A fugue in a technology test – ComputerBase

Stray im Test: Streunenden Katzen unters Fell geschaut

In Stray, the player plays the role of a cat. It looks unusual and it is. But the concept works and the technology is just as well, as testing with benchmarks shows. In addition to pure performance, graphics options and DirectX 12 also play a role.

real hit (surprise)

The stray appeared out of nowhere. However, the game attracted a lot of attention shortly before and during the release and is very popular. Not only are there a whopping 56,000 reviews for the indie title on Steam, the overall rating is “extremely positive” – ​​and it hasn’t improved. One of the main reasons for this is definitely that you’re not playing a human or other hero, you’re playing a cat. And it is known that four-legged friends are always on the go. It also helps that the script is well executed.

Small development studio BlueTwelve Studio decided Unreal Engine 4 was the engine, and even if you often saw that the budget was low, the graphics look quite coherent. From the many different environments to the perfectly harmonious lighting to the numerous physics tricks and proper animation: the graphics are consistently compelling, although the textures, density of detail, and much more are far from AAA level. This just does not bother the stray.

With DirectX 12 and ray tracing – via console

Stray causes confusion when it comes to the official system requirements. DirectX 12 is mentioned as a minimum requirement, no other API. However, the cat game only works with DirectX 11, and there is no trace of DirectX 12 in the game. However, as in all current titles with Unreal Engine 4, the low-level API can be enforced via a console command.

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And then you can quickly see that the implementation of DirectX 12 is clearly not over yet, because both AVG FPS and frame times are better with DirectX 11, especially with Radeon. Obviously, the system requirements were announced a bit early and the original plan didn’t work at the time.

Anyone forcing DirectX 12 will also notice that the developers have apparently also worked on ray tracing, because shadows, environmental blockages, and reflections are calculated using rays by default. Performance drops drastically regardless of the graphics card. Effects can be turned off in the configuration file.

DLSS and FSR . excluded

Stray also dispenses with modern downsampling technologies, and neither AMD’s FSR 1.0 and FSR 2.0 nor Nvidia’s DLSS are supported. However, the game offers to precisely reduce the display resolution to improve performance.

The list of Stray graphics remains simple on PC. There are no graphics presets at all, and the number of graphic options is also limited to a minimum. But there is an FPS limiter, even if it only allows 30 FPS and 60 FPS levels. One of the things I loved the most was the ability to configure the display resolution in 10 percent increments between 50 and 200 percent.

Again, the VRAM meter appears to only show what the game needs and does not reflect the graphics card’s current memory usage – so the value displayed can be very confusing. You will also search in vain for screenshots and descriptions of individual options.

List of Stray graphics
List of Stray graphics

Individual graphics options in detail

Stray has no graphics options, instead every aspect of effect quality, shadow quality, texture quality, and mesh quality can be set to low, medium, and high.

The visual differences between “high” and “medium” are limited, but they can be seen. With “medium” many objects tend to shine, which is no longer the case with “high” with better shades. There are significant differences with low graphical detail, because many reflections are missing, which can cost the cyberpunk world a lot of atmosphere. In addition, the sharpness of the texture, the clarity of vision, and the level of detail are reduced.

Medium graphic detail
Medium graphic detail
Graphics details are low
Graphics details are low

Decent FPS boost

Medium graphics details speed up Stray significantly. The Radeon RX 6800 XT increases its speed by 39 percent in Ultra HD, and the GeForce RTX 3080 by 35 percent. However, the lower graphics details provide only a small boost. AMD and Nvidia graphics cards run another 9 percent faster, so overall performance can be increased by about 50 percent in both 3D accelerators.

Graphics Presets Comparison – 3840 x 2160

    • Graphics details are low

    • Medium graphic detail

    • High graphics detail

    • Graphics details are low

    • Medium graphic detail

    • High graphics detail

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