Whether you’re into Cats or Hairspray, there’s a musical out there for everyone. Some people will protest and say that these singing and dancing spectacles aren’t for them, but I’m almost certain that these heathens just haven’t found the one for them. We don’t really get musical video games though, outside of maybe a couple of rhythm games like PaRappa the Rapper. Well that’s all about to change, thanks to Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical.
Grace is just your everyday twenty something drifting through life, struggling to see what she should focus on next. She’s in a band with her best friend Freddie, but even that creative endeavour is currently in a state of flux. Hoping that a new band member will help them grow, the game starts with the group holding auditions. It’s not a particularly successful evening, until Grace meets Calliope anyway.
This mysterious young woman arrives just as the rest of the band has gone home, and catches Grace singing mournfully about life. Calliope gets on stage to show off her singing, and to Grace’s surprise she ends up joining in with the song. Turns out this is because Calliope is actually a Greek God living among humans, and has magical musical powers. She’s not the only God living in the city either, which Grace ends up finding out when Calliope rushes into her apartment wounded and dies in her arms.
When Calliope passes away, Grace is summoned to meet The Chorus. This group of four gods is led by Athena, and they’re the ones who make sure that the other beings of mythological origin are coping okay in the real world. They’re pretty much convinced that Grace is the one who murdered Calliope (because admittedly she was caught with red hands) and are about to sentence her to death when Apollo speaks up and says the situation is unfair. After a brief argument the gods agree to give Grace a week to find Calliope’s real killer, and so begins an almost impossible quest.
Grace does have one thing that might help her in the case though, Calliope’s powers. Because she was with her when she died Grace is now the next musical Idol, and can get people to reveal their true feelings through the medium of song. This means you’ll be making a whole lot of gods sing about their problems, and eventually might even be able to figure out whodunit.
For the most part these songs are enjoyable, but I think due to the fairly miserable existence of a lot of the gods there are a few too many slow sad songs. They’re balanced out by some bangers though, from duets with Medusa while she’s trying to bite your face off to a slightly silly confession of love from a minotaur.
You have the ability to influence these songs too, by picking from multiple choices that correspond to either Charm, Anger or Knowledge. As the game progresses you’re allowed to change Grace’s personality based on these three options, and use your traits to choose different conversation options. I made my Grace particularly feisty, and because of that ended up with all sorts of fun scenarios like upstaging Persephone with some particularly scathing rapping.
Outside of the musical numbers the gameplay is pretty much just your standard multiple choice conversations. You’ll be able to choose which gods you want to side with, who you don’t trust, and even who you fancy getting a bit romantic with. The characters are great too, so getting to interact with them in different ways is always entertaining. I enjoyed getting to make these decisions about my relationships with the gods, but on the whole it never really felt like my choices influenced the overarching plot. Maybe there are more differences in new playthroughs than it seems, but I can’t imagine the key scenes and songs changing personally.
My other issues with Stray Gods might seem small, but in a full playthrough they start to grate on you. The worst of these is selecting where to go on the map, which is a nightmare. Even after completing the game I never really understood what direction I needed to move the stick to select various locations, and it was always frustrating. The audio levels between characters vary massively too, which means you’ll either struggle to hear what some characters say or will have to deal with them shouting constantly. That little bit of polish in a few areas would improve the game loads, and hopefully some patches could help with that down the line.
I should also mention the visuals, which take a bit of getting used to. The characters don’t actually move and animate, and instead just sort of change positions as the dialogue plays out (like in last year’s As Dusk Falls). It’s quite unusual, but after a few minutes I found myself rather enjoying the comic book vibes of the game.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical tells an engaging story with plenty of singing and dancing along the way. The setting is really interesting, and the godly characters you meet are a joy to interact with. It has a few issues with sound levels and some songs are a little slow for my taste, but this is one musical adventure that’s well worth singing along to.
An entertaining musical with some great songs
Getting to choose how the songs play out is a blast
The setting and characters are fantastic
Lovely comic book style visuals
Some songs are a bit slow and dull
Has issues with sound levels
Navigating menus is a nightmare
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