I waited a long time before I started playing Stray post buying it. I had seen the screenshots and decided that it deserved to be played on the largest and best screen I had. So, I waited until I could get my hands on a cable that could connect my PC to the TV. I mean just look at that in game screenshot. You would be hard pressed to tell if it was captured in real time or a piece of concept art.
While there was no doubt as to how good the game looked before it was released, we had to wait a long time to understand how it would actually feel. I am no cat lover but it's clear the developers were. My apartment complex in India was home to many stray cats. While I mostly found them an annoyance, their presence also meant I noticed how special the cats are in the way they move and react to everything around them.
The attention to details in the game world is phenomenal. The way the humanoid robots stumble or lose balance when the cat comes in between their feet. The way the cat jumps back when alarmed by something. Since real world cat movement is so fluid and dynamic the system the developers chose to adopt, where you can only jump to another point if the game world prompts you, is a smart choice. You won't get the free running of something like Assassin's Creed but considering this is a small developer they went with something that works for them.
I won't say much about the game play of Stray. Its main purpose is really to drive the story forward and enhance the feeling of exploration. So, it is a mix of simple platforming and some smaller sequences that can cause you to lose your life. They are usually quite simple but a few of them can be slightly frustrating because of the placement of checkpoints.
All this is, however, secondary to how the game actually looks in motion. There is a level called Midtown later in the game. The first time I entered the area my jaw dropped. I haven't felt this way when playing a game for a long time. The lighting, the texture and sense of place that it evokes when it all comes together here is a phenomenal achievement for any developer let alone an indie.
A special mention must go to the publisher Annapurna Interactive who have published some of the most incredible indie titles of the last decade. Stray is a short 6 - 8 hours experience that is sweet and memorable in a way that I rarely ever feel about games these days. A must try.