I’ve played dozens of visual novels and narrative adventures in my time, and I’ve still never experienced anything like Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. It’s a game that delivers its branching narrative through song rather than the spoken word, boasting a talented cast of voices from Laura Bailey and Troy Baker to Ashley Johnson, Felicia Day and Rahul Kohli. For the most part, it’s a wonderfully engaging adventure—even if it is unfortunately let down at points by a lack of attention to detail.
Stray Gods drags Greek mythology into the modern-day world, putting you in the shoes of college dropout Grace as she finds herself intertwined with gods like Apollo, Aphrodite and Athena after receiving the powers of Calliope, the world’s final Muse. Thing is, she gets these powers because Calliope has been straight-up murdered, somehow finding her way to Grace’s doorstep to pass her gift on before dying.
(Image credit: Summerfall Studios)
Every choice feels completely distinct, too. I especially appreciated that nothing ever felt too black-and-white, no choice morally superior. It means that some of Stray Gods’ more narrative-swaying moments generate some genuinely tough decisions, and I’m already excited to go back and do things differently to see what would happen instead. I’m normally a heavy dialogue skipper but I was mostly happy to sit there and soak every word, even combing through every optional path just to learn more about the game’s world.
Be warned though that if you’re wanting to skip dialogue, it’s another thing that’s oddly inconsistent in Stray Gods. Sometimes hitting the skip dialogue key would speed ahead to the next line, as I expected. Other times it would cut out entire chunks of dialogue between characters, skipping over important story beats. I’m not quite sure if it’s working as intended, but it made me hesitant to do any skim-reading and utilise the skip dialogue function as a result.
It’s a shame that Stray Gods has these rough edges, because it’s a wonderfully unique experience full of heart. It just needs a little more cleanup, some focus dedicated to its sound mixing and perhaps a touch more attention to a few of its cast members to really shine. If you can look beyond a slightly erratic presentation, you’ll find one of the most endearing visual novels that’s released in the last few years.