There have been a few games in recent memory that have toyed with the idea of allowing players to become and interact with true-to-life animals. I remember back when Call of Duty: Ghosts was released when the developers were giving it big licks about their dog models and physics. Then we have had games in recent memory like Nintendogs, where he has been asked to care for our treasured digital pets.
Then who can forget the ill-fated Wild, which was supposed to allow players to switch from one sentient being to another on the fly. However, that project has seemingly been canceled, unless there is some sort of miraculous turnaround. However, from the ashes of Wild, there have been lots of animal-based projects that have changed the perception of what a video game protagonist can be, and arguably, none have done this better than Stray.
Stray is an indie action platformer where you play a simple stray cat who has lost his pack and fell into a strange dystopian city locked away from the outside world. It’s a simple premise, but one that builds over the five-hour runtime to offer one of the most compelling indie, narrative-driven adventures of the year.
I say as much in my Stray PS5 Review, as the game truly surprised me and proved to be more than a simple gimmick. Well, this got me thinking. What other games deliver an action platformer/puzzle adventure like Stray? So naturally, the curiosity got the better of me, and I went digging. However, I’m still alive and kicking, so I guess the saying only applies to kitties.
In this guide, I’m going to be looking at indie games that offer a similar gaming experience to this blockbuster cat game, doing the research, so you don’t have to. This means that if you have completed this new Blue Twelve developed title, you’ll have something new and exciting lined up, so the gaming session never has to end. So without further delay, here are my top picks for the Best Games Like Stray. Enjoy!
Okay, before we jump into this list and start drawing comparisons to this new and exciting feline adventure, we need to lay down some ground rules so that we aren’t just throwing in any old anthropomorphized character or any old game which features an animal. So to keep this locomotive on the tracks, here are my selection criteria:
- It takes more than an animal being featured to make this list. There must be some form of comparable gameplay, such as puzzles, exploration, platforming, etc.
- It doesn’t need to include an animal protagonist, but it sure does help.
- All games selected should have a 70% aggregate rating or higher on Metacritic.
- The game doesn’t have to be an indie, but again, it helps.
Okay, cough up those furballs and get ready. Here is our list of all the best games like Stray.
#1 – Untitled Goose Game
- Developer: House House
- Genre: Puzzle
- Metacritic Score: 79%
We begin proceedings with Untitled Goose Game, a title that began as an office prank, but soon morphed into one of the most successful indie games in recent memory. This title sets you loose in a quaint little English village, and your goal is simple. Cause chaos and honk profusely.
This puzzle game won tonnes of awards back in 2020, and it’s easy to see why as it offers laugh-a-minute gameplay, sandbox-style fun, and accessible gameplay, meaning it’s a game for all the family.
I placed it on this list for a handful of reasons. The first is that you play as an animal but with no gimmicks. You can’t magically speak; you don’t have special powers. You are just a Goose, as you are just a cat in Stray.
Second, I placed it here due to the clever puzzle design and the need to fully explore the small areas of the map that you uncover to work through your list of tasks.
Then thirdly, I placed it on this list because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a well-designed and beautifully crafted game, but it accepts that it is equally a silly game about a goose causing mayhem. For all these reasons and more, this makes for a great game to play when you finish up with Stray.
#2 – Endling: Extinction is Forever
- Developer: Herobeats Studios
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 81%
In at number two, we have a game that is fresh off the presses, having released the exact same day as Stray; what are the odds? Endling: Extinction is Forever sees the player take control of a fox who must fight to defend her young against the perils of this tragic world ravaged by the humans that left it behind.
Pretty uncanny how many themes Endling shares with Stray when you lay it all out in front of you, huh? The gameplay on offer here is a little different from Stray in that this game is a side-scrolling adventure game like Limbo and Braid, for example.
I placed Endling: Extinction is Forever on this list because of a few comparative points. One is the aforementioned narrative comparisons which showcase a dystopian world where humans are long since extinct and have left behind a terrifying, hostile planet.
Secondly, the game does a great job of portraying the featured foxes as just that, foxes. They have to fight for survival, they rely on their mother to lead the way, and they have their own little quirks and personalities too.
Then lastly, I chose this one due to the short but sweet nature of this game. Admittedly, Stray is a much more deep and replayable game, but Endling doesn’t overstay its welcome, and that’s important with indie games of this nature. This new title is well worth a go, trust me.
#3 – Okami
- Developer: Clover Studio
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 93%
We jump all the way back to the PS2 era to grab our next entry, but fear not, this one has been remastered for modern consoles too. Okami was a groundbreaking game back when it was released in 2006. In an era of mascot platformers and hack n’ slash titles, Okami was artistically stunning, bold in nature, and offered a gripping narrative and interesting gameplay mechanics unseen in the world of video gaming before its release.
Okami tells the story of Amaterasu, the sun god who has taken the form of a wolf to rid the curse that has been plaguing the lands and restore the natural order. It’s a timeless classic that I would put in the category of ‘Best games of all time’ for sure. If that isn’t an endorsement, then I don’t know what is.
I placed Okami on this list due to the fact that you play as an animal, albeit an animal who also doubles as a sun god. It’s on this list because of the clever way that the game handles puzzles through the use of the paintbrush strokes mechanic, and I also placed it on this list due to the linear format that encourages exploration within small pockets at a time. The only thing at odds with this game being here is the presence of combat, but if you can allow for this, Okami is a great Stray substitute.
#4 – Deliver Us The Moon
- Developer: KeokeN Entertainment
- Genre: Action Puzzler
- Metacritic Score: 71%
What, a game that doesn’t feature a single animal? Yes, I know, but hear me out because this game does present itself very similarly to Stray if you strip back the parts and examine them. Deliver Us The Moon is a game recently given a PS5 upgrade, where the player needs to travel to the moon and reestablish a connection with Earth to give the planet back its prime energy source and effectively save the world.
No pressure for our little astronaut fella, eh? This game has a blend of action set-pieces, head-scratching puzzles, and exploration that make this game a joy to behold for any sci-fi lovers. The game can feel very similar to walking simulators like Gone Home at times, but in other ways, it’s very similar to Stray.
I see this one as a good Stray substitute because of the way gameplay is handled. The majority of the game is played from a 3rd-person perspective, the puzzles on offer are handled very similarly to Stray, and as I mentioned in my Stray Review, the stealth sections with the sentinels in Stray and the robots towards the end of Deliver Us the Moon are very similar.
Plus, both games blend moments of free-roaming exploration, puzzles, and action set-pieces brilliantly. There may not be any animals present here, but Deliver Us The Moon and Stray are more alike than you might think. Trust me on that.
#5 – Outer Wilds
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Genre: Open World, Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 85%
In at number five, we have another game absent of an animal protagonist. However, I firmly believe that the open-world galaxy mini solar-system explorer Outer Wilds is cut from the same cloth as Stray.
In Outer Wilds, you play as a space explorer who has just been given clearance to take to the skies and explore the stars beyond their own. However, what soon becomes apparent is that you are stuck in an infinite time loop that lasts twenty-two minutes exactly.
This means that players will have to explore this pocket universe, find out what’s causing this strange phenomenon and restore order to the space-time continuum. Just your typical first day on the job, really.
I’ve included this game because of the way that it handles NPC interactions. Much like the robots in Stray, the player is able to interact with other alien life-forms; however, the game is largely about how you interact with the environment around you.
The game also encourages exploration of small but dense locations, and has an abundance of interlinking puzzles to solve. Then as well as that, both games have killer soundtracks, with Outer Wilds and the track Timber Hearth specifically offering some unforgettable background music for your adventure.
Overall, it’s not a like-for-like comparison, but I would wager that fans of Stray would also take to Outer Wilds like a duck to water.
Check out the following guide to get you started in the Outer Wilds.
#6 – Maneater
- Developer: Tripwire Interactive
- Genre: Action
- Metacritic Score: 70%
Okay, enough about space, back to the animal protagonists. In Maneater, you get to live your Jaws fantasy and play as a great white living on the Gulf Coast. The goal is simple. You must use the environment to your advantage, feed to evolve, and make this seaside residence a bloodbath. Only one thing stands in your way.
The humans aren’t exactly fond of you, and while you swim around causing chaos, they will be doing their utmost to make sure you are strung up by your tail. It goes without saying that it’s not as whimsical or as wholesome as Stray, but it’s a fun and satisfying experience nonetheless.
I included Maneater on this list primarily because of the approach that sees you play as an animal with no gimmicks. You are a shark, and you swim around doing shark things, simple as that. I also added this one as there is a surprising amount of narrative involved in this action sandbox title, much like Stray.
Then as well as this, Maneater offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure, like Stray. Thematically this game is a little different, and there is much more gore involved here; if you can get past that, it could be a great next title to try out.
#7 – Inside
- Developer: PLAYDEAD
- Genre: Action Platformer
- Metacritic Score: 91%
What? The Spiritual successor to LIMBO. How does that compare to the fun cat game? Well, you would be surprised just how similar these games are when you put the animal-related aspect to one side. Inside is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer where you are placed in a dystopian city where the residents are under mind control.
So to navigate this horrifying alternate reality, you must platform, solve puzzles, use your own gadgets to control these zombie-like people, and ultimately try and free the city from this hive-mind existence. This game is thematically much more dark and sinister than Stray, but in terms of its setting and gameplay approach, there are a lot of comparisons to be made.
I included INSIDE on this list as the game has a strange and mysterious dystopian city setting, hidden underground, that the player falls into and must save, which is exactly what happens in Stray. Then in terms of gameplay, if you put the 2D side-scrolling aspect to one side, both games offer a blend of platforming and puzzles as a means of progression.
Honestly, we could have fired LIMBO or Little Nightmares onto this list too, but due to the uncanny similarities of the dystopian settings, we recommend Stray fans try out INSIDE.
#8 – Lost Ember
- Developer: Mooneye Studios
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 78%
Hey, remember the game Wild that I mentioned earlier? Well, Lost Ember is a game that takes the core mechanic of swapping bodies from animal to animal, then offers a more linear approach to make things more manageable from a developmental perspective, leading to one of the most captivating and underrated animal games on the market.
This title sees you explore a world that nature has reclaimed from the humans that lived there before, and your job is to uncover the secrets of the past, hidden within the ancient ruins of Machu Kila. This game is incredibly ambitious but pulls off a lot of what it sets out to do. With open-world elements, tonnes of opportunities for exploration, varied gameplay, clever puzzles, and a gripping narrative, this is a gaming opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up on
How is it like Stray, you ask? Well, the game features a list of playable animals like wolves, parrots, moles, fish, and more. The game also has fun platforming, puzzles, and areas to explore, and the game’s story sees you, a silent animal protagonist guided by your ember sidekick, trying to uncover the secrets left behind by humans and restore the world to its former glory.
Of all the games listed here, I wouldn’t say it is the best of the bunch, but in terms of similarity with Stray, this game is probably to closest you will get.
#9 – Tokyo Jungle
- Developer: Crispy’s!
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 74%
We jump back to the PS3 era for a very surreal cult classic with playable animals at the center of the action. In Tokyo Jungle, you play as one of a wide selection of animals, and your role is to gather a group of other animals and survive within this re-imagined Tokyo where humans are gone, and animals rule the roost.
Players can either play in story mode, where you must play as a Pomeranian and interact with other animals to uncover why the humans of Tokyo have disappeared. Or you can play survival mode and see how long your group of beasties can survive against what lurks in the Tokyo Jungle. It’s one that may have passed many gamers by back in the day, but equally, it’s one of those games I would urge players to seek out and play at least once.
It’s pretty easy to see how this one made the list. There are tonnes of playable animal characters that are animals with no gimmicks involved, and the story sees you try to uncover secrets left behind by humans in a huge, largely empty cityscape.
It’s a little wackier than Stray, and the combat is much more front and center in this game too. However, if you want another game where animals get top-billing, there are few more exciting options than Tokyo Jungle.
#10 – The Last Guardian
- Developer: SCE Japan Studios
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Metacritic Score: 82%
The Last Guardian is a game that received some rather unfair criticism at launch, and that was purely down to the fact that this game was the spiritual successor to games like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, games that serve as ‘best games of all time’ list regulars. However, when the dust settled, many began to appreciate The Last Guardian for what it was, an ambitious action-adventure game documenting the relationship between man and beast.
The game sees you play as a young boy who has been kidnapped, and in an attempt to escape, he encounters Trico, a giant dog-like creature. Then begins your journey as you must interact, train, and build your relationship with this animal to escape the ancient ruins you find yourself trapped in.
This one is comparable to Stray because of the focus on the animal character, who may not be the playable protagonist, but is certainly given equal billing with the child protagonist. The game is also puzzle and exploration-focused, and the ancient setting, while not directly comparable with Stray, is largely absent of humans and is a fully realized and imaginative one.
The game is somewhat outdated, with mechanical issues, input issues, and camera issues throughout. However, if you can manage to weather the storm, you will come out the other end, having played one of the most awe-inspiring games of the PS3 era.
Then lastly, before I sign off, here are a few games that fell just short of the mark, didn’t have enough comparative factors to earn a spot, or perhaps had an animal protagonist but very little else of note. For further gaming suggestions like Stray, take a look below:
- I am Fish
- Goat Simulator
- Cat Quest
- Catlateral Damage
- Night in the Woods
- Never Alone
- The Last Campfire
- Innocence: A Plague’s Tale
- Spirit of the North
- Concrete Genie
- A Dog’s Life
Question: Is Stray Free?
Answer: No, Stray isn’t free, at least not right now anyway. The game is available for purchase on PS4/5 and PC. However, if you happen to be a PS Plus Extra subscriber, Stray is included in the game catalog, meaning that you can play this game, along with a wide variety of other top-tier titles, for the price of admission. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
Question: Can You Change Your Cat In Stray?
Answer: This was a question I asked before launch as I wanted to role-play as one of my real-life kitties. Sadly though, this is not possible as the cat model is not customizable in-game. However, if you are really keen to switch things up, there are tonnes of mods out there that allow you to alter the appearance of your cat in Stray. The most unsettling of which is the ability to change your cat to resemble CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Pure nightmare fuel.
Question: How Long is Stray?
Answer: The runtime of Stray is roughly four to five hours, depending on how much you want to see. If you are burning through the game at lightspeed, you can finish this game in about an hour and a half. In fact, there is even a trophy for completing this game in less than two hours.
Stray and Play a Little Longer
As you can see from this list of platforming, puzzle, and animal-based offerings above, just because you have seen all that Stray has to offer doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. There are so many cool games like Stray out there, each with its own quirks and charm.
Granted, Stray seems like a game out on its own in terms of quality and authenticity from the animal physics side of things, but while the rest of the developers catch up, these games above should tide you over.
We hope that this list has helped bulk out your gaming wishlist and as always, thank you for reading Indie Game Culture.