Stray Gods review | In a modern fantasy world, college dropout Grace is granted the power of a Muse – power she’ll need to find out the truth behind her predecessor’s death before time runs out. You’ll decide who Grace allies with, who she can trust, and who may betray her in this beautifully hand-illustrated roleplaying musical. I have to admit, at first glance, this was looking like it would be something I might not enjoy, but being a fan of both musicals, both theatrical and film-based, I decided to give it a shot, and I was pleasantly surprised. Stray Gods manages to offer something unique in a market that is quickly becoming harder to find your market in.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What We Liked!
- The Graphics | Graphically Stray Gods looks great. It uses a mixture of 2D hand-drawn images against a 3D backdrop. Not all scenes are 3D though, with some being purely 2D. However, during the 2D and 3D scenes, it creates a sort of parallax effect giving depth to the scene and the characters making it stand out compared to other 2D games on the market. It’s a really nice style, and one that helps the particle effects provide light to the scene. For example, later, when you go to Hades, the blueish-green flames allow for lighting to bounce off of the 3D objects such as the boat that takes you across the River Styx.
- The Music | The music in Stray Gods is definitely the main attraction. Here is where you will find the beautifully sung duets, solos, and group pieces by the actors involved. Each score was written by Austin Wintory who scored Flow and Journey which made history as the only videogame to be nominated for a Grammy Award. Not only this, but each song has 3 different variants, which to me, is a crazy thing to think about. Not only do you need to write three different versions of the song, but you also need to match three different sets of lyrics. It is clear to me that some real time and effort was put into the way these songs have been constructed.
- The Story | Secondary to the music is the story that Stray Gods wraps itself in. This isn’t a bad thing because the story itself is quite interesting. Essentially we have a murder mystery angle in which Grace who has just become an Idol, needs to uncover the reason behind the death of the previous Idol before her. There are many aspects to the story of Stray Gods, with your actions making them as personal or impersonal as you would like. The game is written by David Gaider, the writer from the Dragon Age series, you just know the story is going to be good, right from the start given the quick death of one of the gods.
- Multiple Choice | The core of any RPG is the choices that you make. Stray Gods has multiple-choice selections featured throughout most of the game. This takes the form of conversational options, musical selections, and where to go to carry on your adventure. Each choice doesn’t necessarily result in a consequence, but what it does do is potentially lead your adventure in a certain direction, limiting your actions or forcing a certain direction later on. There are times when you can alter this, but some are set in stone. It’s a really clever, thought-out dynamic for the player.
- Relationships & Consequences | During your time with Stray Gods, you can develop friendships, enemies, and even lovers. It really depends on what sort of story you want to take. There are multiple people to develop your relationship with including the gods. Not only this, but your selections also carry consequences throughout the story. For example, later on in the game, I decided to choose Freddie as a distraction for Hecatae which resulted in Freddie’s death. Freddie was already Grace’s friend, but I was gradually working on them to become closer. The result left Grace traumatised, hurt and made the story more personal. As I mentioned above in the story section, it’s very well written with the developers really carving out care and emotion from the player.
- Performance Issues | There was only one instance of the game giving poor performance and this was in the section with Hecate and the Minotaur. The game drops down to single-digit frames and your selections take seconds to activate. I am unsure as to why this happens in a game of this caliber since the 3D is quite limited but it is quite annoying since it affects the audio a little bit too. However, this was the only instance and lasts around 10 minutes in total. You can skip the dialogue if you would like by hitting X, but when you are engaged with something, you don’t really want to.
What We Disliked
- A Game breaking bug | Honestly, I hate writing about these issues in reviews, but it was the worst thing that could have happened to me given that game features no chapter selection. In the final act as you are about to confront Athena, the map section asking me where I would like to travel stops working entirely. I could not progress the game and so my only option was to quit the menu. From here I selected load game to resume from where I left off, but the game for some reason no longer recognised my save. Clicking on it did nothing. I closed the game down, restarted the game from scratch, went to my load game, confirmed it was there, clicked on it, and… It loaded… From Act 1. The game had decided to completely reset my progress. Something up until this point I had invested hours into, being engaged in the story, figuring out what happened and who the killer was. As you can imagine I was pretty annoyed at this. It did give me a reason to go back and make different choices in the game but at this point, the core story was already understood.
How long to beat the story | 6 hours
How long to get all achievements | 15+ hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Signalis and Oxenfree
Stray Gods despite the one big issue manages to deliver an entertaining, and charming game about love, loss, and mystery. The musical angle of the role-playing genre is something I have never seen before, and having the choices impact the outcome and style of the song made it fun to try different styles. The story is engaging enough that you build a good relationship with the characters along the way and as a result end up caring about them and all the outcomes. I highly recommend you check out this game for yourself.
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I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.