Real Cats Also Love Stray, The Cyberpunk Cat Game

An orange cat watches a human play Stray, a game about an orange cat.

Photo: Kotaku

You probably already know that humans love Wander, informally known as “cat game”, a lot. The most pressing question is: how do cats feel about this? Although it’s only been out for a few hours, preliminary evidence so far suggests they’re very happy with it.

Wander, published by Annapurna Interactive and released on PlayStation and PC, is the first game from BlueTwelve, a French studio. You play as a cat and navigate an abandoned city flooded with neon under a permanent night sky. There are no humans, the city populated instead by a fleet of robots called Companions. You are accompanied by a robot named B12, a nod to the creators of the game, who can chat with these Companions. Most of the quote-unquote gameplay involves standard platforming – running, jumping, climbing – combined with environmental puzzles.

Notice for Wander were largely positive, with praise for its intoxicating, soulful vibes and ridiculously detailed world. All the cats seem to like it too. During the last day, the players have job social media videos of their cats watching Wander on the screen. some kitties try to jump on the media console, a piece of furniture they are obviously not supposed to be on. Others, unaware of their limits, try to climb the wall a TV is mounted on it. A handful is colderwatch the game unfold with the same equal attention you or I were exhibiting when we were sitting down for, I don’t know, a Wes Anderson movie.

There is even a Twitter account entirely dedicated to capture this trend: the aptly named @CatsWatchingStray. It’s full of photos and brief video clips showing animals 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 that the IRL chat mirrors the on-screen chat:

This one, with a cat that cleans itself in WanderThe cat also takes a bath in the background, belongs to MoMA:

Some clips, mostly posted by people who were granted pre-release access, have already racked up tens of thousands of views. For example, here Fanbyteof Elise Favis, whose cat, a ginger tabby named Totoro, likes to fiddle with the screen:

In Wanderyou can meow on command with just the press of a button. GameSpotTamoor Hussain shared a two-minute video of his cat being downright bewitched by Wanderit’s meow:

Do shiba inu puppies count? I say yes:

During the game Wander last week, one of my cats, a orange tabby / small tank named Kvothewas also overwhelmed by the game. (Refer to the photo at the top of this article.) WanderThe ultimate range of remains a variable. It’s unclear yet whether this week’s buzz is a flash in the pan among hip social media — seeing how “the cat gets lost in cyberpunk town” is scientifically calibrated catnip for the extremely online — or if it’s indicative of a potential leap to a wider audience. Sales are further subject to a huge variable: Wander, after all, is the first day one launch title of Sony’s revamped PS Plus service. Who knows what impact this will have on sales?

Either way, the game has already conquered the one constituency it needs: the cats of the world.

About Johanna Gooding

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