Let’s Talk About Stray’s Weird Bummer Of An Ending

Let’s Talk About Stray’s Weird Bummer Of An Ending

A cat prepares to jump between two pipes in Stray.

Screenshot: Annapurna/Kotaku

Lost, a post-apocalyptic adventure game about a cat, is mostly excellent. two of us in Kotaku Recently fed through your puzzlesdevouring his dense and eerily post-apocalyptic environments and generally enjoying life a cat’s role-playing game power fantasy. Then we come to the credits. Obviously, we had to talk.

Ari Notes: John, we’re both done Lost. Tell me: Did the end land you? Or did she deviate from what made the rest of the game so great?

John Walker: I knew we were one step away from a pun. No, I would say that my experience of Lost it was a straight diagonal line, starting at the top and then descending lower and lower to its absolutely terrible end.

Ari: I’m not exactly the same, more like a really high plateau that plummeted off a cliff at the end, but I totally agree, that ending sucks. In fact, I had to warn people in real life: it’s so fucking sad!

John: And yet so many people have scolded me so furiously for suggest the ending is completely forgotten THE WHOLE REASON I WAS PLAYING THE GAME. But I think a lot of this is an unwillingness to admit that the cute cat simulator had already become another gray third-person robot game, so the defenses against reality are already very high.

Spoilers follow for Lost.

A yellow banner prevents readers from accidentally seeing spoilers about Stray's ending.

Ari: Oh yeah, that blog rubbed some people’s fur a bit, didn’t it? But yeah, every reason to play Lost it’s quite simple: you want to reunite the cat with his friends. And you go through all these adventures, including those robot shooter sections, the merits of which we don’t agree with, but in a way that I totally respect your opinion, only to have no idea that he ever sees his friends again. It’s a very strange ending for a game that is otherwise so preoccupied with hope.

John: They’re not even just friends, are they? They are brothers who love each other. They are a litter of abandoned kittens, survivors of an apocalypse, and then one of them falls. That sets up a game that, of course, is solely focused on getting back to your brothers and sisters. And instead it’s like they’ve just completely forgotten about it. They got entangled in an ignoble sacrifice completely meaningless.

B-12 talks while hovering over a computer in Stray.

Screenshot: Annapurna/Kotaku

Ari: Yes! For a game about a cat, he got too caught up in the drama surrounding a human. Do you think B-12 is really the last human being alive? And more importantly, did you believe that I would suddenly turn around (sorry, sorry, I can’t help it) and decide, in the space of a few minutes, that no trace of humanity is worth continuing?

John: Well, it’s a human consciousness trapped in a machine. This is a district of a small city, so we know that there could be millions of humans living happily elsewhere in China, Sweden, Bangladesh or Australia. And none of this explains the logic behind his apparent “sacrifice”. Obviously, he uploads his consciousness to the computer, so there’s no sacrifice anyway, but beyond that, what was his purpose? To release a cat, a creature that has no interest in anything but itself, back outside, what for? What is the OBJETIVE? If it was the end of humanity, as the game wants to imply, he did it so he could… let the cat out?

Ari: Oh man, no way, the cat has definitely evolved beyond pure self-interest! (My own cats should take note.) In the prison scene, for example, he’s escaping with Clementine, and then he says, “Meow, meow meow meow, meow,” which translates, I think, to “We can’t get out yet.” We have to organize a risky operation and rescue my friend B12, who is trapped in this cage protected by lasers and robots that shoot lasers.”

John: I was very confused throughout as to whether I was supposed to believe the cat understood what B-12 was saying, or like with my own cats, just look where the noise was coming from and then hope food was on the way. I played it like a game where an uninterested cat accidentally flips the right switches or bumps into the right person.

But all this aside, I would have forgiven any amount of terribly lenient false-sacrifice nonsense if, in the end, my cat had stepped out into the bright sunlight to hear, just off-camera, a startled, “Mew?! ” That is all. That’s all he needed. He didn’t need to see a meeting, see them fall on each other. He just needed to know what was about to happen.

Ari: Exactly! And in a way I understand what they were going for, leaving an open ending so as not to carefully tie the story together for the audience. But I just needed the slightest suggestion that a happy ending might occur, which is what a little off-screen “meow” would have accomplished.

John: What’s even weirder is that they DID do such a “Maybe!” ending. Except it was the bloody human! We turned on the computer light, which I can only assume suggests that B-12 was still alive.

Ari: So what does that mean for the sequel? All robot parts, no cute cat stuff?

John: Obviously I hope they don’t make a sequel. They’re a talented bunch, but Lost revealed that they had absolutely no idea what to do with the idea they had come up with. Either I want to see your next new idea, or just focus on making the cat simulator that everyone really wanted in the first place. God, those microscopic observations they showed near the beginning. And the joyous moment when the cat climbs into the ridiculous chair for the first time. We had to put one of our kitties in a protective sock after he was spayed, and she did the exact same thing, just collapsed like a building was on top of her. Seeing those details realized so clearly was joyful. Which makes for an ending about a boring robbery guy maybe not killing himself for the stupidest reason ever, kind of like a bummer.

Ari: Poor little cat! Please tell me you have pictures of it.


A cat in a jacket rolls on a carpet.

Photo: Kotaku

Ari: Awww. But yes, Lost absolutely nails the feeling of being a cat, right down to waltzing on a keyboard and fucking people’s chess games and such. And I think he carries that feeling mostly to the end. (Even the shooting segmentsthat flashed through my mind; in fact, I found myself wishing for an additional chapter or two). But unlike a real cat, the game didn’t land on all four paws.

John: Before we wrap up, and you mess up a bit more about the shooting sections, let me tell you how the ending went at our house: Toby, my 7-year-old son, had some friends over as he was finishing up the game. on the TV in the living room. Toby had totally lost interest in the game once he stopped being a cat, but he wanted to be there for the meeting. Since it was clear that the game was about to let me out, I said, “Toby, what do you think is going to happen?” He sat up, “The kittens!” And then we all waited for the inevitable glorious moment… And there was just nothing. And we looked at each other in shock. It was so blatantly horrible. And Toby continued to regret this oversight for days afterward. And when a 7-year-old criticizes the structure of your story, you know something is wrong.

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