Rising up, musicals have been an enormous a part of my life, from performing Charlie & the Chocolate Manufacturing unit as an elementary scholar to co-writing a rendition of Romeo & Juliet as a modern-style musical for the native space. As an enormous musical theatre fan, the concept of a musical sport in Stray Gods is an thrilling thought.
Add on the truth that David Gaider, one of many lead writers for 2 of my favourite video games in Star Wars: Knights of the Republic and Dragon Age: Origins, is engaged on the venture as a part of his co-founded rookie indie studio Summerfall Studios, and it’s promising.
Stray Gods’ cinematic indie visible novel-style is exclusive, complementing beautiful 2D character designs with strong voice performing, and a typically skippable however nonetheless noteworthy soundtrack. The result’s an extremely distinctive journey sport the place your selections matter, the storytelling clicks, and the colourful characters carry the sport, even when the musical ingredient is a letdown.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical (PC [reviewed], Change, PS4/PS5, Xbox)Developer: Summerfall StudiosPublisher: Humble GamesReleased: August 10, 2023MSRP: $29.99
Stray Gods strikes at a brisk tempo throughout its opening moments, shortly introducing the protagonist of Grace, performed brilliantly by the fantastic Laura Bailey. These opening scenes are arguably a bit too quick, introducing a number of characters after which displaying Grace because the prime suspect within the homicide of a modern-day Olympic god.
The crux of this story facilities round Grace making an attempt to resolve a homicide thriller, to avoid wasting herself from being convicted by gods like Athena and Persephone earlier than it’s too late.
It simply so occurs, although, that Grace now has the facility of a muse and may principally flip any scene right into a musical. And that’s precisely what this story does over the course of the seven days Grace has to clear her identify.
Break a leg
To get it out of the best way, whereas I used to be excited at enjoying my first musical online game, the songs and performances don’t provide a lot to jot down dwelling about.
To Stray Gods’ credit score, there are a variety of songs. Sadly, this additionally means there’s a variety of filler and throwaway songs, particularly at first. You’ll be able to’t skip ahead, both, in contrast to the dialogue, which made the awkward transitions, lack of intriguing music, and sometimes arrhythmic strains all of the extra noticeable.
An enormous a part of this comes from the intriguing thought of letting you management the songs. Very like interacting with the characters, you can also make selections throughout musical moments. You may choose to go for the “cool” line in a scene, or be a bit extra heartfelt.
One other time, you would possibly select between a solo or doing a gaggle quantity. This versatile nature could possibly be the reason for among the inconsistency within the soundtrack, as the perfect musical numbers got here later within the story when the they have been fewer and farther between.
That isn’t to say that the soundtrack is terrible, as there are a few standout numbers. Two that come to thoughts are principally any time that Khary Payton’s Pan sings, and a memorable duel between Grace and Persephone that’s virtually the only real instance of the choice-driven songs understanding fairly effectively.
An ovation-worthy solid
However the musical components are solely a portion of the gameplay in Stray Gods. The remainder of the sport focuses on the core thriller and the legendary characters you meet alongside the best way. That is the place you possibly can actually see Gaider’s work, as these are the perfect characters I’ve seen in a very long time.
The participant has the choice to romance one in every of 4 individuals, every of which is excellent in their very own proper. Freddie is the basic informal greatest buddy who has a candy relationship with Grace. Alternatively, you could possibly go for Troy Baker’s troubled and miserable Apollo.
Every of those fascinating characters grew on me over time, giving some strong romance choices worthy of competing with a few of Gaider’s previous works. Even exterior of the romance companions, the opposite characters you meet have terrific and detailed writing.
Everybody has their secrets and techniques you uncover slowly over time, and it’s arduous to know who’s telling you the reality or what their agenda is. At its core, it is a character-driven story, and it consistently offers its solid memorable moments to work with.
Selections that matter
That is helped by the frequent selections you get to make within the dialogue. They appear to matter simply sufficient, corresponding to choosing who to facet with in arguments or what order to research leads in. There are even characters who dwell and die in stunning methods, relying on the alternatives you make.
Stray Gods has sufficient materials to garner not less than one replay, to see how issues might have gone otherwise. There are even some emotional sequences price experiencing once more, together with principally every part surrounding Aphrodite’s disturbing, unforgettable storyline.
The core thriller isn’t a throwaway, both, with layers of twists and conflicting agendas. Whereas it was a bit predictable in some areas, there was sufficient to maintain me engaged from begin to end.
There’s nothing like Stray Gods in any respect. The daunting process of making a complete interactive musical is an admirable one. Even when the songs have been largely a miss for me, I’d wish to see it tried once more.
In any case, you’ll discover among the most participating characters round since Gaider’s earlier stint at BioWare, and a worthwhile story on this sleeper hit. I do know I’ve my eyes on Summerfall Studios shifting ahead.[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]