AFP, published on Friday August 05, 2022 at 08:15
The video game “Stray”, whose protagonist is an alley cat, has won over many humans since its release in July. More surprisingly, the title also arouses the fascination of felines.
On Twitter, the “Cats Watching Stray” account, which lists the most zany reactions of cats observing the adventures of the mustachioed hero, already has more than 37,000 subscribers.
In “Stray”, a quadruped roams an underground city populated by humanoids and strange creatures. Using a drone, the tomcat must solve a series of puzzles to get back to the surface.
“We made this game with a real passion for our companions”, explains to AFP Swann Martin-Raget, producer at BlueTwelve, the French studio behind this production.
A large part of the team owns a cat and he shares his home with two furry housemates, Tao and Litchi.
Leading the best releases of the year, according to a ranking of the Steam platform, and rewarded with an average of 83/100 on Metacritic, “Stray” is available on Playstation and PC.
If some critics regret a simplistic adventure, most praise its graphic qualities, its dreamlike atmosphere and above all the satisfaction and the feeling of freedom that it gives to embody a cat.
From the dog in “Dog’s Life” to the wild wolf in “Okami” passing by the goat in “Goat Simulator”, there are many games offering to lead an animal. But, until “Stray”, feline references were rare.
One of the major development challenges, says Mr. Martin-Raget, was to create a realistic animal.
For the visual aspect, BlueTwelve was inspired by Murtaugh, a stray cat adopted by the studio’s co-founders. And Oscar, the sphynx of one of the team members, served as a model for the animations.
The feline in “Stray” purrs, curls up to take a nap and takes malicious pleasure in damaging the furniture. A button even makes it meow.
“You couldn’t play a game with a cat without a sofa on which you can scratch,” laughs Mr. Martin-Raget.
– Felines for the other –
On social networks, photos and videos of cats intrigued or hypnotized by the mustachioed hero in the television are numerous.
“Every time I play, the silhouette of his two ears blocks the bottom of the screen,” says Curtis Amrein about Bebe, his short-haired companion.
Hobbes, 8, “is particularly curious when the cat in ‘Stray’ meows and I change the angle of the camera to zoom in on his face”, describes his owner, Enzo Yaksic.
Reactions that can be explained by the realism of the hero, said animal behaviorist JoAnna Puzzo, from the British shelter Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, in an interview for the specialized American site Gamespot.
The creators of the game “captured many of the cat’s natural social behaviors, such as grooming or group rubbing”, observes the expert. “They also added subtle details like his pupils that dilate when he’s alert, his ears that fold back and his defensive posture.”
The phenomenon delights the developers who claim not to have anticipated such a craze.
“When the studio cats started reacting to what was happening on our screens, we thought we were going in the right direction,” recalls Mr. Martin-Raget. “But you never imagined that so many cats would try to jump into the TV.”
Another sign of the enthusiasm for “Stray”: fans of the game have created mods, these computer modules that allow you to change the appearance of the main character.
Garfield or Marie (the Artistochats’ kitten) are among the options. To satisfy the greatest number, it is also possible to transform the hero into an adorable puppy.