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Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Preview

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Preview

Thanks to Steam Next Fest, my games library is teeming with demos for upcoming puzzlers, cosy life sims, thrilling survival horror titles, and, at long last, an interactive musical that I’ve been excited about ever since this year’s Humble Bundle Showcase! Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is developed by Summerfall Studios with the legendary David Gaider as its Creative Director, bringing 17 years of BioWare-honed narrative experience to this unique project. The demo features four fully orchestrated musical numbers set during different points in the story, showing off a variety of song styles and giving us comedy, tragedy, and hints of romance, all within 30 minutes of playtime. If you’re a former theatre kid who loves the drama and spectacle of performing on stage, you’ll feel right at home with Stray Gods, and if you’re like me — a theatre reject who bombed every audition — you can finally shed your stage fright, step up to the mic, and shine in the spotlight!

Stray Gods follows Grace, a college dropout who is feeling rather adrift and lost in her life. Is her place with her band and long-time friends, or is there some other path to take? Well, you know what they say, life is unpredictable and it can change in an instant; sometimes that means your chill, ordinary evening goes very, very wrong when you inherit godly powers from a Muse who dies in your arms, throwing you into a hidden world of Greek gods who all suspect you’re the murderer. You don’t know who did it, but you do know the Chorus wants you to pay the final price — death. But of course, there will be a trial, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from the God of War series, it’s that Grace’s journey of hope and self-discovery will surely be full of drama and adventure as she embarks on an investigation to prove her innocence.

Stray Gods The Chorus

In a choose-your-own-adventure fashion, you’ll unfold Grace’s story through dialogue-heavy scenes and songs, selecting her responses and questions. Throughout the demo, most important conversations are conducted through song, allowing you to select lyrical options from three of Grace’s traits: Charming, Kickass, and Clever. Whereas a Charming Grace is likeable and smooth, the Kickass trait shows us a bold, reckless Grace with punk rock accompaniment. Choosing Clever, on the other hand, is a sneakier and smarter approach to certain situations. I’m always drawn to the more agreeable dialogue options in RPGs, so I primarily gravitated to Charming choices, but after replaying the demo a few times, I can undoubtedly say that Kickass yielded some of my favourite interactions, and I’m excited to see more in the full release! Not only do these dialogue choices change the tune and lyrics of the musical number, but they’ll also affect the availability of later choices and your relationships with other characters, leading you down various narrative paths and endings, including possible romances.

For the first musical number of the demo, your in-song choices aren’t timed as Grace engages in a brief, heartfelt duet with the mysterious Calliope, but later on, there will be a bar below your dialogue wheel, depleting quickly as time passes by. This adds some intensity to the mechanic and you need to make choices on the fly, such as deciding between Grace’s best friend, Freddie, or the alluring newcomer, Pan, to help you find the killer — or perhaps you decide to perform an epic solo and forge your way alone. I mean, you are the main character, after all; why not embrace it? Though I would have liked more time to contemplate my choices, I imagine that one of the many tricky things about making a videogame musical is designing the songs and player choices to blend together seamlessly without creating awkward breaks in the music, so this timer makes perfect sense to keep every element of the performance flowing together to the beat.

Stray Gods Pan and Freddie

The demo closes with a reflective duet sung by Grace and the Greek god Apollo, one of the members of the Chorus who may or may not have something to do with the murder. The song itself is gripping, as are all the other ones featured in the demo, with poignant lyrics in some and catchy choruses getting stuck in your head in others. Summerfall Studios has brought together a stellar musical team along with an all-star cast of voice actors, making it feel like you’ve just sat down to watch a Broadway show. It was especially great to hear the voices of The Last of Us'’ Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, and Ashley Johnson again in a brighter world sans Infected running amok.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical sold me on Grace’s story by the end of the first song; she’s so compelling, and I’m excited to uncover the various endings for her story. Tonally, it seems like there’s a careful balance of serious overtones with a touch of upbeat, comedic undertones, and it never strays far from its earnest exploration of healing and finding yourself. Overall, it’s difficult to compare it to other titles because it feels truly unique. I honestly hope this is the start of a thriving interactive roleplaying musical genre because I could use more games like this in my life. If you love character-driven narratives, Greek tragedy, and, most importantly, dramatic solos under the spotlight, be sure to give this game a try!

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long! Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is set to launch soon on 3rd August 2023 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Staff Writer

Alyssa is great at saving NPCs from dragons. Then she writes about it.

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