Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is one of the last titles I played in 2023. I couldn’t have expected it to make such a strong impression on me. I certainly wasn’t ready for it to be a negative impression.
I volunteered to review Stray Gods myself. The game seemed perfectly tailored to my taste: I like unusual indie projects, I have always been a fan of Greek mythology, and I had fun watching several mainstream musicals. Unfortunately, this title disappointed me in every aspect. First things first.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is too long a title
Let’s start with the fact that there are almost no RPG elements in Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, i.e. role playing. We play the role of the heroine and “direct” her story by choosing dialogue options. That’s it, nothing more. There is no other gameplay here, we might as well be watching an interactive movie, something like “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”.
However, before I get anyone interested, let me point out – this is not at that level at all. Here, from the very beginning, we have the impression that our choices mean nothing, the mythology is just a cover for the lack of ideas, and the characters have no depth and we start yawning even before the first hour has passed. Let us add that the whole thing takes 5-6 hours. Imagine a boring movie that you have to sit through for so long. Nightmare.
However, even from a seemingly uninteresting film, we can learn something: fix our eyes on interesting frames or focus on the acting. There is no mention of that here, because we get static boards with slightly changing facial expressions of the main characters. So it’s not even an interactive movie, just a slightly varied slide show… with occasional music.
An expensive ticket to a bad show
If the part of the subtitle promising roleplaying lies, the part promising a musical almost lives up to it. In fact, there are several short songs in the game. As much as the cat cried, but that’s not the worst. First of all, they are sung terribly. At many moments you get the impression that the actors are simply howling, having no resources to cope with the melodies, which were also composed as if randomly. It’s an artistic mess that tries to fool us by explaining it in a “musical” style.
On the positive side, I would mention nicely drawn characters and good voice actors (apart from singing, of course). But let’s be serious – there are thousands of nice and beautiful games that have not been successful. And even the biggest Hollywood stars could provide voices here – nothing saves this project as a game. But they’re not selling it to us as a radio play. The price of Stray Gods is as much as PLN 134. Of the 110 games I played on Steam this year, there really weren’t many that were more expensive. And I had more fun even with those for PLN 5 or PLN 10.
The reviewers applauded, but did not smile
I’m even more surprised that you can find mostly positive reviews of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical online. I read them carefully because they contrasted so strongly with my feelings. A lot of people on Steam pay attention to the cast and creators, so I conclude that it’s some community that has followed this project from the beginning and supported it so much that now it still focuses on the positives.
Almost all reviewers admit that it is not an RPG, but a visual novel. They point out that expectations should be lowered and use words like “unique experience” to avoid terms like “short”, “boring” or “money grab”. The biggest advantages include the music, which changes depending on our choices, various endings and plot combinations. Honestly, I can’t imagine playing this game more than once. This first approach requires a lot of determination and resistance to bland pulp.
Initially, I didn’t want to take this game so harshly. Calling something “the worst of the year” is a pretty strong statement. I told myself that maybe there was a certain audience that would even like Stray Gods. However, after seeing all these opinions online, I changed my thinking about my role. I should keep in mind those who are considering purchasing and may be disappointed. It will be useful to pluck the strings a bit and break this sweetly wailing melody from the elevator that lulls the audience and their vigilance. You can’t pretend you don’t hear false sounds, even if everyone around you is applauding.