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Stray Gods

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review – An Interesting Take on the Narrative Adventure

Has there ever been a videogame that’s also a musical before? We don’t think so, and that makes Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical even more alluring. Though while a barrage of musical numbers do feature in this narrative-driven adventure, it’s the story at its core that that keeps you playing.

In Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical you’re thrown into the shoes of Grace, a college dropout. Disillusioned with life, we first meet her as auditions are being held to join her band. And that’s when she first meets Calliope, who wanders in and inspires her with an impressive vocal performance. It’s just a shame that the next time the pair meet Calliope is at death’s door.

We’re not quite sure what’s more surprising for Grace: that she’s accused of murdering Calliope, or that she’s now the last Muse. But, made aware that the Greek Gods are indeed real and walk among us humans, she has a new problem: she has been sentenced to death. Needless to say, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical finds you trying to prove your innocence. Though it’s not at all easy while also trying to get your head around the fact that Gods are real and also somewhat unhelpful.

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Anyone that has played a narrative adventure game in the last decade shouldn’t find the gameplay of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical all that surprising. As the story unfolds, you’re given frequent dialogue options, and while you can’t freely explore environments, you can sometimes choose to investigate objects or commence conversation via a menu. What does stand out here, though, is Grace’s power as the last Muse: she can make people open up via singing.

Related: 20 Best Story-Driven Games on PS4 and PS5

At key points in the game, Grace will use her powers in order to bend the situation to her will, instigating a musical number. Grace can then guide these songs as she sees fit, whether it’s to gain information, or simply win someone over. The lyrics to these songs, then, are not set in stone, changing on the fly depending on what options you choose. For that, we take our hats off for the developer, Summerfall Studios.

Things get even more complicated when you also factor in the present of Traits. You’ll select one of these when you first start Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, and it will affect which dialogue options are available to Grace at times. You can choose to be direct and aggressive, for example, or more reserved and thoughtful. Later in the game you’ll be able to choose a second trait, too, further opening up your options.

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It’s just a shame that, being called Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, that the musical aspect of the game didn’t really make that much of an impact on us. With a list of voice actors that includes the likes of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Troy Baker, Khary Payton and Laura Bailey, the vocals certainly aren’t the problem. For us, it’s rather the lack of catchy hooks and choruses – we never found any of the songs stuck in our heads after hearing them.

Some may consider it damning, that a game focused around being a musical doesn’t impress on that front, but the truth is Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical remains quite captivating nonetheless. The art on offer here is constantly a pleasure to look at, though we would have preferred a bit more animation. But what really won us over is the story.

We love a good mystery, and unravelling the details surrounding the death of Calliope had us hooked from the get-go. It helps that your choices here feel like they have real impact as well. While a single playthough is likely to take around 5-6 hours, chances are you’ll want to play through it a few times to discover all outcomes while perhaps romancing a number of the Gods.

It’s a shame that the songs in Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical didn’t have quite the impact on us that we hoped, but it might not be the case for everyone. Still, while we won’t be rushing to listen to its soundtrack on any streaming platforms, we’ve very much enjoyed our time with the game, and we’ll no doubt be returning to it for another playthrough or two in the future.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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