiece” and The Verge called it “one of the best games of the year so far.” But some critics have also said that the game doesn’t always “fall on its feet,” so to speak, and its charm can wear off quickly.

Still, there’s a lot of praise for how good the developers feel at being a cat – from the way the in-game strays stretch out when they stand up, rub against each other, scratch trees or casually knock over bottles as they walk past, to the fact that there is a “special meow button”.

That may be why “Stray” has been like catnip for gamers to share on social media – the home of the cat meme. After all, there are millions of cat videos on YouTube and a Google search for “cat meme” returns about 198 million results. (In fact, a cat in Japan named Motimaru broke the Guinness World Record for most viewed cat on YouTube last August with 619,586,260 views.)

There’s even a growing number of YouTube videos focused on cats (aka “cat TV”), featuring footage of birds and squirrels to keep cats entertained while they’re home alone. Perhaps now cat owners can also exit the “Lost” loading screen or access the gameplay tutorial for their fur babies.