A cat prepares to jump between two pipes in Stray.

Screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

Stray, a post-apocalyptic journey recreation a few cat, is usually glorious. Two of us at Kotaku lately powered via its puzzles, devouring its dense, mysteriously post-apocalyptic environments and usually having fun with residing out the power-fantasy of role-playing a cat. Then we hit the credit. Clearly, we needed to discuss.


Ari Notis: John, we’ve each completed Stray. Inform me: Did the ending land for you? Or did it…stray from what made the remainder of the sport so nice?

John Walker: I knew we had been however a whisker away from a pun. No, I’d say my expertise of Stray was a straight diagonal line, beginning excessive, after which getting decrease and decrease till its completely horrible ending.

Ari: I’m not fairly the identical—extra of a very excessive plateau that fell precipitously off a cliff on the finish—however I completely agree, that ending is terrible. I truly needed to warn folks IRL: It’s so freakin’ unhappy!

John: And but, I’ve had so many individuals so furiously inform me off for suggesting the ending completely forgets THE ENTIRE REASON I WAS PLAYING THE GAME. However I do suppose lots of that is an unwillingness to confess that the gorgeous cat sim had already lengthy develop into one more grey third-person robotic recreation, so defenses versus actuality are already very excessive.

Spoilers comply with for Stray.

A yellow banner prevents readers from accidentally seeing spoilers about Stray's ending.

Ari: Ah, yeah, that weblog kinda rubbed some folks’s fur backwards, didn’t it? However yeah, the entire purpose to play Stray is fairly simple: You wish to reunite the cat together with his associates. And also you undergo all this adventuring—together with these robotic shooty sections, whose deserves we disagree on however in a manner that I completely respect your opinion for—solely to not even get an inkling that he sees his associates once more. It’s a really odd ending for a recreation that’s in any other case so preoccupied with hope.

John: They’re not even simply associates, are they? They’re siblings who love one another. They’re an deserted litter of kittens, survivors of an apocalypse, after which considered one of their quantity falls. That units up a recreation that’s, in fact, uniquely centered on returning to your brothers and sisters. And as an alternative it’s like they only completely forgot. They tangled themselves up in some fully meaningless ignoble sacrifice.

B-12 speaks while hovering over a computer in Stray.

Screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

Ari: Yep! For a recreation a few cat, it obtained too caught up within the drama round a human. Do you purchase that B-12 is de facto the final residing human? And extra importantly, did you purchase that he’d immediately flip tail (sorry, sorry, I can’t assist it) and resolve, within the span of some minutes, that each one hint of humanity isn’t price persevering with?

John: Effectively, he’s a human consciousness trapped in a machine. That is one small metropolis district, so for all we all know there may be hundreds of thousands of people residing fortunately elsewhere in China, or in Sweden, or Bangladesh, or Australia. And none of this explains the rationale behind his obvious “sacrifice.” He clearly uploads his consciousness to the pc, so there’s no sacrifice anyway, however past that, what was his function? To launch a cat, a creature that has no real interest in something aside from itself, again outdoors, for what? What’s the objective? If it had been the top of humanity, as the sport needs to indicate, he did that so he may…let the cat out?

Ari: Aw, man, no manner, the cat positively has developed previous pure self-interest! (My very own cats ought to take be aware.) Within the jail scene, as an illustration, he’s escaping with Clementine, after which he’s like, “Meow, meow meow meow, meow,” which interprets, I imagine, to, “We will’t go away but. We’ve got to stage a dangerous operation and rescue my buddy B12, who’s trapped on this cage guarded by lasers and laser-shooting robots.”

John: I used to be very confused all through by whether or not I used to be supposed to purchase into the cat understanding what B-12 was saying, or as with my very own cats, simply watching the place the noise comes from, after which hoping there’s meals on the way in which. I performed it as a recreation wherein an uninterested cat by chance retains occurring to flip the proper switches, or stumble upon the proper particular person.

However all this apart, I’d have forgiven any quantity of dreadful indulgent faux-sacrifice nonsense if, on the finish, my cat had emerged into the brilliant sunshine to listen to, from simply off digicam, a shocked, “Mew?!” That’s it. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t have to see a reunion, to look at them tumble over each other. I simply wanted to realize it was about to occur.

Ari: Precisely! And I kinda get what they had been going for, leaving an open-ended finale in order to not neatly tie up the story for the viewers. But it surely simply wanted the tiniest suggestion {that a} comfortable ending may occur—which is what somewhat “meow” off-screen would’ve achieved.

John: What’s even weirder is that they DID do such a “Possibly!” ending. Besides it was concerning the bloody human! We obtained that pc mild switching on, which I can solely assume was suggesting B-12 was nonetheless alive.

Ari: So what’s that imply for the sequel? All robot-shooty elements, no cute cat stuff?

John: I clearly hope they don’t make a sequel. They’re a gifted bunch, however Stray revealed they’d completely no thought what to do with the concept they’d had. I both wish to see their subsequent recent thought, or simply concentrate on making the cat sim everybody actually wished within the first place. God, these microscopic observations they confirmed close to the beginning. And the joyful second when the cat first places on the ridiculous saddle. We needed to put considered one of our kittens in a protecting sock after she was spayed, and she or he did precisely the identical, simply collapsing like a constructing was on high of her. To see these particulars realized so neatly, it was joyful. Which makes an ending about some boring robo-bloke perhaps not having killed himself for the stupidest purpose ever one thing of a disappointment.

Ari: Poor kitty! Please inform me you have got pictures of that.

John:

A cat wearing a jacket rolls around on a carpet.

Picture: Kotaku

Ari: Awwww. However yeah, Stray completely nails the sensation of being a cat, proper right down to waltzing over a keyboard and fucking up folks’s chess video games and such. And I do suppose it carries that feeling largely via to the top. (Even the capturing segments, which glided by in a flash in my thoughts—I truly discovered myself wishing for an additional chapter or two.) However in contrast to an actual cat, the sport didn’t land on all 4 legs.

John: Earlier than we wrap up, and also you’re improper concerning the capturing sections some extra, let me let you know how the ending went down in our home: Toby, my 7-year-old, had some associates over, as I used to be ending the sport on the lounge TV. Toby had completely misplaced curiosity within the recreation as soon as it stopped being about being a cat, however wished to be there for the reunion. Because it was clear the sport was about to let me outdoors, I mentioned to him, “Toby, what do you suppose’s about to occur?” He sat up, “The kittens!” And so all of us watched for the inevitable, wonderful second… And there was simply nothing. And we checked out one another in shock. It was simply so flagrantly terrible. And Toby continued to lament this oversight for days after. And when a 7-year-old is critiquing your story construction, one thing’s improper.

 

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