The Short Answer
No, Stray is not primarily a free roam open world game. It is a linear, story-driven adventure game with some semi-open areas that allow more exploration.
What Type of Game is Stray?
Stray is a 3D third-person adventure game developed by BlueTwelve Studio and published by Annapurna Interactive. You play as an injured orange tabby cat who must navigate through a mysterious, long-abandoned cybercity to solve an ancient mystery and find your way home.
The game features story-driven linear chapters focused on puzzle solving and plotting your way through the mysteries of this lonely city. But there are also open sandbox-style chapters sprinkled throughout that give you more freedom to explore the city at your own pace.
So while not a true open world free roam game, Stray does offer a nice mix of linear narrative progression and open exploration when it fits the story and environments.
Key Game Features
- Story-driven linear chapters
- Puzzles and obstacles to overcome
- Open sandbox chapters to explore
- Detailed cyberpunk city environments
- No combat, played from cat‘s perspective
- Hacking mechanics using feline movements
- Companion robot character unlocks new areas
How Linear vs Open is Stray?
To estimate just how linear vs open Stray‘s gameplay is, let‘s break it down by chapter:
Linear Story-Focused Chapters:
- Introduction / The Slums – Escape the sewers
- Dead End – Escape the prison
- Midtown – Traverse the bustling mid-level streets
- The Gutter – Escape the waterways
- Antvillage – Pass through the robot settlement
- Sewers – Final areas escaping the city
More Open Exploration Chapters:
- The Slums – First real exploration opportunity
- Rooftops – Open jumping challenges
So roughly 75% of Stray is focused on story progression through linear chapters, while 25% offers more sandbox-style open environments to explore.
Is There a Map in Stray?
Stray does not contain a map of any kind. The developers intentionally left out a map since the gameplay requires you to rely on your feline senses, much like a real lost cat would.
Having no map or compass does occasionally make it tricky to navigate the more open areas. You need to rely on landmarks and your memory of paths taken. But not having a map adds to the immersion and sense of exploration as a stray cat.
The City Itself is a Main Character
While not a full open world game, the city environments themselves are incredibly integral to the experience of playing Stray. The decaying cyberpunk cityscape has loads of atmosphere and gives the game its unique personality.
Key Details Bring the City to Life
From neon lights flickering in puddles to holographic advertisements glitching ominously, the environmental details are stunning. The audio ambience paired with the visuals makes the city feel alive.
Exploring air vents, underground tunnels, cramped apartments, and across steep rooftops makes you feel constantly immersed in this lonely cybercity. The city truly feels like a character itself as you uncover more of its secrets.
Statistics on the Stray‘s Game World
Here are some key statistics on the game world that help paint the picture:
- 7000 hand-placed decals and textures to add detail
- 83,239 interactive objects placed by developers
- 467,818 total game objects including items like debris
- 1 million physics objects that can be knocked over or interacted with
- 260 meters – longest distance you can view across the city
You can really feel the love and effort put into scattered documents, graffitied walls, and environmental storytelling as you explore.
The Robot Buddy Companion
Your companion robot B-12 is an endearing highlight of Stray. This loyal hovering robot translates for you, unlocks new areas, carries items, and generally watches your back.
The bond you form makes B-12‘s eventual sacrifice for your escape all the more emotional. He feels like a true friend by the end.
- Translator device helps you talk to the robot locals
- Hacking into computer terminals to open doors
- Retrieving and delivering items for quests
- Led light to illuminate dark areas
- Grapple hook arm extends your range of exploration
B-12 adds some great gameplay mechanics and the buddy dynamic makes your journey through Stray feel less lonely.
Is Stray Scary for Kids?
For a game set in an eerie cybercity overrun by creepy robots, Stray is surprisingly accessible for kids and families. There is no combat and it focuses on small puzzles and traversing environments.
The scariest sections include:
- Being chased by zooming robot sentries
- Sneaking past haywire machines in the sewers
- Dodging moving laser barriers during a factory chapter
So some moderate sneaking around robots and obstacles at times, but nothing too graphically scary or violent. Common Sense Media recommends Stray for kids 10+ for mild peril and creepiness.
How Does the Gameplay Work?
The gameplay centers around observation, exploration and light puzzle solving from a cat perspective. Your abilities include:
- Jumping/leaping onto ledges and between gaps
- Cat sprint and wall running to cross large pits
- Knocking objects over to use as springboards or distractions
- Martial arts swipes to break objects
- Hacking terminals by mimicking certain cat motions
Watching a house cat figure out puzzles using their natural abilities provides some fun moments and humor.
For less experienced gamers, Stray also offers:
- No fail mode – Unlimited lives
- Increased time limits for chases / stealth
- Objective markers to help guide your way
- Options to reduce camera motion or increase text size
So the game can be enjoyable for a wide skill range.
How Long Does Stray Take to Beat?
According to players on HowLongToBeat.com, here is how long Stray takes to complete:
- Main Story: 5 hours (Average)
- Main + Extras: 7 hours (Average)
- Completionist Run: 9.5 hours (Average)
So most gamers are finishing the main story in 4-6 hours, with extra time tacked on if you seek out all collectibles and side areas.
While Stray is fairly linear, there are reasons you may want to replay it:
- Finding collectibles you missed the first time
- Unlocking developer commentary nodes
- Challenging yourself with faster speedrun times
- Exploring at a more leisurely pace
- Trying photo mode in your favorite areas
- Achievement hunting
New Game+ mode also lets you replay the story while keeping your unlocked hats and music.
Is Stray Just a Walking Simulator?
Some critics have called Stray an artistic but basic "walking simulator" – referring games focused on exploring a world with minimal challenges.
While light on complex gameplay, there is more going on than just walking around. Key counters to just being a walking simulator include:
- Environmental puzzles requiring observation and thought
- Platforming challenges like precise leaps and climbing
- Hacking into computer terminals
- Creative improvised movement from the cat perspective
- Companion character provides abilities like a grapple hook
- Evading robot sentries during chase scenes
The puzzles and cat abilities keep the gameplay fresh as you explore Stray‘s rich world.
While Stray is not a vast open world game, it strikes an artful balance between story progression and sandbox exploration. The decaying cyberpunk city environments are the real star – feeling fully alive and integral to your journey as a lost cat.
With accessible gameplay, loads of atmosphere, and an endearing feline protagonist, Stray stands out as a unique adventure well worth playing through at least once. The touching story and chance to see the world through a cat‘s eyes makes for a thoughtful and emotional journey that you won‘t soon forget.