If you are a fan of Telltale-style games but want an added sprinkle of personality and more impactful decision-making elements, Stray Gods could be right up your alley. There are no episodes, and you can beat the game from beginning to end with various endings catered to by a unique system, with lot of musical numbers along the way. In my Stray Gods review, I’ll talk about this unique musical title, and what it brings to both genres.
Story and Characters
You take on the role of Grace, a vocalist in a small indie band that is going through some issues. Without dwelling on too many spoilers, she has been accused of murdering one of the Greek Idols and she has a week to prove her innocence to Athena, or else.
Along the way, you meet many other famous names and faces in Greek mythology such as Apollo, Medusa, Persephone, and more. Their interactions with you depend on a unique system introduced in the game that is very similar to the paragon/renegade system in Mass Effect. Grace can utilize dialogue options that can boost her Charming (Doing the right thing, is more likable), Kickass (In your face, not afraid of getting reckless or hostile), or Clever (A combination of sneaky, smart, and witty) dialogue tree.
Each of the dialogue options will present itself to you at opportune moments in the game. If you have enough points in them, can choose to use said option to further make a situation better or worse.
The integration of this dialogue system carries a lot of weight and attention for the player to carefully contemplate how they interact with the other characters in the game. Sometimes a response that might sound charming could actually fuel your clever dialogue, and vice versa.
Sing With Me
Grace’s power comes from influencing other people to sing with her. In these musical moments, you can influence the flow of the song and help determine whether the person in the song will cooperate with you or refuse to help. This is where the previously mentioned system plays the biggest role as these interactions rely on giving Grace access to crucial information or a clue.
Where other games in the genre give you polarizing ending paths (Very good, or the Worst possible ending), this is a good way of encouraging more playthroughs from players and discovering the many other endings that the game holds for you. Your first playthrough is by far your most important one, and follow-up playthroughs are equally unique to make sure you don’t get the same ending again.
The game was written by David Gaider, who was the lead writer for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age! So you know the story is going to be good.
Grace is a well-written character and so are the other characters that make up the world. The game does a good job of setting up and selling a world filled with fun and interesting characters who push the story forward, and depending on what kind of Grace you put forward, your perception of her can vary. I chose the Charming route with Grace and it showed me a lot of fun and unique interactions she encountered on her mystery-solving journey.
There is relatively little to no gameplay. The majority of the game has you choosing dialogue options following an exchange between the characters. You have to click on a world map and choose elements in the world to interact with via the mouse, so the keyboard is effectively useless.
While this sounds like it can be a bit of a dealbreaker, the world is still as explorable as any other game in the genre. You can choose from the interactable objects in the environment or scene you are in via the cursor at select places, but most parts of the game will have you clicking and choosing the right dialogue, and where to go next.
Choosing a dialogue will further fill your Grace’s character for that playthrough, the aforementioned Charming, Kickass, and Clever playthrough. That’s about the gist of the game mechanically. I played this switching back and forth between a controller and mouse and had no problems.
The game has a rather unconventional approach to graphics. The game presents itself in a frame-by-frame setting drawn by hand. The movement is not animated and is more akin to reading a comic book. This means that visually, there isn’t much to look at here and this means greater accessibility to the game for other players. With that said, if you are a fan of strong visual storytelling through comic books, this is perfectly up your alley.
I would have liked more interaction with the world by being able to go to places with new angles similar to the Monkey Island games, or Telltale’s games, but all you can do is click on places on the screen and be shown an image of what you click on.
The music is done by Austin Wintory, better known for their work on Journey and Flow. There is also a massive net of talented voice actors including Felicia Day, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Rahul Kohli, Ashely Johnson, and even more names!
Each voice actor’s performance is stunning and memorable, they are all true masters of their craft, enough so that you will want to hear the other dialogue options on later playthroughs.
That is to say, the musical scores are fun, dynamic, and vary enough to make you playthrough them to listen to their alternate versions, and with that, I highly recommend investing your time into more playthroughs just to hear how each music battle can go!
What Stray Gods lacks in “gameplay” and visuals, it more than makes up for in its stellar performance in terms of the voice acting, brilliant story, broad array of endings, and a unique way of telling the story by turning a game into a musical.
There is so much life and love thrown into this game that you will remember each character vividly from previous playthroughs on your next ones. While the game does have its lack of what a modern-day game is characterized as, it more than makes up for it by showing it is a riveting experience that walks its own path.
What do you think of our Stray Gods Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Stray Gods. The key was provided by Humble Games and Summerfall Studios PR Team.