Players are putting their own pets into ‘Stray,’ the cat video game
By Jonathan Lee
July 26, 2022 at 3:37 p.m. EDT
“Stray,” the video game about a nameless feral cat wandering through a city of robots, is one of the summer’s biggest surprise hits. Now, some players are modifying the game to add their own feline friends to its post-apocalyptic world.
Mods — short for modifications — are fan-made alterations to a video game that are done by rewriting or changing the game’s files. The simplest mods make cosmetic changes, such as changing the texture on a weapon to look nicer. But mods can also be wildly ambitious, sometimes ballooning into entirely new games. 2021’s “The Forgotten City,” an adventure set in ancient Rome, was originally a “Skyrim” mod.
On NexusMods, a site that hosts downloadable mods, there are already a number of options available to players seeking to change the look of “Stray’s” furry hero with different coats and eye colors. The site is flush with options for black cats, gray tabbies, calicoes and more, each already downloaded hundreds of times.
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Many of the modders who made those skins based them off their own cats. One creator added their green-eyed tuxedo cat, Maro, to “Stray.” The download page includes a real-life photo reference for maximum accuracy. Hi, Maro!
Another user, Narwhix, uploaded a mod to let gamers play as Sunny, their adorable calico. A blurry picture of the cat glaring down at the camera can be found on the listing.
Some modders have started taking requests from interested players. NexusMods user NorskPL, for example, created retextures of the “Stray” cat matching specifications shared by fellow users, and created a beginner’s tutorial for anyone interested in making their own cat mod. Another NexusMods user, Hacktix, uploaded skins of Sushi, Lilly, Luna and Buffy (all cats) in response to commissions from users.
For players looking for something more offbeat, there are also modifications that turn the nameless “Stray” hero into an adorable puppy or the lasagna-loving cartoon cat Garfield. One mod transforms Carl “CJ” Johnson, the protagonist of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” into a terrifying but nonetheless playable cat.
There are also mods that add quality-of-life improvements to “Stray,” such as button remapping, higher graphics settings, localizing the game’s language into Thai and a very rudimentary split-screen multiplayer mode. You can even modify the game’s six badges, a collectible players can find that are displayed on the cat’s harness, into pride pins.
“Stray,” released to near-unanimous praise from critics and fans, nails the feeling of being a cat — an unusual selling point for a video game. With its growing popularity, expect to see even more mods in the future, bringing all sorts of cute cat characters to virtual life.