Stray Gods official wallpaper
Game Reviews, Music, Video Games

Stray Gods: Cool Story, Meh Music

Being a big fan of musicals and Greek mythology, I recently picked up Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical thinking I would love it. Sadly, I was wrong.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

Stray Gods’ premise is promising: you play as Grace, a mortal who somehow gets entangled with the Idols (Greek gods who live among mortals). These Idols stay “immortal” by passing on their “eidolons” to a mortal they deem worthy of becoming their successor. When you somehow inherit the last muse’s eidolon, you also inherit her power to make people sing about their feelings.

The characters are pretty interesting, and I especially love the badass take on Persephone. Hades and Persephone’s story tends to be romanticized in modern-day versions, but this is honestly the first version I’ve come across where Persephone flat-out murders Hades and takes his throne.

Apollo has always been one of my favorite Greek gods, and I think it’s adorable that they made him a jaded old beach bum who simply refuses to button his shirt.

Grace meets the Chorus of gods: Persephone, Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite (from official Stray Gods press kit)

The lore and the story are fine, honestly. The voice cast’s speaking performances were amazing, too; I don’t think you can’t really go wrong when you have legends like Laura Bailey and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Anthony Rapp, and Troy Baker in the cast.

Buuuuuut… the songs were a very surprising letdown.

I don’t think this is a very popular opinion. I’ve actually seen so many comments and reviews praising Stray Gods‘ songs. And I tried my best to love the songs. I really did! But I just couldn’t.

I love a good musical, but I have not heard a single song in this musical that I liked. I find myself zoning out during musical numbers, wishing there was some way to make it go faster or skip them entirely. Sadly this game’s main weakness is its songs. A review I read on Steam captured my thoughts better than I can:

Unfortunately, as a musical theater fan, I was not feeling this one as much as I wanted to love it. The music was supposed to be the star of the show, but instead it was rambly and forgettable. Songs don’t stick to the same melody or genre for more than a few moments. In musical theater, typically when the emotion is too strong for words, the scene naturally turns to song. However, it feels like a lot of the songs existed in the build up to those explosive emotions. And that’s not to say conversational songs don’t exist in musical theater; look at Great Comet or literally anything by Sondheim. It more feels like the songs were created without the understanding of why those kinds of shows were successful at musical storytelling, the purpose the music served the narrative, how to connect each song to the larger story instead of letting it exist in isolation.

Review by Litvac on Steam
I really, REALLY wanted to like this.

I think I can also blame my inability to appreciate the songs from Stray Gods on Hazbin Hotel. I watched that damned series twice in a row and have had the songs on repeat for several weeks on end, and I get the feeling that I’ve been drawing very unfair comparisons. Hazbin Hotel also featured a very diverse cast of characters and musical genres but it somehow managed to put everything together cohesively. Unlike Stray Gods, which really sounded and felt like — pardon my Filipino —musical chopsuey.

I saw someone on Reddit mention that the songs are “weak”, and I think that’s also the best way I can describe them. None of them were impactful. Some of them were cringey, even.

For a game that touts itself as a “roleplaying musical”, it was so surprising to me that the songs felt so lacking and disjointed. And then toward the end, the audio mixing went way off, with the music overpowering the characters’ vocals. That’s a pretty major boo-boo for a game that’s supposed to be a musical.

When it comes to roleplaying games with choices like these, I tend to replay them to get the various endings. Sadly, with Stray Gods, as much as I enjoyed the story, characters, artwork, and overall voice acting… I don’t think I can bring myself to sit through all those songs again. I did finish the game ONCE just for the sake of seeing it through to the end. I’m actually quite satisfied with the ending and pairing Grace up with Apollo. I didn’t hate the entire ride; I really just wish the music was better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *