What Occurred To B12 And The Cat?

A cat prepares to jump between two pipes in Stray.

screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

Lost, a mostly excellent post-apocalyptic adventure game about a cat. Two of us at my box recently drive through his puzzleswearing a dense, mysterious post-apocalyptic environments and generally enjoy outdoor living the power-fantasy of role-playing cat. Then we hit the credits. Of course, we had to talk.


Ari Note: John, we are both done Lost. Tell me: Did the end land for you? Or did it detract from what made the rest of the game so great?

John Walker: I knew we were just a whisker away from a punt. No, I would say my experience on Lost which was a straight diagonal line, starting high, and then going lower and lower to a terrible end.

Ari: I’m not the same—more of a high plateau that quickly fell off a cliff at the end—but I totally agree, that ending is terrible. I had to warn people IRL: It’s so sad!

John: And yet, I’ve had so many people so furiously tell me off for suggesting the ending completely forgotten THE WHOLE REASON I WAS PLAYING THE GAME. But I think a lot of this is willing to admit that the nice cat sim has long been another yet another gray third-person robot game, so defenses against reality are already very high.

Spoilers follow for Lost.

A yellow flag prevents readers from accidentally seeing spoilers about the end of Stray.

Ari: Ah, yes, that blog kinda rubbed some people’s fur on the back, didn’t it? But yeah, the whole reason to play Lost It’s quite simple: You want to reunite the cat with its friends. And you go through this whole episode – including those robot shooting sections, the merits of which we disagree but in a way that I fully respect your opinion – but without even an inkling that he sees his friends again. It’s a very strange ending for a game that is so concerned with hope.

John: They’re not even just friends, are they? They are siblings who love each other. They are an abandoned litter of kittens, survivors of an apocalypse, and then one of their number falls. That sets up a game that is, of course, specifically focused on the return of your brothers and sisters. And instead it’s like they forgot completely. They got stuck in some pointless and meaningless sacrifice.

B-12 speaks while hovering over a computer in Stray.

screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

Ari: Yes! For a game about a cat, it was too caught up in the drama around a person. Do you buy that B-12 is really the last living person? And more importantly, did you buy that he would suddenly turn tail (sorry, I can’t help it) and decide, in a matter of minutes, that the whole trail of humanity isn’t worth following?

John: Well, it’s human consciousness trapped in a machine. This is one small city area, so for all we know millions of people could be living happily elsewhere in China, or Sweden, or Bangladesh, or Australia. And none of this explains the reasoning behind his “sacrifice.” Obviously he uploads his vision to the computer, so there’s no sacrifice anyway, but then, what was his purpose? To release a cat, a creature that has no interest in anything other than itself, back outside, what? What is the goal? If it was the end of humanity, as the game would like to imply, he did it so he could…let the cat out?

Ari: Aw, man, no way, the cat has definitely evolved into pure self-interest! (My own cat should notice.) In the prison scene, for example, he’s escaping with Clementine, and then he’s like, “Meow, meow meow meow, meow,” which I believe translates to , “We can’t leave yet. We must mount a dangerous operation and rescue my friend B12, who is trapped in this cage protected by lasers and laser-shooting robots.”

John: I was very confused in the world about whether I was supposed to buy into the cat to understand what B-12 was saying, or as with my own cats, just staring at where it comes from the noise, and then hoping that food is on the way. I played it like a game where an uninterested cat keeps accidentally flipping the right switches, or bumping into the right person.

But all this aside, I would have forgiven any lonely faux-sacrifice nonsense if, at the end, my cat had appeared in the sunlight to hear, from the camera directly, a surprised, “Mew?!” That’s it. That was all I needed. I didn’t need to see them come together, to watch them fall apart. I just needed to know it was about to happen.

Ari: Just! And I kinda get what they were going for, leaving the finale open so as not to tie the story neatly to the audience. But all he needed was the slightest suggestion that a happy ending might happen—that’s what a little off-screen “meow” would do.

John: The strangest thing is that they did such a “Maybe!” ended. Except it was because of the bloody person! We found that computer light on, which I can only assume meant B-12 was still alive.

Ari: So what does that mean for the sequel? All robot-shooty parts, no cute cat stuff?

John: I of course hope they don’t make a sequel. They are a talented bunch, though Lost they revealed that they had no idea what to do with the idea they had. I’d either like to see their next fresh idea, or just focus on the cat sim that everyone wanted in the first place. God, those microscopic observations they showed near the beginning. And the joyful moment when the cat puts on the ridiculous saddle first. We had to put one of our kittens in a protective sock after she was stung, and she did the same, just falling out like a building was on top of her. To achieve those details so neatly, we were delighted. Which ends up being some boring robot that maybe didn’t kill itself for the craziest reason ever.

Ari: Poor kitty! Please tell me you have photos of that.

John:

A cat wearing a jacket rolls around on a carpet.

photo: my box

Ari: Butwww. but yes Lost absolutely nail the feeling of being a cat, right down to waltz over a keyboard and fucking up people’s chess games and so on. And I think he carries that feeling to the end for the most part. (Even the shooting partswhich flashed through my mind—I really wanted an extra chapter or two.) But unlike a real cat, the game didn’t land on all fours.

John: Before we put up, and you are wrong about the articles shot some more, let me tell you how the end went down in our house: Toby, my 7 years old, had some friends and I finished the game. on the living room television. Toby had completely lost interest in the game when he stopped being a cat, but he wanted to be there for the reunion. As it became clear that the game was about to let me out, I said to him, “Toby, what do you think is going to happen?” He sat up, “The kittens!” And so we all looked for the inevitable, glorious moment… And it was nothing. And we looked at each other in shock. It was so terrifyingly terrifying. And Toby continued to bemoan this red tape for days afterwards. And when a 7-year-old is critiquing your story structure, you know something is wrong.

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