The Stray Laboratory is a freaky PS1 styled adventure that blends survival horror and point and click adventure elements as you try to escape from a mysterious hotel room that you’ve been locked up in.
Drawing inspiration from Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Maniac Mansion, as well as movies like The Shining, Psycho and Guest House Paradiso, The Stray Laboratory is a creepy and surreal callback to the PS1 era of gaming – not just visually, but control-wise too. In the game you step into the shoes of a “guest” at a strange hotel, who is locked in his room and must find a way to escape. However, there’s some weird stuff going on in the hotel room – and it’s not just the contents of your permanently clogged toilet!
The retro-styled control scheme and UI of The Stray Laboratory is (seemingly deliberately) clunky and unintuitive so it takes a while to wrap your head around. For instance, to pick up objects you need to aim your head at it to select it, then press either the left or right shoulder button to grab it with your left or right hand. If it’s a small object then you can put it within the Resident Evil-esque limited inventory space of your pockets. However, if it’s a large object then it won’t fit in your inventory and you’ll have to carry it around until you find some use for it, find a place to put it down or drop it (but at the moment dropping an object can cause it to disappear from the game).
The cumbersome inventory/interaction system of The Stray Laboratory makes even the simplest of tasks (such as making a cup of tea) a very fiddly and time consuming experience. You’ll notice the time passing too, as the game has a day/night cycle, with you going to bed each night and getting a phone call from the concierge most mornings, giving you suggestions of things to do.
In its current state The Stray Laboratory is a very buggy and non user-friendly experience but it certainly has a lot of potential. The PS1 styled visuals look excellent, it’s got a very creepy and surreal atmosphere, the interaction system is unique (if a little rough around the edges) and the mysterious hotel you’re locked up in is very interesting. It will infuriate, but it will intrigue as well, and you’ll be keen to get to the bottom of what’s really going on in that hotel.
Download The Stray Laboratory Alpha Demo Here (Windows, Mac & Linux)