My beaufitul face

Dan Palmer

Hello. I work for Condé Nast Britain as a front end developer. I usually tweet a lot of crap whilst listening to a lot of music. My nickname is Gonads. I wear shorts all year round.

Sunday Morning Itch - Stray

written on Mar 5, 2017

Stray is a dungeon exploration game with a pinch of puzzle.

Stray

There is a deep underlying bass track to the music. The method is which it has been placed together sounds bubbly but not as if water bubble, something thicker like oil or tar. There is a lighter sound over the top; keyboard + chorus + flanger + shit-load of echo. The way it is played almost sounds question-like which complements this game terribly well as you’re exploring the dungeon, unsure with what awaits around the corner on the next screen. If they were to add some bitcrusher, I believe this backing music could easily be fitted into Axiom Verge.

The interaction sounds are very simple computer beeps. They stand quite strong on top of the lower background sound.

The controls are simple:

  • x to shoot
  • i for inventory
  • arrow keys to move

Apparently, I miss understood the first screen you get when you load as some kind of symbols possibly associated with the game as when I went through my first run, I was completely unaware I could view my inventory. In my head, I was curious if there was a way to see what I was currently carrying completely oblivious to the fact I had already read the controls.

Stray - Controls

I love the black and white colours. So simple and also very harsh which only works well in this crisp, sharp pixel art style. Towards the edge of the screen, the display is very slightly curved. Along with this is a bit of RGB splitting adding the only colour to the game: cyan, red, little bit of blue and some green. Very subtly the screen is also scaling up and down as if it were breathing softly.

The labels in the game (caused by interacting with a spawn point or checking your inventory) are very command line visual.

> YOU FEEL SAFE █

The block cursor at the end of the line flashes furiously as letters within the sentence glitch and are replaced with others.

Stray - Labels I couldn’t catch it saying safe

As you move from screen-to-screen, the map feels like it rolls in from off of the screen following the faux curved screen.

The beginning of the game is cleverly constructed so you must explore the first few rooms in order to find a weapon. This allows you to destroy certain obstacles and also kill enemies. There are floating moths in the majority of the rooms inviting you to be inquisitive as to whether you can be hurt by them or if you just want some target practice.

Moving around is very quick and sleek which definitely comes in handy later against some fast and frustratingly close-placed enemies. The game also makes it very easy to get back into it after you die from those frustratingly close-placed enemies.

Once you finish the game, one of the last messages displayed is how many secrets you found. After that, it just displays a black empty screen rather than restarting the game. If you finished without finding all the secrets, it leaves you in a little predicament. I now know I did not find everything I could have. Was there a snazzy weapon? Was there a powerup that might have helped kill some enemies? Was there a hidden message in one of the hidden rooms? The black screen almost taunts you, saying “Hey, you didn’t find everything and I’m not going to restart the game for you, so you have to do it yourself” that it makes you want to replay and find those rooms.

Itch link: https://rxi.itch.io/stray

Stray - End screen Blank screen.