Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review – So Anyway, I Started Singing

One of my first notes for my playthrough reads, “Yep. It’s a musical.” And for that, it is an extremely unique experience in the video game world. I laude the game makers for taking this path less traveled. Unfortunately, the singing elements were some of the weakest. The musical numbers feel incoherent at times, perhaps owing to the game’s impressive amount of choice — and I imagine it must have been a Herculean task to write lyrics and melody for every possible narrative branch.

But y’all. Stray Gods‘ murder mystery takes hold and doesn’t let go. I had to know what went down, who was involved, and why it took place. And that’s despite the fact I didn’t find the culprit’s reveal terribly shocking. I’m also a huge sucker for the incredibly personable, well-researched modern interpretations of the Classical Greek gods and the dreamy comic book-style.

Though I’m not a fan of entertainment that has its characters bursting into song out of nowhere, Stray Gods provides an excellent reason for this to happen. Our heroine, Grace, is a musically gifted individual who catches the eye of an actual Muse. Skipping over a few story spoilers, Grace finds herself in control of all the powers of her mythological admirer. And, of course, these powers coax — but never compel — those around her to spill their souls out in song.

It’s a really great skill to have if you need to solve a murder. Grace is equally blessed in the form of her lore-savvy bandmate, Freddie. So, players without a great knowledge of the ancient pantheon can lean on this endearing sidekick for information and myth-based clues. The two womens’ relationship is pitch perfect, whether you choose to make it romantic or not, and serves as a great pillar for the game.

And speaking of mythology, I want to geek out for moment. Everyone of the godly characters sports an emblem connected to their legendary roots in one way or another. One of my absolute favorite deep cuts is the back of the Oracle’s jacket.

You only see it for a moment, but it features the word python, which makes sense in-game because she’s all about computers. But one of the ancient world’s most famous soothsayers was the Pythia, the high priestess at Apollo’s temple at Delphi. It’s so good. It also show the team did a ton of homework on the game’s characters that shines through.

While I didn’t enjoy the musical acts owing sometimes to poor performances and others discordant arrangement, I looked forward to the time-based decisions made in those moments. Successfully choosing to provoke, assure, or empathize in these singing battles could win me powerful allies and details and the stakes always felt suitably high. Uncovering the truth, however, is ultimately more compelling than revealing it, but the conclusion remains satisfying.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical‘s most distinctive aspect, namely the singing, is my least favorite part of the experience. However, the game is music to my ears when it comes to molding contemporary forms around ancient gods and absolutely hits all the right notes with its murder mystery.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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