It is time to ask the question, again, about how the Greek Gods would handle things in modern times with the release of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. This is a new choose-your-own-adventure style game from Summerfall Studios that also mixes in some musical theater into the mix. It is rather there in the name of the game along with some roleplaying aspects. Given the subject matter of Stray Gods, you know that I was ready to be all-in on this game when it dropped on August 9th for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. So, here we go with the review of the game and just how well it all works out in the long run of it all.
Grace thought things were just going business as usual while holding tryouts for new members to join the band. Some good, some bad, but none really hit that mark. Until Calliope stepped in and caught Grace's ear. Sadly, all did not end well with this chance meeting with Grace being accused of Caliope's murder, the Greek Gods coming down and giving Grace seven days to prove her innocence, and then to add in Grace now has the powers of the dead Muse. Now Grace has to navigate this new world while trying to find all of the evidence that she did not commit the crime. All with the power to cause everyone around to burst into song and dance.
Before I go into anything deeper when it comes to gameplay mechanics, I am going to have to rail on the UI for Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. As a choice to go with the comic styles and fonts is nice, I do not know how many times I was not able to select the basic menu options in the game. Most of the time, I just stuck to the base option that was available to let the game just walk me on through instead of taking time to go how I wanted to go. This is most likely only an issue on the console versions of Stray Gods, since it feels like just point and clicking would be able to fix this, but when it is launching on all platforms, that is something that needs to be ironed out early on.
Moving away from that, one of the core elements of the roleplaying side in Stray Gods is that we get to select aspects of Grace's personality at the start of each act. These are like ability traits that line up with Charisma, Wisdom, or Strength. More or less. The issue I kept getting into, since I selected Wisdom from the start, is that there always seem to be many other special options to select in songs and dialog based on the option you did not choose. This is not a case of "buyer's remorse" either in Stray Gods, as later on once I selected my second ability, almost all of the extra options were based around the one that I had not selected yet. I get offering them up to tease the player with how things might play out differently the next time, but it never felt like I got any bonus from selecting the ones that I did. Something that made me not want to go back and try a different path.
Lastly, some of the story pacing in Stray Gods is slow and almost feels pointless when leading to the main narrative. Not that these are side missions of any sort, but part of the story you have to play through even though none of the outcome has anything to do with the bigger murder plot. Like, why do we have to go make Aphrodite not want to commit suicide to get information, when she is one of the few gods offering up answers from the start? It felt like it was more to have one more musical number in Stray Gods which just brought to the same ending it was always going to bring. This is just one of those events in the game that feel like it was padded on and more of an afterthought since they got a massive voice cast for the game.
Dovetailing from that, I am going to have to fully applaud the voice actors and their singing abilities in Stray Gods here. That and the musical performances by everyone else involved in the game. Many of the songs were catchy and ended up living rent-free in my head for days after I finished the game. They were mostly well-written and then had the vocals to help back it up while offering up some amazing visuals in the mix too. It makes sense that these aspects are in the title of Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical as it does shine very well and you need to know it is in here. Even just listening to the soundtrack later on is a fun thing, even if you do not get to dictate how those versions of the song play out.
Even though I am not a huge fan of all of the stories and myths being told in Stray Gods here, as they skew some of the real stories, I was a fan of what they were doing here in general. Like turning the Minotaur into a character closer to the Beast from Beauty & The Beast or giving Medusa something different to do instead of just turning others to stone. Hells, pun intended, Persephone running a nightclub called The Underworld gave me quite a chuckle too while also making it all fit with the version of the goddess they were portraying here. As you will see in my playthrough below, I wanted to know more about all of them and see what brought the changes into the new world of it all. I only wished that the UI would have made it easier to navigate back to later.
To bring it all to a close here, I was also a fan of the way the "combat" through singing played out in Stray Gods too. To be clear, this is not like a solid fight or anything of that sort, but more of a combat of wits or wills to be played out based on the lyrical choices made in the song. Like opting to use a line that will do nothing but for the other singer to realize how they are looking at everything wrong or get them into a corner where they need to divulge information to keep the song going. It was a clever twist to things and is perfectly mentioned many times through the game that this is how the Muse always managed to keep things going. So, while fitting for the type of game that Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is, it is also a fun little mix-up to the genre of games it is all based around too.
I really and truly did enjoy all of my time with Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical that I was able to have in the mix here. Even with some of the UI issues and some of the extra filler that was bloating the runtime, it was still a fun experience to have. I do wish that there was more of a reason to go back and replay the game multiple times over, but that feels like it will be a bit more frustrating than fun once you know how the story all goes. It would change some of the songs and who you side with in the game, sure, but going through all of Stray Gods again just to see that just is not for me. One playthrough Is fully recommended and if you do not have the funds to do that, we will share all of our plays on our YouTube so you can appreciate the art of it all the very least.
I give Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical 9 Eidolons on the Eidolon scale.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical — Hades Plays Act 1 [PS5 Gameplay]
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical was developed by Summerfall Studios and published by Humble Games for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on August 9th, 2023. A PlayStation copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.