Stray has completely taken over the internet, with seemingly everyone on my timeline currently playing the futuristic feline adventure. But one YouTuber has taken what is, to most folks at least, a fairly chill cat game and made it much harder by figuring out a way to beat the entire game without taking any damage.
After a few years of hypo and trailers, cat simulator Stray was released last week on PS5 and PC to rave reviews and lots of online love. People have quickly begun modding the game and have been sharing screenshots of the game’s gorgeous city, along with videos of them just being silly little cats. But while many players were leisurely exploring the richly dense world of Stray, YouTuber Hayate Bahadori was spending hours and hours practicing and perfecting a way to beat the game without taking damage or dying.
According to Bahadori, it took nearly 20 hours of practice and attempts to pull off his July 23 no-damage run of Stray on PC. If you’ve played Stray, you likely already know what most of his time went into: avoiding all those little, annoying Zurk creatures. In fact, Bahadori says the hardest part of the entire run happens early on during the first “Zurk Run” in the game, the same one tied to an achievement named “Can’t Cat-ch Me.”
“This [first run in Chapter 2] is the hardest one due to the density of Zurks and how tight the area is you’re moving through,” Bahadori told Kotaku.
There are a total of three Zurk Runs in Stray, and while they are slightly easier than the first one you encounter, all three cause problems and can end a no-damage run. And Bahadori’s rules state that if any of these little buggers merely touches the cat, then it’s game over and he has to completely restart the run. Because most of Stray is devoid of danger, it’s these Zurk Runs that are the main barrier to beating the whole game without harming a single hair on the cat’s head.
“This run basically boils down to the Zurks,” said Bahadori.”Once you get past them, with the exception of the escape from the jail, the run is simple.”
While a later game threat appears in the form of sentinels, the YouTuber explained that those are fairly easy to sneak around. So it all comes down to mastering how to dance by all those annoying Zurks.
“You really need to understand how the Zurk AI functions and how to trick it into doing what you want,” Bahadori said. “Understanding the AI and how to move through the areas does not automatically guarantee success since there is a large RNG component in the way the Zurks spawn around you.”
One key technique he developed during his attempts was moving left and right rapidly, as this move seems to throw the AI NPCs for a loop and can help you sneak by without getting touched.
If it seems like Bahadori is very, very good at beating Stray without taking damage, it probably helps that this is something he does a lot. A lot of his videos on YouTube are dedicated to showing people how he finishes games like God of War and Spider-Man without taking damage or dying. Earlier this year, he pulled off the amazing feat of beating all the mainline Assassin’s Creed games without taking a single point of damage.
For Bahadori, he does this not just because he enjoys breaking apart game systems and mastering them, but he also says he loves getting a chance to teach folks how to do what he does and is always excited when people ask him questions about his runs.
“I’m a Simulation Engineer in real life,” explained Bahadori. “[I] very much enjoy the process of breaking apart games through gameplay to figure out how the game was coded and where I can bend the games AI and systems to pull off these types of runs.”
While he is done with Stray at this point, he’s now figuring out how to beat even more games without taking damage. He’s currently working on the Batman Arkham series and has plans to run future games, including Gotham Knights and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.