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"You're the only one small and quick enough to evade the Zurks. We need you, little Outsider. Bring us to the sky!"
Momo
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Stray is a Cyberpunk Adventure Game from French developer BlueTwelve Studios published by Annapurna Interactive. It was released July 19, 2022 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

The game follows a stray cat lost in a world of robots, struggling to return to their family with the aid of B-12, a small drone.

Not to be confused with the book or the fanfiction of the same name.

Previews: Teaser, Gameplay walkthrough.


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Tropes:

  • Achievement Mockery: Two such achievements.
    • Interacting with a paper bag in the Slums gets it stuck on the cat's head, scrambling your movement controls until it falls off, and awarding an achievement named "Curiosity killed the cat".
    • Dying nine times will award the achievement "No More Lives".
  • Aerith and Bob: The robots’ names can vary between regular-sounding names, both common and uncommon, real words that could conceivably be nicknames, and nonsense words. Just within the main four Outsiders, you have Momo, Doc, Zbaltazar, and Clementine. Some robots, like The Guardian, are known only by their titles, and these may be their official names.
  • After the End: Humanity is long gone, having devastated the planet's biosphere before the start of the game and later being wiped out by a plague, leaving only the robots in their place.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Despite being a feral cat born centuries after humanity's extinction, the Cat behaves more like a domesticated cat in its interactions with the robots.
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  • All for Nothing: It's implied humanity constructed the Walled Cities to ride out an ecological collapse when the Outside become unlivable. Despite the massive efforts involved in the project, humanity is long extinct in the city due to a plague.
  • The Ageless: It's mentioned that, unlike humans, robots do not age and cannot die this way (presumably because they can keep replacing parts that get worn out). The cat can talk to one robot named Ronin in the Slums who says they'll be 374 years old tomorrow.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • The cat's gender is never clarified in-game, though the dev described him as male in a vlog.
    • B-12's human gender is not clarified, only that they had a family. Since B-12 refers to the "scientist" they used to work with as "he", before remembering they were the scientist, it could be that B-12 was male as a human.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Co-protagonist B-12's memories have become corrupted during their long inactivity, and they can't remember their past, purpose, or even name. ("B-12" is just the serial number printed on their current drone shell.) Helping them reconstruct their memories and recover their history forms part of the plot.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Even if one assumes B-12 is translating everything into some sort of cat speech, the Cat is incredibly intelligent, able to understand complex plans and tasks, using found items as improvised tools, and demonstrating at least a rudimentary understanding of technology.
  • And I Must Scream: B-12 has been trapped in the city's systems for as long as they can remember, and the main character hitting a button allows the drone to be activated and release it.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Stray has opened up the City but is still not united with their family, the Outsiders are all alive, and B-12 might still be in the city's systems.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Upon finding the last of B-12's 27 total memories, the backpack-harness given to the cat changes from black to an iridescent silver.
    • Completing various sidequests and rooting around hidden places will reward you with badges that will decorate the cat's backpack.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The "Pacifist" achievement requires you to beat The Sewers without killing any Zurks via the Defluxor. Shaking them off into the water or luring them to jump into the water doesn't count against this. You also don't have to do it all in one go; reloading to the last checkpoint doesn’t void the achievement if you die or accidentally kill one with the Defluxor.
    • Several spots that must be reached by long climbing sequences have a shortcut back down, such as a bucket lift or a series of drops that are too tall for a jump.
    • The Memories window will highlight uncollected memories in your current area as grey, so you can more easily check if you haven't collected a memory. The chapter select screen also shows how many memories are in each chapter and how many you've collected.
    • Any items you can no longer use because you've moved on from their assigned chapter are automatically removed from your inventory to prevent clutter and confusion.
  • Are These Wires Important?: In the Control Room, the cat and B-12 have to disable the security locks to open the door to the outside. This entails the cat pulling wires in order to open up the systems for B-12 to hack.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display:
    • If you look up at the "sky", you'll notice the "stars" are actually rings of lights on the underside of some roof high above the city.
    • Later in the jail, you can look up and see glitchy digital displays showing a blue sky and fluffy clouds.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Cats, when they are calm, will walk with their tail up. It's only when they are distressed that they have them down. The cat, even in the first chapter, will always have his tail down. This license was taken so as not to force the player to spend much of the game staring into the cat's anus.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Walled City 99 has an incredibly inefficient design. Between the housing blocks in the Slums, the similarly sized buildings in Midtown, and the distant ceiling, at least 80% of its internal volume is empty space. Abandonded development projects like the partially finished high-rise in the Slums suggests construction of the city wasn't complete when the lockdown was ordered, but even with these taller buildings in place, most of the available space still would've been wasted. One possible explanation is that the city's layout is a particular blatant display of how messed up mankind's desire for class segregation was back when they were still around - the upper class would rather let thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people die on the surface than allow them to come anywhere near them underground.
  • Badass Adorable: Our determined, indomitable hero is a small, fuzzy, rather affectionate cat.
  • Bag of Holding: B-12 is able to "digitize" items for storage, which is how the cat can run around at full speed while carrying energy drink cans, music sheets, several books, and a full jug of cleaning detergent with no problem.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: In the Jail where Clem, B-12 and the cat get captured and locked up by the Sentinels, one section requires you to lure Sentinels into cells in order for B-12 to hack the doors and get them locked up.
  • Big Door: As becomes clear fairly quickly, the city's circular ceiling is actually a gigantic segmented door that can be retracted layer by layer. You successfully open it in the game's finale, complete with a lovingly rendered, intricate Activation Sequence (or rather, Deactivation Sequence?)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mostly due to ambiguity. The city is finally open and the stray made it back to the surface, but they're still alone, their family nowhere to be seen. They're also the only character to successfully escape. B-12 sacrificed its drone body to lift the lockdown and might still exist in the city's systems, but no confirmation is given. Clem survived her confrontation with the Sentinels and, being in Midtown, might finally get to see the Outside. The Zurk crawling around in the open were popped by the sunlight, and with Doc having discovered a way to deal with them even without the sun, the residents of the slums are better off than where they started.
  • Blatant Lies: Neco Corporation claims that the "lower levels" recycle and reuse all of Mid-Town's waste. In reality, it's just being dumped on the Slums whose residents pick through it to find anything of use.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: In the Japanese localization, Doc's safe in the library is referred to as "安全" (anzen) in Jess's note. "安全" means "safe", as in "secure", and not a "safe", as in a "vault". The correct term, "金庫" (kinko), is used for the prompt to interact with the safe (金庫を使用).
  • Bloodless Carnage: Dead City is filled with dead robots and even has the scene with a robot being Eaten Alive, but these lack even the symbolic oil you might expect. Killing Zurks is also a bloodless affair, as they simply burst into a faint spatter on the floor.
  • Book Ends:
    • A butterfly flutters in alongside the cat at both the start and end of its adventure.
    • The early cutscene of B-12 being downloaded into their drone body and the end one of them overriding the city's security and, apparently, uploading themselves into its systems show the drone being placed into a special work station, floating in it until the end of the process, and then suddenly tumbling off the table and bouncing off the floor, with the cat coming by to see what happened. Except in the second one, it's just a lifeless, burnt-out drone casing which the cat nudges a few times before laying beside it to mourn.
  • Bound and Gagged: Clem, by The Mole in the night club, in order to lure the stray into a trap. The "gagged" part is especially curious as, being a TV Head Robot, the victim has no tongue or mouth that could be blocked or forced shut to prevent articulated speech, but it still somehow works.
  • Brain Uploading: Turns out to be the reason that B-12 was trapped in the virtual network for so long in the first place. They uploaded their brain as a last-ditch effort, being too sick to survive otherwise, and then had nobody who knew about their presence around to get them into a body.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Some of the robots refer to humans as "soft ones", although it's not meant to be a derogatory term.
  • Came Back Wrong: B-12. The brain upload they originally did in an effort to save themself from death left them stuck in the system for so long that it destroyed almost all of their memories and sense of self.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: B12's memories reveal that even after destroying the environment and retreating into the Walled Cities, humanity simply recreated the same problems that divided and destroyed it outside. The wealthy dumped their trash into the Slums where the poorest lived, and when a plague began to ravage the populace those in control didn't act because they thought they were safe.
  • Cardboard Prison: The Cat is locked in a cage suspended over deep water after the Sentinels capture them and Clementine. Swinging the cage back and forth until it hits a nearby pipe is enough to knock the cage door open and free the Cat. Likely justified in that the Sentinels have never had to imprison a cat before.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played with. It is entirely possible to run into some residents around the Slums and Midtown, making them stumble and occasionally fall over. There are also quite a few times where it's necessary to get into some mischief in order to access somewhere, ranging from meowing at someone as a distraction so they drop something to outright stealing items from a store later on. That being said, the cat here is extremely helpful, rather affectionate, and outside of the residents that can be knocked down, tends to lend a helping paw to the robots' troubles rather than just going around trashing the place on a whim unless the player wants to cause that.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: While in gameplay, the cat has one life and infinite reloads, dying nine times unlocks an achievement: "No More Lives".
  • Chain of Deals: Getting the tracker fixed requires a series of trades with robots. The programmer needs a poncho to keep warm (and by extension prevent his hands from shaking); the knitter needs cables to knit the poncho; and the merchant will only trade cables for a bottle of detergent.
  • Childless Dystopia: Referenced if you have B-12 scan the mannequin in Doc's apartment in the Sewers. B-12 takes a moment to even recall the existence of children, since the robots they've met thus far only exist in "adult" form. However, Seamus considers Doc his "papa" (and Doc in turn considers Seamus his son), one robot in Antvillage refers to "grown-ups" and there's a child sized robot called "Yosh" near the start of Midtown being scolded by another called "Elc", so it seems the robots have some concept of childhood, even if it's not entirely the same.
  • City in a Bottle: City 99 is completely isolated from the outside world, even other cities. Most of the robots consider "Outside" to be nothing more than a bedtime story.
  • Collection Sidequest:
    • The cat can explore the environment and help B-12 recover its memories, giving more context to the current state of the city and how it once was.
    • The cat can collect music sheets for a musician in the Slums, who will reward the cat by playing the songs on the sheets, and a badge when all sheets are collected.
    • Another robot wants the cat to collect plants. Collecting and turning in all of them grants another badge.
  • Controllable Helplessness: After falling into the Sewers, the player must direct the cat as it gets up briefly and limps around, but it will collapse a few seconds after that. A cutscene later, control will be returned for real.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: If you collect the diaries of the other Outsiders before meeting Momo, B-12 will end each diary's description insisting you go see Momo now.
  • Creative Sterility: Discussed when viewing a mural painted by a robot. Originally, they lacked the ability to create their own art and simply mimicked humanity, but have now evolved to the point where their art is their own. The same can be seen in their society - they originally mimicked human society but have begun to develop their own unique additions such as language and spiritualism.
  • Creator Cameo: B-12 is named after developer BlueTwelve Studio's logo.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: The majority of the game takes place in dirty and decaying city streets and industrial zones. The Control Room stands out starkly as a result due to being pristine due to the continuous labor of its non-sapient Helpers.
  • Cue the Sun: The end of the game has the cat and B-12 opening up the roof of the city in order to expose it to the outside.
  • Cute Clumsy Creature: Half the fun of the game is enacting this trope whenever and wherever you can. It's even necessary at more than one point to progress the plot (for instance by knocking a paint can off a ledge so it falls through and breaks a glass ceiling you need to drop through), and to get the Cat-a-strophe achievement by disrupting a pair of robots' mahjong game.
  • Cute Kitten: You are playing one! A close up of the Stray's mouth shows the little moggie still has some kitten teeth.
  • Cybernetics Will Eat Your Soul: In a sense. Thanks to uploading their brain to the robots' virtual system in order to save themself from death, B-12 loses almost all of their memories and sense of self, to the point that they don't even realize that they were formerly a human until about 3/4s of the way through the game.
  • Cyberpunk: Both trailers present the setting as a typical cyberpunk environment - a dirty, neon-lit city with rampant technology (robotic citizens).
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: There's no actual weather in the underground city, but there are plenty of leaking pipes in the roof that simulate the effect.
  • Cypher Language: The chapter titles and some (but not all) of the signs and labels in the game are in a substitution cypher for English.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • When the cat and B-12 leave Momo's flat to find the Outsider journals, B-12 will direct the cat to the flat directly opposite of the window. If the journal in that flat is already collected, B-12 will instead suggest that the cat look for other Outsider flats.
    • Later on, a robot asks the cat to destroy some security cameras, in exchange for a cassette tape. If the cat destroys the cameras before talking to the robot, the robot chides the cat for trying to steal the tape but hands it over as thanks for wrecking the cameras.
  • Diegetic Interface: The screen on your backpack will display interaction icons matching your button prompts.
  • Distinguishing Mark: The Cat is an organic creature, which none of the robots have seen anything like before.
  • Door to Before:
    • After activating the radio tower on The Rooftops, a conveniently-placed bucket will take you back to the Slums.
    • After getting the battery from the factory, a handy bucket right outside that room will drop you back at the entrance to Midtown.
  • Dying Town: The Slums have shrunk drastically in both size and population due to the Zurk. Most of the lower levels are completely overrun, with the inhabitants consumed, and the survivors have no way to reclaim and rebuild what was lost.
  • Eaten Alive: The first living robot the Cat discovers had three of its limbs devoured by the Zurks you scare off. It manages to reach toward you for help before it dies from the damage suffered.
  • Edge Gravity: The game won't let you walk off any but the shortest drops (the cat will just sit down when close to the edge), requiring you to jump if you actually want to get down, and even the option to jump is only available when a safe destination is in reach.
  • Effortless Achievement:
    • You get an achievement for jumping 500 times, in a game whose Player Character is a cat that's trying to escape an underground city to return to the surface. It's impossible not to unlock this achievement early in your first playthrough.
    • Another achievement requires you to have the stray meow 100 times. While not quite as self-completing as the one mentioned above, it comes a close second.
    • No More Lives, "awarded" for dying nine times - just go to an area with enemies, don't do anything else, reload, rinse and repeat.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Places that the Zurks infest tend to be covered in fleshy webbing and Meat Moss covering the walls and floor, with orange growths that are actually more Zurk eggs. You have to go through the nest of the Zurk. Not only is there Meat Moss all over the walls, but the walls literally have eyes that watch you.
  • Exact Words: The Outsider creed includes the line "We must go Outside at any cost". Clementine explains the "we" means only one Outsider needs to succeed; the Cat has become an honorary member, so she stays behind to distract the Sentinels while the Cat escapes.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Zurks are voracious and equally willing to hunt and consume the flesh-and-blood cat as they are to consume the metal-and-wire robots. It's later discovered this is justified because the Zurks were intentionally created to consume waste and garbage, so the ability to eat organic and inorganic matter was necessary.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Eyes do not belong on the walls of freaking sewer tunnels. Especially not eyes that're blood-red and the size of human children, that blink and follow you as you move about.
  • Falling into the Plot: The story begins when an unnamed orange cat slips while jumping on a pipe and ends up falling far, far down into the old underground cities of the now-extinct humans, now populated by the predatory Zurks and robots which have taken up human customs.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The city's human residents quickly segregated their populace based on location in the city. The Slums in the lowest layers were home to the poorest and received the smallest allotments of electricity, food, and water. Mid-town, home to the wealthy, received far more generous rations. And the floors where the control staff worked had essentially unlimited supplies.
  • Fembot: Despite their bodies being generally uniform, some of the robots are referred to as "she", apparently another result of them mimicking the human society. The most prominent example is the informal leader of the Outsiders, Clementine, who's explicitly called a girl by a few Midtown residents who know her.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right before your first major encounter with the Zurks, you stumble upon a few Zurks surrounding what turns out to be a robot with its lower half missing. It's your first major sign that the Zurks aren't harmless.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • B-12's true nature as a human is hinted at several times. They are the only one who makes references to how the city used to be when humans lived in it. They know the origin of the robots and the Zurks. They are particularly fascinated, and one might say, emotional, about how the robots have essentially picked up their creators' legacy. More telling, they recognize the Cat as being a cat, while the robots do not.
    • Midtown has a few cardboard boxes lying around that the stray can hide in although there's no reason to...at first.
  • Fragile Speedster: The cat, being a fairly small organic creature in a city full of robots and omnivorous monsters, has next to no chance in a straight fight against a horde of Zurks or a Sentinel, but the same small size combined with natural agility, speed and climbing capacity allows it to evade their attacks, straight up outrun them, and quickly hide in places inaccessible to them, surviving situations that would be fatal for any robot. Lampshaded by Momo, who says that the cat is "the only one small and quick enough to evade the Zurks".
  • Future Imperfect: Between the extinction of mankind and the Companions gaining sapience, most of the world's history has apparently been lost. The creation of the City and the Companions is treated more like a creation myth and has only vague details, and that is the earliest story in their history.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: While genetic engineering produced the trees and other plants which can thrive in complete darkness, it also produced the Zurks currently consuming the city.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Zurks were accidentally created by Neco Corp, who developed a bacteria that would dissolve waste and help in trash disposal. After the humans disappeared, the bacteria mutated and grew into something that ate way more than trash.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: The robots inhabiting the Slum, Antvillage, and Midtown have all developed incredibly human personalities and behaviours. By contrast, the robots still inhabiting the Control Room haven't and continue to carry out their maintenance tasks despite there being, well, no humans left to use anything.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: An Antvillage youngster suggests this might be a use for the otherwise-inimical Zurks.
  • Heroic Mime: As far as we know, the cat isn't genetically or supernaturally modified in any way. As such, the cat is unable to speak outside of the meowing and purring that a typical cat can do.
  • Heroic BSoD: When B-12 realizes that they were once human, it rattles them deeply. Luckily, it doesn't take too long for them to focus back on the mission.
  • Heroic RRoD: B-12's desperate attempt to save the cat from being overrun by a tidal wave of Zurks in the very heart of their nest leads to the Defluxor overheating beyond repair and the robot themselves temporarily short-circuiting, but it does give a vital moment of breathing room for the cat, who then manages to run away from the horde with B-12 in its teeth.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Clem runs off to draw the Sentinels away from you as you attempt to go to the Control Room, though she's is seen alive in the end when the Sentinels cornering her are deactivated. B-12 later seriously damages their drone's casing in order to open the door, and then uploads themself into the system to open the door. However, the final shot implies that B-12 is still alive in the system.
  • History Repeats: Humanity's extinction occurred due to a plague breaking out in the lower parts of the city and spreading out of control because those in control didn't care about the Slums. The Zurks represent a similar existential threat to the robots, having consumed most of the Slums and are now dangerously close to reaching Mid-Town. The Sentinels, the closest thing to a government the robots have, only care about maintaining control of Mid-Town and so have never tried to stop the Zurks.
  • Holler Button: There's a dedicated button for meowing. Naturally, it's occasionally useful to draw NPC attention.
  • Human All Along: B-12 is actually a human scientist who underwent Brain Uploading, but ended up trapped inside their computer network for so long they ended up forgetting almost everything about themselves.
  • Humanity's Wake: Humans appear to have gone completely extinct some time ago, a time implied to be centuries ago, but their cities are still inhabited by robots that adopted human customs and culture to continue their legacy.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The achievement list consists almost entirely of cat puns.
  • Idle Animation: If left to itself, the cat does cat things like scratching itself, washing its ears, stretching or jumping at passing insects.
  • Instakill Mook: The Sentinels' electric bullet attack will down the cat instantly if it hits, unlike the Zurks' latching which take a few seconds to end you.
  • Interface Screw: Doubling as Schmuck Bait, you can inspect a paper bag, which prompts the Cat to stick its head in the bag. You then spend the next several seconds walking about with the directional controls completely reversed until the bag falls off. You even get an achievement for doing this.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The whole game is about steadily moving upwards, starting in the Slums at the bottom of the subterranean Walled City 99 and pressing on all the way back to the surface.
  • It's Up to You: The cat and B-12 pull a lot of weight during the course of the story, justified by the fact that most of the objectives rely on speed, agility, stealth, and some hacking, which only the combined force of the cat and B-12 have.
  • Killer Rabbit: A few robots remark that they'd think the Zurks were kinda cute if they weren't so dangerous.
  • Light 'em Up: Having evolved in the city, the Zurks are vulnerable to bright light (implied to be UV radiation specifically). Doc builds a UV lamp the cat can use to kill them. Later, opening the city roof causes Zurks to die as sunlight washes over them.
  • Made of Iron: The Cat takes several nasty falls, gets gnawed on by Zurks, and is shot at least once with a Sentinel's taser round. They don't show any sign of damage aside from briefly limping after the falls, which they quickly cure with a little licking.
  • Meat Moss: Areas infested by Zurks have flesh-coloured tendrils and glowing pustules (which are actually Zurk egg pods) all over the walls.
  • Mega-Microbes: The Zurks are actually a type of animal-like prokaryote evolved from genetically modified bacteria that were meant to consume waste products. After humanity's extinction, they evolved into macroscopic predatory organisms, although they retain bacteria's intolerance to UV radiation.
  • Metal Muncher: Robots are shown to eat RAM chips and drink oil. B-12 comments they weren't originally built with digestive systems and is curious how they came to this practice.
    • The Zurks have this mentioned as one of their main features.
  • Missing Mom: The cat family consists of four youngsters, who are probably littermates due to size and some color similarities, yet there's no indication of a mama cat being near. Seamus doesn't have a mother either, but Doc could have assembled his son singlehandedly without a maternal figure having gone missing.
  • The Mole: Blazer, Clementine's agent, eventually sells both her and the cat out to the Sentinels.
  • Mook Maker: The large fleshy pods in the Sewers release about half a dozen zurks each if you get too close. Shining the Defluxor on them pops them early, allowing you to clear the minefield one step at a time to avoid yet another Zerg Rush.
  • Name Amnesia: B-12 can't remember its real name; it goes by "B-12" because that's printed on the shell of the drone body it's been downloaded into.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The city's many problems, from class division to the Zurks, were all the products of humanity. The robots simply mimicked humanity and recreated all the problems on their own.
  • Neon City: The underground cities are covered in lamps and flickering signs distinctive of the cyberpunk setting and keep the setting lit up despite the lack of sunlight. Scanning a neon sign in the slums has B-12 recount how the original human inhabitants got stir crazy living in near-constant darkness because of strict energy use caps. An unnamed denizen rebelled by covering their home in neon signs and rainbow lamps. They were taken away by authorities and never seen again, but this resulted in the entire populace lighting up their homes in solidarity, and there was nothing the authorities could do if everyone did it.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: When scoping out Neco Corp in preparation for stealing their atomic battery, Blazer lurks in a nearby alleyway pretending to read a newspaper. If you look closely, you can see he's holding it upside-down, cluing you in to his relevance if you encounter him before learning why you need to talk to him.
  • No Antagonist: There is no real antagonist in the game; the Zurks and Sentinels are more the embodiments of the societal ills of the Slums and Mid-Town respectively, which interfere with the cat's quest.
  • No Name Given:
    • The cat is referred to by various titles or monikers through the game, but being a stray cat in a civilization of robots who don't have pets, it goes unnamed. For what it's worth, the cat is based on a real cat owned by the developers named Murtaugh.
    • B-12 goes by this name because it's what's written on the body it's currently in. We never learn the name it had as a human.
  • No-Gear Level: The Jail chapter starts off with the cat locked in a small cage, stripped of their backpack and B-12. The first part of that level is getting it all back.
  • Noise Rock: The trio of robots in the Residence play incredibly loud and abrasive music that seems to be their equivalent of this genre.
  • Notice This:
    • Invoked by B-12. When they're still trapped in the computer system, they use a combination of Signs of Disrepair (the first HELP sign the cat sees) as well as lighting up other signs to direct the cat to their flat. The rest of the game then dials it down a bit, but there are still many more or less subtle signs present to mark the way forward, like arrows painted on walls, active ACs that can be jumped on where inactive ones have anti-bird spikes on top, or conspicuously placed sources of illumination in dark areas.
    • Collectible memories have softly glowing, greenish voxel holos floating around them, making them easy to spot once they're in your line of sight. Getting them in your line of sight in the first place, however...
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Blazer is only interested in getting paid; he doesn't care about going Outside. He betrays you and Clementine to the Sentinels for money.
  • Onscreen Chapter Titles: Each chapter of the story is headed with a title filling up the screen. The chapter titles themselves are in the game's Cypher Language, with a "translated" subtitle underneath them.
  • Optional Stealth: Sneaking past the Sentinels in the latter part of the game is the obvious approach to dealing with them, but they are actually fairly slow and their shots can be dodged. It's possible to sprint through most areas where Sentinels are present with no attempt at stealth.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The stray, for the defenses of the City. Very little in that underground world is proof against a normal cat, particularly when B-12 assists.
  • Pacifist Run: The "Pacifist" achievement requires you to beat The Sewers without killing any Zurks via the Defluxor. Shaking them off into the water or luring them to jump into the water doesn't count against this.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Whenever the stray has to personally interact with technology, they do it the only way they can: hit or scratch it until it relents.
  • Personal Space Invader: Zurks attack by jumping onto the cat and latching onto it, causing the screen to start turning red and eventually killing the cat if not shaken off in time.
  • Pet Gets the Keys:
    • How the cat frees Clementine from her cell. Since she and the cat are allies, she just points at the keys and the cat immediately goes after them.
    • You can also decide to help out a robot in the Neco facility in Midtown who's desperately searching for his lost keys. Finding and returning them to him nets you one of the badges required for the Badges achievement.
  • Please Wake Up: The cat pulls a non-verbal one of these after B-12 uploads itself into the City's systems, nudging and rubbing against the unoccupied drone in a vain attempt to get it moving again just before the City opens up.
  • Point of No Return: A Polite example is at the Slums, when the robot at the door to the Sewers asks you if you're done with everything before he closes the door behind you.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When meeting Clementine, if you don’t show her an item immediately when she demands what you want, she says, "Answer me. What. Are. You. Doing. In. My. House?"
  • Punny Name: A company called Neco Corp... in a game where the protagonist is a cat.note 
  • Ragnarök Proofing: One note indicates the robots achieved sentience on day 2544875556, or nearly seven million years after the humans died out. And the game takes place who knows how long after that. Despite the city's decayed state and the water/sewage systems being overrun with Zurk, the place is still functional with power, production of goods, and various necessities.
  • Red Filter of Doom: When a Zurk clings to the cat, the screen gets progressively more red until the cat dies. The effect gradually goes away on its own when all clinging Zurks are shaken off. Getting shot by a Sentinel instantly kills you and turns the screen deep red.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Par for the course, considering the game takes place in an After the End world populated entirely by a robot civilization who were created by the human population before they were wiped out. It's mentioned the robots even eat and drink despite not originally being made to do so (how they do so is not clear though, since they have screens for faces), leading B-12 to speculate they're copying human behaviour.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Number: In the subway, you can find a line map. In small print at the bottom is the city's customer service number: 000 455 785 99 001 987. (Yes, one group of two numbers).
  • Robot Buddy:
    • B-12, a small drone who serves as the cat's companion and helping hands after the cat finds and reactivates it early in the game.
    • Clearly invoked with the NPC robots themselves who, as B-12 can attest, were called Companions back in the day when humanity was still around.
  • Robot Republic: The city is populated with humanoid robots, with not a human to be seen.
  • Run or Die:
    • Several times, you will be attacked by a large swarm of Zurks, forcing you to outrun them until you find somewhere they can't reach you. Notably, the first encounter with the Zurks in Dead City and the final encounter in the Sewers have the defenseless cat running through a corridor trying to escape the Zurks appearing on all sides.
    • Opening the Jail door triggers an alarm that summons a swarm of Sentinels. There is no way to avoid being spotted and chased; the Cat has to flee and catch up to Clementine's truck or die.
  • Schizo Tech: By the time humans died out, they were capable of creating humanoid robots with human-level intelligence, artificial skies, cities that seem to be miles high, genetic modification of plants and microorganisms, and even Brain Uploading, but the general aesthetics of the setting seem to be around 1980s, including Polaroid photographs, analog computer screens, phonographs, jukeboxes, and boomboxes in some areas, and robots wearing 80s-style fashion. Clementine's apartments display even more examples, with decor ranging from 1970s lava lamps to gramophones.
  • Schmuck Bait: Guess what happens if you choose to interact with one of the paper bags found throughout the Slums? It promptly gets stuck on your head and freaks you out, just as it would any real-life cat.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Zig-Zagged. Here in the real world, humanity's ancestors diverged from chimpanzees only 3-5 million years ago, ballpark, and have only been recognizable as modern humans for roughly 100,000-200,000 years. In-game information indicates Stray takes place a minimum of 7 million years in the future, yet housecats look exactly the same (albeit much more intelligent if the player character is any indication) despite environmental pressures changing radically, and the setting is recognizably a former human city (Hand Waved by the robots still maintaining it). On the other hand, trash-eating bacteria evolved into the rat-sized Zurks in the same amount of time. Note that their clock has 16 numbers on it instead of 12. It might imply that Companions have different ways of telling time.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: B12 mourns that their drone body is lacking in senses compared to being a human. They even miss bad feelings.
  • Sequel Hook: B-12 is implied to still be alive in the system. The cat returns to the outside world to find its family.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Doc is a robot with wires around his hair emulating a wild mane of hair, a fondness for goggles, and who has made an invention that requires 1.21 gigawatts to work. Also, everyone just calls him "Doc" and he hangs out with a younger person who constantly wears a reddish-orange sleeveless puffer vest and whose legs are denim blue. Doc's home is also filled with clocks.
    • Near the bottom of Antvillage you can find a treasure hunter who says one of the stock shopkeeper lines from Skyrim.
    "Some may call this junk, me I call it treasure..."
    • Also, there's a denizen in Midtown lamenting the end of their career after they took a screwdriver to the knee.
      • The Midtown denizen in question is named Sojiro, lamenting how his bar closed down.
    • The stray falling in the chasm in the beginning, after trying unsuccessfully to keep its grip on the chasm's edge, is highly reminiscent of Mufasa's death in The Lion King.
      • It also looks a bit like Agro's fall near the end of Shadow of the Colossus, particularly due to the pipe shifting and giving way a bit like the bridge did.
    • The way the Zurks act, banding together in huge groups to attack the stray, giving a small time window for the cat shaking them off and having a weakness to light, is a nod to the rats from A Plague Tale: Innocence.
      • Furthermore, the Zurks themselves look like a cross between the headcrabs and snarks from Half-Life, further reinforced by their habit of jumping and latching on to you.
      • The Zurk also evoke Flood infection forms from Halo: They attack in large groups, latch onto you en masse to deal damage, and pop like balloons when killed. The giant eye which seemingly summons the Zurks echoes the Gravemind.
    • You can visit a place called Dufer Bar.
    • Within the jail, you can find a robot named Capone and another named Lupin.
    • There are stealth sections in Midtown where the cat can avoid detection by hiding in cardboard boxes. Also, the trophy/achievement icon for going through Midtown without being caught by a Sentinel is a pixel image of a cat wearing Solid Snake's bandana.
    • The two DJs in the Midtown Nightclub have oversized spherical heads with horizontal red-glowing visors that make them look suspiciously similar to the guys from Daft Punk. Given that both the devs and Daft Punk are from France, it's probably not a coincidence.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Early in the game, the cat encounters a neon sign which partially lights up to say "HELP". On closer inspection, it appears that the full sign says "CHAPEL CUP", with another sign nearby suggesting that it's advertising a coffee shop (now, of course, long derelict).
  • Single-Task Robot:
    • Companions were originally glorified cleaning tools, only able to execute simple functions with no deviation, before their long evolution into sapience. Some non-sapient Helpers can still be found in the Control Room.
    • The Sentinels were created to act as a security force, first to uphold the law and later to suppress unrest. Centuries later they still serve this task without any sign of additional intelligence.
  • Sliding Scale of Collectible Tracking: "It's here somewhere." The main collectible is Memories for B-12. The chapter select menu tells you how many Memories are in a level, and how many you have found, e.g. "Slums 5/7."
  • Smashing Survival: If a Zurk manages to catch the cat, you have to mash a button to shake it off before the cat dies. This is, naturally, more difficult the more Zurks have joined the pile.
  • Speaking Simlish: The robots' language is unintelligible gibberish to any non-robot. B-12 translates it in text form, so you never get to hear them talk in a human tongue (and even B-12 itself had to teach itself how to understand it first). When you rescue Clementine from her cell in the jail, you are unable to understand her until you rescue B-12 as well.
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: The Jail chapter starts as a long stealth mission where the Cat must dodge patrols and trick Sentinels. Opening the door at the very end sets off a klaxon and flashing red lights, summoning a swarm of Sentinels as the Cat runs after a fleeing Clementine.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The Cat has no way to fight the Sentinels, so the safest approach is to sneak past them by avoiding their field of view and slipping between patrols.
  • Stray Animal Story: If the title wasn't enough of a clue, the player character is a cat whose litter was brought up in the wild - by definition, making it a stray.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Surprisingly, not the cat, who has enough common sense to not jump in any body of water deeper than a puddle (and cannot fall in it by accident due to Edge Gravity). Any Zurk falling into water, however, is gone without as much as a splash.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Both enemy types in the game.
    • Zurks will never stop coming after you as long as they can find a path to you that doesn't have major gaps to cross or height differences to clear. You need to either run away or find a way to block them off or lock them in.
    • Sentinels can be lost after they've noticed you, but only as long as their search beams are yellow or orange. If they turned red completely, which happens very quickly, they will never stop hunting you. If you hide in a box, they'll just bunch up outside, waiting for you to reappear. Even if you leave the area and return later, they'll still be on high alert.
  • Team Pet: The cat is an Outsider, although it's not sapient or even an official member for most of the story. But it inspires Momo to keep working and shows everyone that life can be found on the Outside.
  • TV Head Robot: Most of the robots have block, analog faces like these, usually displaying simple dot-and-line faces or sometimes symbols. Robots in Midtown can get their heads swapped for specialty models at the barber, ranging from cameras to loudspeakers. The Sentinels have heads resembling security cameras, making them appear much less friendly and denoting their function as Midtown's police.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Mentioned by Vladee in Midtown about himself: if he continues to replace his body parts and upgrades all his software, will he still be the same robot? If you talk to him again he'll mention that some people believe they live in an underground bunker where shadows on the wall are displayed by others and from where they must escape. In short, a Platonic Cave.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: When B-12 realises they were the scientist all along.
  • Translator Buddy: B-12 is able to understand the signs and the language of the other robot inhabitants and translate it all for the cat. When the cat is captured and loses access to B-12, it is unable to understand Clementine, and losing B-12 in the end renders the cat unable to talk with the Helper robots.
  • Trash of the Titans:
    • The slums and the entirety of the lower city are run down and littered with forgotten debris, litter, and the detritus of society. The Zurk were supposed to be used to keep this under control, presumably in a place or manner that was supposed to be controlled, but this clearly didn't go as planned. Fittingly enough, this may have been unintentionally playing an early Cyberpunk trope straight, as rampant garbage and graffiti were used as signs of urban decay, a trait in common with the game's inspiration from the real Kowloon Walled City.
    • As much as it sets the tone for "society" in the slums, that's not all there it to it. The abandoned, densely built and poorly planned city has trash contrasted with rampant Zurk nests and the biological structures associated with them, and oddly enough thriving plant life that the Zurk apparently have no interest in eating.
  • Tuckerization: Several of the robots are named after people who worked on the game; for instance, Koola and Viv in the nightclub are the two people that the game was created and directed by, while the trio of bots in the Residence in Midtown - Miko, Jeanma, and Simon - are named after the animators.
  • Underground City: The entirety of the game takes place in a massive underground city known as Walled City 99 (a reference to the Kowloon Walled City, which the game's setting is heavily inspired by). The city has been stuck in lockdown mode for centuries because the controllers died of a plague which wiped out humankind. At the end, B-12 and the cat are finally able to open the roof and let real sunlight down into the city.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Aside from a few robots briefly panicking due to mistaking you for a Zurk, very few ever question what you are despite being the only cat they've seen in their centuries-long lives. Some seem to assume the stray is just a furry robot and leave it at that, with one such robot saying after meeting the stray that they like the concept of a small quadruped that makes cute sounds.
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg": The Zurk are a recurring threat in the game. They're an animalistic waste control solution gone out of control, derived from an experimental bacteria by N.Eco Corp made to clean up trash; presumably created in a lab as an offshoot of the bacteria experiment, because it would take millions of years, not the few centuries humanity's been gone, to evolve from a single cell organism to a macroscopic being like the Zurk. Hilariously enough, they're a peewee version of the Zerg; they eat almost everything and build biological structures based on Meat Moss. Though the Zurk don't have the intelligent and ambitious hive mind, behaving more instinctively and like a pest grown out of control, since the infested city and most of the possessions of its former inhabitants are still mostly in tact. However, it still makes them more than a match for a cat.
  • Visibility Meter: The Sentinels light up the area they're observing. When nothing is present this is blue, but seeing the Cat for an extended period will cause the color to transition to green, yellow, orange, and finally red. The closer to red the light becomes, the more aggressively the Sentinel will seek the Cat; at red it cannot return to a lower alert state.
  • Visual Pun: In Dufer Bar there's a series of RAM chips soaking in broth - RAMen.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: The Zurk Nest has eyes that watch you as you progress.
  • Was Once a Man: B-12 used to be a human. But B-12 can't remember anything about that, and only goes by "B-12" because that's what is written on the robotic shell that they've been downloaded into. Also, the player never learns what B-12's name was when they were human.
  • Weakened by the Light: The Zurks start exploding when exposed to the sunlight at the end of the game, just like when they're affected by the Defluxor.
  • Wham Line: A tutorial prompt of all things becomes this. Immediately after your first major encounter with the Zurks, the game teaches which button to press in order to run. You'll need it.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed. The last section of the game is the control room to the entire underground city, but access is restricted to humans only. B-12 has at this point discovered they are a human that underwent Brain Uploading, but the system doesn't consider them human, and somewhat jokingly says that's offensive.
  • Womb Level: In general, anywhere that is heavily infested with Zurks, like The Rooftops and Zurk Nest, tends to be this, with Meat Moss and fleshy webbing consuming the location.
  • Your Head Asplode: The Zurks are basically all head, consisting of little more than a giant glowing eye with a bit of body and four stubby legs attached. They also react violently to exposure to UV light. Combine the two and you get a rather graphical death animation for an otherwise fairly kids-friendly game.
  • Zerg Rush: The Zurks are bug-like entities which are weak individually and are first encountered in small numbers, fleeing or scurrying away from the cat. They are much more deadly and aggressive in huge numbers and attempt to chase down and jump onto the player cat, bringing them down if not shaken off in time.

"You were my friend, the very best I could've asked for."
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