Games Inbox: Is Stray really a good video game?

Stray main character cat

Stray – is it overrated? (pic: Annapurna Interactive)

The Friday letters page is appealed at the idea of Destiny 2 developers getting death threats, as one reader looks forward to A Plague Tale: Requiem.

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Cat’s meow
Since it was free, I’ve just finished playing Stray and I have to say, I struggle to see what all the fuss is about it. Yes, it looks great (although the cat animations were often a bit off, especially the face) but the game itself is very uninteresting to me. There’s very little skill involved, it’s very linear, and there’s very little story that isn’t immediately obvious. It also doesn’t make any sense since, as GC pointed out, you’re playing a cat that seems to understand everything said to it, as well as how electricity and machinery works.

I have a cat and it’s a miracle if I can get her to come when called, let alone operating a lever on a wall or carry around buckets in her mouth.

There’s no doubting that the virtual cat in the game is cute, and it’s a fun novelty to be playing as one, but the post-apocalyptic cyberpunk setting has nothing to do with anything and neither does the fact that all the people are robots. The whole thing just seems a weird collection of random ideas, none of which fit together.

You can see that in the way you go through the different levels, where it’s shooting or stealth and then those mechanics never come up again. I mean, it’s not a bad game but if I was going to do a re-review I’d struggle to give it more than a 5/10. It was okay, while I played it, in part because it was so short, but even just a few hours afterwards it’s obvious it’s left no impression whatsoever.

no guarantees
I think it’s very reasonable to be concerned about what GTA 6 is going to be like, now that so many important staff have left. Not just the head writer but the producer that is credited with making a success of the franchise in the first place.

This raises big questions about not just the quality of writing, and the amount of satire, but also whether it has the leadership to make something innovative and coherent. An open world game the size of GTA must be a nightmare to organize and Rockstar has lost a lot of talented people from GTA 5 and from Red Dead Redemption 2.

That doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to be bad but for me there’s nothing guaranteed about it anymore. I won’t be assuming it’s great before playing it and will treat it just the same as any other game in terms of reading reviews and watching footage. We’ve already seen Rockstar’s reputation slip with the GTA 3 remasters and it could well happen again.

Too good to be true?
Am I the only one that finds the way that Phil Spencer tries to present himself as this egalitarian fan of all consoles a bit unconvincing? I’m not saying he doesn’t like games but everything he says and does seems like exactly what a PR person would tell him to do, if he wanted to appear popular.

I get very suspicious whenever someone is presenting themselves and their decisions as always morally perfect. And then when we do get a peek behind the curtain we found out he was phoning Bobby Kotick to buy his company a day after say he and it were a disgrace.

He keeps talking about Japan but doesn’t invest in any Japanese developers and everything the Xbox is and does seem to be to push American games and American sensibilities. I trust him just as much as I trust any multi-millionaire business owner: not at all.

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Satirical demands
So it seems GTA 6 is going woke. Don’t get it twisted, if the rumor of a Latino female being a playable character is true, that’s great and long overdue for the series. I appreciate it’s the default argument to label male gamers a bunch of misogynists, but the fact of the matter is the majority have been playing games with female leads for many years.

I don’t ever recall gamers moaning Lara Croft was a female? Anyhow, my concern is if they shy away from satire, because to me that is what Grand Theft Auto is all about. It will be dull without it.

Given how some people just look to be offended in 2022, I’m imagining the worst case scenario for the game. Hopefully the developers can incorporate progressive elements, but not at the expense of satire. I wish them luck.

Where you left off
I haven’t bought an Xbox SerIes X yet, one thing that might sway me is the backwards compatibility as I have fond memories of some unfinished games.

Can you tell me if I would be able to play the Project Gotham Racing games on the Xbox Series X? Would I also be able to transfer the original part finished game saves from the original consoles?
PS: Good news about the next batch of Super Mario Kart 8 tracks. Especially Mario Circuit 3, that was a good one.

GC: We’ve never tried to transfer a save, so a reader will have to help you on that.

The game problem
It really is disgusting to read about death threats against developers from so-called ‘fans’, who are angry about which exotics are available in Destiny 2. Imagine threatening to kill someone over that, let alone doing it – and their family too!

It’s always defended by people saying it’s only a small minority, etc. but you’ll find in any comments section plenty of people claiming they have a point. Usually this is in the form of some kind of statement like: ‘Well, threatening to murder someone’s entire family is kind of bad but you’ve got to admit Bungie had it coming by not running their game exactly the way I wanted.

Entitlement is a real problem with gamers and this is what happens when it’s at its worst. But it’s just the thin end of the wedge, with plenty of people complaining and moaning whenever what they want isn’t free, or they’re made to wait for something, or a game they could’ve easily read a review for turns out to not be what they were expecting.

Free-to-play games and microtransactions have made this situation worse, because they changed the relationship between games and gamers from ‘Pay £40 for this game or don’t’ to ‘Pay £60 for this game and maybe it’ll be enjoyable by the time of the tenth patch and £100 of microtransactions’. However, that is absolutely no excuse to threaten to murder someone on the internet. Jeez.

Don’t read
A Plague Tale: Requiem is the cover story on this month’s Edge magazine, I keep forgetting to write in and say. I am not going to read the feature as I am getting the game day one on PlayStation 5 and don’t want to know too many spoilers. I’ve only seen a little bit of the trailer for it.

I loved the first game and platinumed it.
Andrew J.
PS: The free game on Epic Games Store is Lawn Mowing Simulator.

Worth the money
I’ve been playing the mobile version of Into The Breach: Advanced Edition via Netflix for the past week, because of the high praise the standard edition of the game receives from GC and readers.

I don’t often play strategic games, as my gaming time is limited and I quickly lose interest (and patience!) in a game when they’re too difficult or complex for my abilities. So far, Into The Breach feels like it has just the right level of difficulty on the Normal setting, with missions being difficult to overcome without my power grid taking 1 or 2 hits.

The combat mechanics are also pleasantly deep, where I’m now surveying each battlefield to understand terrain effects and how I can incorporate these into my attack plans.

I’d recommend the game to anyone on the fence about trying it, particularly anyone with a Netflix subscription. The time to complete missions really suits playing on mobile too, with them taking maybe 5 to 10 minutes each so far. They’re also very addictive, with there being a real ‘just one more mission’ hook whenever I load it up.

I almost feel guilty playing it via Netflix, as I’m essentially playing this brilliant game for free but I’m sure my continued engagement somehow results in more cash going to the developers. At least that’s what I’m telling myself…

Inbox also-rans
Sorry if you’ve been asked this before but do you know if it’s possible to play the Switch version of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation? I’m asking because it’s still available as part of the Assassin’s Creed 3 bundle.

GC: Although Ubisoft never explained themselves publicly, the Steam page, where the issue was first noticed, has been changed to say the offline elements will work after September 1. So the Switch version should be okay.

I get the feeling Nintendo is going to try and push Xenoblade Chronicles as it’s next big franchise. This week’s game seems like it’s having its Fire Emblem: Awakening moment, where it suddenly hits the big time after years of being kind of ignored.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Ishi, who asks what’s your favorite remake or remaster.

Remakes and remasters are more popular than ever at the moment, but which has been your favorite and why? Had you played the original when you first played the remake and how do you think the new version compares?

What upcoming remake or remaster are you most looking forward to and what do you hope gets announced eventually?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter,

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