I am a fan of musicals of every kind. From Hamilton to La La Land to Bob’s Burgers, if the characters in your story burst into track, I am greater than probably on board. For this precise motive, Stray Gods: The Position-Taking part in Musical caught my eye, thrilling each my internal fan of musicals and my internal fan of video games. Regardless of some complaints about glitches and awkward songwriting in a couple of locations, developer Summerfall Studios harmonizes these ideas properly, placing on a present I can not assist however applaud.
In Stray Gods, you play as Grace, a lady accused of murdering a Muse, a magical being from historic Greece. On this world, these legendary figures are often called Idols, reincarnations of Greek gods which have died and handed their talents to people, granting them immortality and supernatural talents. As a result of Grace was there when the Muse died, she’s been gifted the ability of track and may compel individuals to sing their emotions in large, interactive musical numbers. I appreciated that there was an in-world motive for this, and located the worldbuilding as an entire to be easy, however recent. Variations of Greek fantasy are extraordinarily frequent in popular culture, however Stray Gods tells an unique sufficient story that the world stays distinctive.
The sport’s title refers to it as a “position-taking part in” musical, however that time period may be deceptive to some. There isn’t a gear, expertise, or leveling up – simply position-taking part in within the truest sense of the phrase by making choices as your model of Grace. Initially of the sport, you get to decide on one among three persona traits (Charming, Kickass, or Intelligent) that unlock completely different dialogue choices throughout conversations. Many of the gameplay consists of speaking with individuals and selecting what to say, both via talking, or when Grace decides to activate her powers via singing.
The songs are Stray Gods’ most spectacular achievement. As you hear every character sing, you get a listing of choices for reply in the course of the track. And whereas the sport offers you loads of time to select, this choice course of is timed with the music, so it’s a must to determine rapidly and together with your intestine. At first, this idea careworn me out, however as the sport continued, I grew to like it. I wasn’t plotting out the precise response I needed to have, I used to be actually position-taking part in and appearing as I believed Grace would. If that idea stresses you out or you will have another motive to keep away from fast choices, you’ll be able to disable timed selections within the settings menu, however I like to recommend taking part in with the timer for a greater expertise.
As you decide completely different choices, songs department out and evolve into completely new kinds, and have an effect on the story of the sport accordingly. Relying in your selections, completely different characters seem later within the story, whereas others would possibly dwell or die. In my first playthrough, I made a decision to be Charming and tried to empathize with most characters that I met. However on a second playthrough, I made a decision to check out the Kickass trait, because it was hardly ever a alternative I might have in any other case made. This time, the story was a little bit completely different, however primarily altered my relationship with different characters somewhat than the general plot. I did not thoughts this, because it nonetheless makes repeat playthroughs extra fascinating, however every path nonetheless has to information you to hit the identical songs.
Nonetheless, as soon as I reached these songs, the music was vastly completely different. I anticipated related notes with completely different lyrics and perhaps altered accompaniment, however I used to be delighted to see simply how basically songs can change. Some have been utterly unrecognizable; a tragic, hauntingly lovely track I might been trying ahead to after my first playthrough made an entire left flip and have become a rock track after I chosen a distinct choice. Experiencing these songs a second time round vastly improved my opinion of the sport. The adjustments are thrilling to find, and I preferred some songs far more after I picked completely different lyric choices.
After all, none of those songs or scenes can be fulfilling in any respect if the solid performing them wasn’t gifted, so I used to be glad to see they very a lot are. The credit are stuffed with seasoned voice actors, so I went in with excessive expectations, however was nonetheless impressed by how properly it was solid, particularly the aspect roles. Troy Baker does an incredible job as Apollo, however supporting characters like Anjali Bhimani’s Medusa, Erika Ishii’s Hermes, and Rahul Kohli’s Asterion have been highlights each time I encountered them.
The solid is led by Laura Bailey’s Grace, and whereas she by no means drops the ball whereas appearing, there have been a couple of situations the place I believed her skillset as a singer did not precisely match the songs she was singing. In some songs, like in an early confrontation with Persephone, sure alternatives trigger Grace to slide right into a quicker, rap-like cadence. She’s phenomenal at belting and singing extra typical Broadway-model songs, however when issues get too quick she’s positively out of her factor. It is exhausting to say if it is the lyricism of the part or Bailey’s discomfort with the model, however these moments fell in need of the usual the remainder of the sport was in a position to obtain. Fortunately, the sport’s design permits you to pivot away from part of a track you do not like – simply choose a distinct colour on the subsequent choice path and listen to a brand new model you would possibly favor.
My largest supply of grievance, nevertheless, is various recurring glitches. One is the sport’s occasional tendency to begin a voice line a cut up second into the primary phrase, making a jarring clipping impact. It occurred most frequently with Freddie’s traces, which additionally different in quantity to an odd diploma, talking a lot louder or softer than her scene companions. On a couple of events, I additionally seen character fashions disappearing for a line or two of dialogue, and at one level throughout my second playthrough, I needed to repeat a whole dialog with Pan in a distinct location, instantly after ending the earlier one. Hopefully, these points are mounted sooner or later.
Whereas these glitches did detract from my expertise, they removed from ruined it. General, Stray Gods rocks. Between the solid’s improbable performances, a enjoyable twist on Greek mythology, and a genuinely novel sport mechanic, it is a sport I did not know I wanted, however one I am blissful to offer a standing ovation to.
For extra Stray Gods, take a look at our unique reveal of the opening track, together with our behind-the-scenes have a look at how the music was written.