‘Stray’ is a short game and absolutely nothing happens

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It’s no secret that ‘Stray’, the cyberpunk cat game, has been a hit and a surprise, especially coming from a studio (BlueTwelve Studio) that in 2017 had five employees and now, according to your LinkedIn page, has 18. It is an indie game in capital letters that has managed to conquer players with an interesting, refreshing and, of course, controversial proposal.

The game, which is far from perfect, has garnered great reviews in Steam Y metacriticbut has put on the table a debate that has been in the conversation for some time: the duration. And it is that ‘Stray’, which is currently worth 26.99 euros on Steam and 29.99 euros on the PS Store, lasts up to ten hoursa “low” figure compared to what we are used to seeing in current video games.

The question is: is that wrong?

“A long game is always better”, nobody ever said

Complete ‘Stray’ It will depend on how we take the game, how much we stop to explore, etc. As a general rule, completing the game takes between five and six hours. Rambling with the secondaries and exploring, we can take the duration up to ten hours and going to the point it is possible to beat the game in two hours. The game itself, in fact, invites us to it with an achievement.

The problem is that measuring the quality of a videogame (or, really, of any work) in temporal and economic terms is fall short. It is simplifying the game to a simple relationship of hours of play / euros invested, implying that more hours of play at a lower price is always the most desirable, and the truth is that it is not (necessarily).

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Let’s think, for example, of an MMORPG such as ‘Lost Ark’ (and I speak knowingly). It is a free game with endless hours of content. The problem is that a large part of those hours are spent doing repetitive tasks (such as daily quests), collecting materials, and repeating dungeons to upgrade gear. It’s part of the gameplay and mechanics of an MMORPG, but investing those hours does not make the game better.

Other examples, perhaps more mainstream, are the latest ‘Assassin’s Creed’. They are very long games, with stories of up to 56 hours in the case of ‘Valhalla’, but they have mechanics that urge the player to reach a certain level if they want to progress calmly. They are ways to lengthen the game artificially and not for that reason they contribute a value or quality to the title.

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The problem lies in thinking that the games should be long for no reason, because you are paying X amount of euros that should be compensated with Y hours of play. However, there are stories, like the one about ‘Stray’, that can enjoy yourself in less time. There are players who cannot dedicate hours and hours to grind dungeons in the ‘WoW’ and it may not be necessary to put a battle pass into every game to force the player to put hours into it.

There are great games that are very short, like ‘Limbo‘e’Inside‘, three and a half hours each. We can also talk aboutsuper hot‘, which lasts two and a half hours and is outrageous, or ‘Portal‘, a mythical title that lasts three hours. Not to mention ‘It Takes Two’, a Rare avis (game for two people with local multiplayer on split screen), which lasts around ten hours and took the 2021 GOTY.

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And yes, it’s true, on the other side of the coin there are works like ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’, which are about 50 hours long and each hour is enjoyed as the first. It’s not a matter of hours It is a matter of quality, care, narrative and gameplay. More hours playing does not mean more hours of quality game, or at least not in all cases.

49 short (and essential) games for people who have little time

I understand the point of “the budget for games is limited and I rent a long game more than a short one to maximize the investment”, but the relationship is not direct. You can spend your free time playing video games or you can spend your free time playing to the video game (which doesn’t have to be ‘Stray’, of course). It’s 30 euros, yes, but does it entertain? As a work, has it filled me? Did you find it interesting? Does it propose interesting and innovative things? Those are questions that cannot be left aside.

‘Stray’ is more than a game of a cat, it is a work full of details that go far beyond its duration

With ‘Stray’ (and many other games) you have to wonder if putting more hours into it would have meant more fun, a better story, better characters and better plots. ‘Stray’ could have gone a little deeper, but it makes up for the length with, for example, the perfect recreation of a cat’s behavior, to the point that it is based on a real cat, Oscar, from which the animations and movements were extracted. . The controller vibrates when it purrs, we can meow in different ways, scratch the doors… It is a believable game, full of detailsas the robots can trip over the cat.

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Quoting my colleague John Tones, they are “details from which hours of observation and understanding of felines are deduced and which are worth more than any ostentatious display of means, because it implies a devotion to detail which is where the heavy weaponry of indie games isand where Annapurna knows she has the upper hand”.

It’s more than a game of ten hours at 30 euros, and yes, it’s “short”, but in a world full of peaches of 50 hours, skins, battle passes, messenger missions and daily tasks, ‘Stray’ is a meow blow of fresh air.

It’s no secret that ‘Stray’, the cyberpunk cat game, has been a hit and a surprise, especially coming from a…

It’s no secret that ‘Stray’, the cyberpunk cat game, has been a hit and a surprise, especially coming from a…

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