Stray is Probably The Best Version of the 'Can I Pet That' Meme

Video games are a fantastic way to live out incredible and unbelievable experiences. They’re an interactive way to experience having super powers, exploring alien worlds, and living in elaborate fantasy settings in an immersive way that’s completely different from movies and television. Ironically, though, sometimes fans just want to enjoy the simple things in life. One of the most important things to fans is how they can interact with animals. Whether it’s Monster Hunter Rise or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wildfans want to know if they can pet any and every adorable animal companion that NPCs might have.

One game that’ll have a very special relationship with this trend is Stray. Annapurna Interactive is known for producing unique adventure games, but Stray is deeply unique in that the players don’t control a human, but a cat. While wandering indie developer BlueTwelve Studio’s cyberpunk setting, players will have all the grace and dexterity of a cat. That’s fun in its own right, but what’s particularly funny about it is that it turns the perennial question about pet-petting on its head. Players don’t have to worry about whether or not they can pet the cat if they themselves are the cat.

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Anyone who’s been on the internet knows that the internet just loves animals. Whole sections of the internet are devoted solely to sharing adorable pictures and videos of animals, just for the sake of appreciating them. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that the internet and the video game community in particular takes it very seriously if you can or can’t pet an animal in a game. One Twitter account is devoted to cataloguing which games let players pet animals. Of course, in most games, players are humans or at least humanoid, so it remains to be seen exactly how Stray will be categorized by the internet.

It’s pretty ironic that players will be controlling a very charming stray cat but probably don’t have any means of petting said cat on their own. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope of Stray‘s main character getting any pets, though. Stray takes place in a cyberpunk city densely populated with robots that don’t seem to mind the presence of cats in their city at all. It’s entirely possible that players can meet NPCs in Stray that like cats enough to give the stray’s chin a scratch, given a prompt from the player. It’d be the opposite of what gamers tend to demand, and yet it fulfills the same purpose.

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Although the lonely stray may have a difficult journey in search of family ahead, it’s already found a family in the form of Stray‘s players. Fans have been touched by this game ever since it was revealed and players realized the cat they were following was the protagonist. Stray has only gotten cuter since that reveal. It turns out that the stray will be accompanied by a tiny flying drone called B12. If players aren’t going to get to pet the cat, they might be crossing their fingers and hoping they can pet the drone. Even if there isn’t a way to pet the cat, players ought to look forward to controlling all of the stray’s adorable actions.

Games where players play as animals are exceedingly rare. Stray stands out among PlayStation titles, not just as another Annapurna Interactive game, but as an adventure game from a cat’s perspective. It’s a strange and delightful angle from which to tell a game, especially an adventure game in which the player has to unravel a narrative as this cat. No matter how intricate a plot BlueTwelve has cooked up, though, the player will have some simple demands that have been fulfilled in a unique way. It’s one thing to want to pet the cat in a video game, but it’s another thing to be the very cat that you want to pet.

Stray releases for PC, PS4, and PS5 in October 2021.

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