Review: Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical

Cue the mic drop.

Posted 9 August 2023 by Cody Perez
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review Steam Deck

Growing up, musicals were a huge part of my life, from performing Charlie & the Chocolate Factory as an elementary student to co-writing a rendition of Romeo & Juliet as a modern-style musical for the local area. As a huge musical theatre fan, the idea of a musical game in Stray Gods is an exciting idea.

Add on the fact that David Gaider, one of the lead writers for two of my favorite games in Star Wars: Knights of the Republic and Dragon Age: Origins, is working on the project as part of his co-founded rookie indie studio Summerfall Studios, and it’s promising.

Stray Gods’ cinematic indie visual novel-style is unique, complementing gorgeous 2D character designs with solid voice acting, and a sometimes skippable but still noteworthy soundtrack. The result is an incredibly unique adventure game where your choices matter, the storytelling clicks, and the colorful characters carry the game, even if the musical element is a letdown.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical (PC [reviewed], Switch, PS4/PS5, Xbox)
Developer: Summerfall Studios
Publisher: Humble Games
Released: August 10, 2023
MSRP: $29.99

Stray Gods moves at a brisk pace during its opening moments, quickly introducing the protagonist of Grace, played brilliantly by the wonderful Laura Bailey. These opening scenes are arguably a bit too fast, introducing several characters and then showing Grace as the prime suspect in the murder of a modern-day Olympic god.

The crux of this story centers around Grace trying to solve a murder mystery, to save herself from being convicted by gods like Athena and Persephone before it’s too late.

It just so happens, though, that Grace now has the power of a muse and can basically turn any scene into a musical. And that is exactly what this story does over the course of the seven days Grace has to clear her name.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review Steam Deck
Screenshot by Destructoid

Break a leg

To get it out of the way, while I was excited at playing my first musical video game, the songs and performances don’t offer much to write home about.

To Stray Gods’ credit, there are a lot of songs. Unfortunately, this also means there’s a lot of filler and throwaway songs, especially at the beginning. You can’t skip forward, either, unlike the dialogue, which made the awkward transitions, lack of intriguing music, and often arrhythmic lines all the more noticeable.

A huge part of this comes from the intriguing idea of letting you control the songs. Much like interacting with the characters, you can make choices during musical moments. You could opt to go for the “cool” line in a scene, or be a bit more heartfelt.

Another time, you might choose between a solo or doing a group number. This flexible nature could be the cause of some of the inconsistency in the soundtrack, as the best musical numbers came later in the story when the they were fewer and farther between.

That isn’t to say that the soundtrack is awful, as there are a couple of standout numbers. Two that come to mind are basically any time that Khary Payton’s Pan sings, and a memorable duel between Grace and Persephone that is almost the sole example of the choice-driven songs working out rather well.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review Steam Deck
Screenshot by Destructoid

An ovation-worthy cast

But the musical elements are only a portion of the gameplay in Stray Gods. The rest of the game focuses on the core mystery and the mythical characters you meet along the way. This is where you can truly see Gaider’s work, as these are the best characters I’ve seen in a long time.

The player has the option to romance one of four people, each of which is outstanding in their own right. Freddie is the classic casual best friend who has a sweet relationship with Grace. Alternatively, you could opt for Troy Baker’s troubled and depressing Apollo.

Each of these fascinating characters grew on me over time, giving some solid romance options worthy of competing with some of Gaider’s past works. Even outside of the romance partners, the other characters you meet have terrific and detailed writing.

Everyone has their secrets you uncover slowly over time, and it is hard to know who’s telling you the truth or what their agenda is. At its core, this is a character-driven tale, and it constantly gives its cast memorable moments to work with.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review Steam Deck
Screenshot by Destructoid

Choices that matter

This is helped by the frequent choices you get to make in the dialogue. They seem to matter just enough, such as picking who to side with in arguments or what order to investigate leads in. There are even characters who live and die in surprising ways, depending on the choices you make.

Stray Gods has enough material to garner at least one replay, to see how things could have gone differently. There are even some emotional sequences worth experiencing again, including basically everything surrounding Aphrodite’s disturbing, unforgettable storyline.

The core mystery isn’t a throwaway, either, with layers of twists and conflicting agendas. While it was a bit predictable in some areas, there was enough to keep me engaged from start to finish.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical Review Steam Deck
Screenshot by Destructoid

There is nothing like Stray Gods at all. The daunting task of creating an entire interactive musical is an admirable one. Even if the songs were mostly a miss for me, I’d like to see it tried again.

After all, you’ll find some of the most engaging characters around since Gaider’s previous stint at BioWare, and a worthwhile story in this sleeper hit. I know I have my eyes on Summerfall Studios moving forward.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.

About The Author
Cody Perez
Freelance Writer - Cody has been a huge fan of Destructoid for more than a decade as well as a freelance writer for various publications. Now working for Destructoid, he has the chance to share his passion for Final Fantasy XIV, Pokemon, Call of Duty, and many more games.
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