Stray Gods aims to make you the star of your own musical

When a game is billed as a “Narrative RPG Musical” - like the upcoming Stray Gods by Summerfall Studios is - would watching a musical performance count as a gameplay preview? If what we were told during Humble Games’ in-person event “Myth and Music: A Night with Stray Gods” at all hashes out in-game as it did on the stage, it will be interesting to see if such a mash-up will even work in practice. One thing is for sure; I’m interested to see more. I’ll be sure to check out next month’s demo.

The venue itself was the El Rey Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles; while the event was originally meant to be hosted by Jesse Cox, Troy Baker ended up taking the stage instead. Throughout the night we were hosted to many details about the game’s development; the conceits that were necessary in order to get narrative choices tied to evolving songs, and how these choices will even work in practice. They’re color-coded - Red choices are more forceful, angry. Green are empathetic, appealing to emotion. Blue attempts to outsmart whoever your “opponent” in the specific song is.

To illustrate exactly how this should work in practice, and how songs might turn out radically different depending on the choices you make, one specific song was performed twice - with different branches chosen each time. Any time a choice was made lights above the stage would illuminate in the color of the choice made. Indeed, the song was very different both times it was performed; it’s almost impossible to call it the same song, even, and sound director Austin Wintory must’ve certainly had his work cut out for him preparing these songs, both inside and outside of the game.

One especially interesting note from the night was about how these songs, themselves, were actually made; since they can branch so much, the vocals were recorded in small chunks, with only a small piano diddy accompanying them; later on the rest of the song was composed around these chunks, and the end result is fascinating to behold. It’s certainly an ambitious process, and as described by the team - it’s no real surprise that nobody else had attempted such a thing before.

Which, of course, makes me wonder how things will feel once put together in-game. It’s one thing to see a rehearsed execution of these songs in person; it will be another thing entirely to see how the piecemeal approach to these songs, alongside the editing, will work out in practice. If the experiment works, not only does Stray Gods have the potential to be a truly unique and special RPG; but the replayability of seeing how the tone of the game, and the songs composing it, might just be a thing to behold.

Stray Gods is turning out to be an utterly ambitious RPG, and one to keep an eye out for. What the developers and talent have shared about what they’re attempting here has me incredibly excited to get my hands on with it; even if it’s tough to visualize exactly how this all might work in the game itself.