‘Stray’ review: A cute and content cyberpunk adventure game

DDespite featuring a cat, there are no additional fluff in Wander. The game takes place under the dome of an artificial sky, in a futuristic city populated by robots and cut off from the natural world, and mechanically it is also perfectly contained. Every detail in Wander serves a purpose, whether it’s an environmental cue nudging players down a specific path, or the ability to meow at will, which is adorable, but can also distract enemies in fight scenes.

Wander is a cyberpunk playground where players are rewarded for trusting their instincts, and it strikes a nice balance between exploration, puzzle solving, and soothing chat activities. And along the way, he manages to tell a harrowing human story without any people.

Cat people, you will love it Wander, but there are also some difficult scenes to watch. The game begins with a gang of four cats living their best lives in a lush, overgrown industrial park that has long been abandoned by people. Players are an orange tabby, leaping through huge pipes and steel beams until a slip changes everything. As his friends watch, the cat falls dozens of stories into a deep, black hole, landing in a broken heap on the concrete floor of a sewer. The cat is injured, requiring players to walk around limping and stunned for some time before regaining normal mobility. The injury scene is hard to watch and even harder to play, even for a dog like me, but it creates an instant emotional connection to the tabby that runs through the entire game.

The essence of Wander takes place in the neon-lit neighborhoods trapped under the dome and populated by anthropomorphic robots. Players explore while trying to find a way back to their friends in the sun, and eventually the cat is equipped with a cute little drone that helps it communicate with robots and hack into certain terminals. The drone, B-12, attempts to solve its own mystery – while traversing cities, players collect memories of random shiny objects, helping B-12 remember where he came from.

WanderThe world of was built for humans and bipedal robots, which makes it particularly fascinating to explore as a cat. At a foot off the ground, things like doors are useless, while things like pipes, ramps, and air conditioning units provide ideal platforms for scaling buildings and navigating the winding alleyways beneath the dome. Environmental puzzles take advantage of this cat-level perspective, inviting players to look at the world with different light-reflecting eyes.

BlueTwelve Studio

None of the puzzles in Wander are too complicated, even if many of them are intelligent. The most engaging puzzles ask players to go back and forth between multiple locations, helping or tricking various robots to get what they need, with minimal direction from the game itself. These puzzles are solved by exploring towns and talking to their inhabitants, while naturally developing lore at the same time. And Wander doesn’t stay with one mechanic for too long, presenting new enemies and new situations to solve with each environment.

The way forward in Wander is usually obvious, with yellow paint marking jumpable platforms and large neon arrows often pointing the way. These navigation elements aren’t exactly subtle, but they blend in with the richness of the city, only standing out when they’re really needed. It advances in Wander feel completely natural – with the environment constantly directing players on the right path, the next jump is usually the right one, and it keeps the pacing going well overall.

About Johanna Gooding

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