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VGChatz: Stray

VGChatz: Stray - Article

by Paul Broussard , posted on 18 January 2023 / 1,146 Views

Last month, Lee and Paul kicked off a new video series where they talk about game design, news, sales, and other notable gaming-centric events while playing a recently-released title. They're back again this month, this time with an official series name: VGChatz!

In this month's episode of VGChatz, Lee and Paul play last year's purrfect feline-inspired indie hit, Stray, while discussing context sensitivity in games, publisher sales expectations, and what makes a bad (or good) quest. Check out the video below, or watch on YouTube.

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Jaicee (on 18 January 2023)

More like VGCatz!

(Will watch, just cause, tomoz or Friday, maybe comment a little here afterward, just since I also played Stray.)

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coolbeans Jaicee (on 18 January 2023)


That is specifically mentioned at least once in the vid. Won't spoil why atm though. ;)

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S.Peelman (on 19 January 2023)

This is funny because ‘chat’ is ‘cat’ in French.

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Jaicee (on 20 January 2023)


...Y'know, I think I still get credit for the pun 'cause it's way funnier when I say it. ;) Workaround logic like that also explains why I liked Stray. It's not that original a game in design terms really. It doesn't need to be though because you play as a cat. In a city populated by sentient machines. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Stray might actually be THE first proper 3D adventure game to use a non-anthropomorphic cat as the player character. Why has this never been done before?? The sheer volume of cat-related content on the social medias oughtta tell you there was pent up demand for such a game! There is a simple truth of life that I learned as a young kid:

puts on Aristocats record

Everybody wants to beee be a cat!
Eeeverybody...(except Lee)...

...okay, I'll stop singing. Anyway, the controls flow from that set-up: Jumping is prompt-based because it'd just be ridiculous to have a cat jumping around everywhere like he's Mario or something. Almost as ridiculous as a cat both knowing English and also being unable to speak it. Little things like that make the idea that your protagonist could be a real cat just persuasive enough to let you suspend your disbelief in the situation he's in and other stuff. Persuasive enough for Olivia (my kitty cat) anyway. :D Point being that context sensitivity here is done to enhance the immersiveness of the game play experience and it succeeds for me. That's what's important about design choices like context sensitivity: I don't feel like there has to be just one right way to make every game. It's about whether a game's design choices aid what specifically it's trying to do that shapes its merit to me.

Guess that's really all I had to add to the discussion. The rest of it, as I'm recalling from just finishing, was like about the sales numbers of a Dead Space-alike and Lee trying to talk Paul through certain parts of Stray. 54 minutes' worth. I don't know how to put this more nicely, but all in all, I found this podcast a little dull. While there were a few brief, much-appreciate bursts of humor to liven things up here and there, overall the listening is just too dry, and this is coming from someone known to watch Washington Week on PBS for fun. (Woo!) I felt myself wanting the podcast to be over less than halfway through. Don't want to be too harsh 'cause I doubt I could do better, but I'm also not trying to, so gotta be honest. Sorry. :(

I want this to be a constructive criticism, so just been thinking about what might make the podcast more interesting, at least to me. I used to watch PBS Game/Show religiously and the appeal of it to me was that what the host talked about that was game-related seemed to invariably tie back to the real world in some way, whether it was a discussion of game themes or history or representation or art and design choices. Consequently it didn't feel purely academic. In the hopes of being constructive, I'd just put that thought out there.

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coolbeans Jaicee (on 22 January 2023)

Appreciate you taking the time. I'd like to fit in your paragraph on Stray's design for the next VGChatz too. Perhaps make it a user comment segment.

-"I don't know how to put this more nicely, but all in all, I found this podcast a little dull. "

I appreciate the honesty. It definitely felt odd just how delayed my video feed was here compared to Calisto vid. And we've heard similar critiques, so I'm taken some notes for improvements with respect to structure, audio, so on.

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Jaicee coolbeans (on 22 January 2023)

Flattery will get you everywhere. Sure, you may quote me. :D

And hey, I know that putting those types of live feed videos together must be tough, no worries! Looking forward to checking the next one out!

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coolbeans (on 18 January 2023)

Gotta admit that was another high-IQ discussion. Just fantastic from those two chaps.

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