Stray Makes the Best use of the DualSense on PS5
When stray was first announced back in 2020, it had already made an impression on fans due to the concept of controlling a lovable cat through a dark, robotic city. However, now that the game is finally in players' hands, especially thanks to it being available on PS Plus Extra, many are beginning to realize how titles can be deliberately designed for the PS5 and its dualsense controller.
While Stray is available for PC and PS4 in addition to PS5, the most recent PlayStation console may be the best way to experience the new indie darling. Even if the overall experience is short, there are moments that use the new features of the DualSense controller to immerse players more than most other titles on the PS5.
How the DualSense Elevates the Previous DualShock
With the PS5 having been out for more than a year and a half, the advertising hype for how the new controller functions has died down a bit. So, as a reminder, the boasting point of the DualSense is that it brings Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers to next-gen gaming, offering a more immersive feel to gameplay. The DualSense features are still used as a selling point for some games like F1 22, and as long as developers take a note from how Stray utilizes this new technology, it could still be a major draw for PS5 owners.
It should also be noted that the DualSense works on PC as well, meaning that regardless of system, the PS5's controller is still the best way to play a title like Stray. This does mean that the PS5 itself isn't entirely necessary for the best gaming experience with the DualSense, but it will likely be the system that gets more major updates faster. Regardless, the Haptic Feedback is the main feature in Stray that makes the indie darling stand out against even AAA titles for being developed with the DualSense specifically in mind.
Stray's Cat Interactions with the DualSense
The first and most obvious way that players will likely feel the direct interaction between Stray and the DualSense is in the way that the meow mechanic work. Similar to the older DualShock controllers, the built-in speaker in the DualSense makes an appearance for some more gimmicky moments on PS5, including Stray‘s meow. As many players looking to pick up Stray‘s trophies like “A Little Chatty” will notice, the meow from the cat comes through the controller's speaker as well as the more traditional audio system. However, that's only scratching the surface of these interactions.
One of the most noticeable interactions comes from the various areas where the player can sit and rest, at a certain point waiting in one of these locations for at least an hour on the path to getting Stray‘s Platinum trophy. While these resting locations can already be adorable and peaceful, the Haptic Feedback on the DualSense lets the player feel and hear the cat purring as it sleeps, sounding and feeling kind of like a snore. For the players whose major draw is the cuteness of the cat itself, the additional feedback layers on how adorable the game can get with not only a sleeping kitten, but also having it literally purr in their hands.
Of course, the Haptic Feedback isn't the only feature that is highlighted by Stray‘s integration of the DualSense controller into gameplay. The Adaptive Triggers even get a chance to shine with the scratching segments, some of which are actually necessary in order to progress through Stray‘s Slums chapter and even the end of the game. These give a realistic resistance to digging claws into carpets and wooden posts, letting the player really feel the act of scratching like a cat.
How Immersion Impacts Stray
Immersion is a tough topic for games, as the concept can often be lifted to being the most important aspect of titles that boast realistic graphics or dynamic weather. However, while immersion shouldn't make or break a game to the point that Easter Eggs and jokes are seen as a detriment, this is one place that Stray excels. It's this immersion that leads players to explore Stray‘s world and discover the secrets hiding within the city and the memories of the robotic companion B12.
In this way, maintaining the immersion through the DualSense controller only helps to put the player deeper into the cat's perspective as they explore the Stray‘s humanless Walled City. This compounds with the low camera that sees the companions as giants, and tight spaces that only the protagonist cat can fit through. So, everything winds up coming together in order to take the player out of the perspective of a human and into what might be the world's smartest cat.
Where Other PS5 Exclusives Measure Up
To claim that other PS5 exclusives failed to utilize the DualSense controller might be going a step too far, considering the list of titles currently on the system. One terrific example of the Adaptive Triggers comes from another PS Plus Extra title, Returnal, with the pull of the triggers effecting normal and special shots from different weapons. So, it can't be understated how the DualSense controller has already made games feel better to play, without the additional upgrades that came from the transition from PS4 to PS5.
All of that being said, the use of Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers in recent games usually comes off as “form over function”, acting as a nice addition rather than a fully integrated part of gameplay. Considering that the gameplay in Stray is simplified down to little more than running, jumping, and meowing, it means that integrating the functions of the DualSense is a simpler task as well. This allows for Stray to lean more into immersion and better put the player into the intended perspective in a way that most AAA titles don't have the luxury to explore. It's ultimately a series of smaller additions to the game that makes Stray a necessary gaming experience for any players who have access to a DualSense on either PC or PS5.