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Stray is one of 2022’s indie highlights and instantly amassed a tremendous fan following thanks to its beautiful world and unique gameplay.
This title tells a wonderful (if rather sad) tale that’s left many clamoring for more but with no sequel or DLC announced; we may be waiting a while. So why not try Speedrunning it?
If you can’t get enough of Stray, Speedrunning is a great way to squeeze every last morsel of content out of the game. If you need more convincing, Stray’s toughest Achievement is speed-based, begging you to race through the game as fast as possible.
If the elusive ‘I Am Speed’ Achievement is causing you grief, don’t worry. You’ll make a mockery of it if you follow this Stray Speedrun guide!
Bottom Line Up Front
Stray is a brilliant Speedrunning title for newcomers and pros alike. You can comfortably beat the game within a couple of hours, and there’s a great mix of strategies you can employ, ranging from simple to ludicrously difficult.
The low entry barrier makes Stray an easy title to recommend to a fledgling runner, and if all else fails, how are you going to say no to a game about cats?!
Before You Begin
I know you’re eager to start, but there are a couple of things to bare in mind before you do. These will affect how you approach the entire Speedrun.
Should You learn a Glitched or Glitchless Speedrun?
Both Glitched (Unrestricted) and Glitchless Categories are alive and well for Stray, so as a Speedrunner, you should pick whatever takes your fancy. This guide covers the Glitchless category.
Glitchless has the lion’s share of runners, and as Stray is still relatively new, strategies and tech in the Unrestricted category are forever changing. Stray still sees developer support in the form of updates that can stop speedrun tricks from working. It’s nothing that down-patching won’t fix, but that’s a luxury console runners don’t have.
Timing Your Run
Timing starts the moment you select ‘New Game‘ and ends the second the screen fades to black at the end. Remember, the game doesn’t end when the roof of the city opens, and there’s a short running section after that cutscene.
Submitting Your Run
If you want to submit your Speedrun, you must do so with a full video adhering to the following:
- In-game sound must be enabled.
- Recording quality must be at least 360p.
- No more than 15% of the screen is blocked by external media (stream chat or webcam, for example).
- The bottom corners of the screen must be visible.
Tricks of the Trade
There are plenty of ways to save time in Stray. I’ll go through the specifics in the following section, but here are a few techniques to keep in mind. These have applications across the entire run.
Take The Racing Line
If you watch any top rated speedruns, you’ll notice that the runner keeps their turns sharp, and excess movement is kept to a minimum. The less distance you travel, the faster you’ll be, so hug walls and take a bee-line to your objective whenever possible.
There is plenty of Dialog in Stray. If you’re using a controller, mash through text whenever you see it. If you’re playing with Mouse + Keyboard, you can bind Use/Talk to the scroll wheel instead. Spinning the wheel allows you to repeat inputs much faster than tapping a button with your thumb and saves a decent amount of time throughout the run.
Press VS Hold
It’s very tempting in Stray to hold down the Jump button as you’ll immediately jump to any ledges or platforms in range. If you do this, your inputs will be sloppy, and you’ll fumble easy jumps. You’re wasting precious seconds each time you do, so keep those jumps precise and manual.
This guide assumes you’ve beaten Stray at least once, as I won’t cover basic navigation. Instead, I will show you time savers in every section and plenty of cheeky tech to shave minutes off your times.
Inside The Wall
Inside The Wall is the game’s introductory section and has many unskippable cutscenes. Even though you can’t move in these, you can still line up the camera with your destination during some scenes.
The Correct Cat Order
You can start saving time on Stray’s very first screen! The optimal order to interact with the cats is right, middle and then left. You can line up your camera ready to go when you don’t have movement control.
I feel I should mention this one because this Speedrun is full of tiny optimizations like this that add up over the run. Usually, you run to the end of the pipe and carry on your way. It’s possible to slightly cut the corner and jump from where I’m standing (pictured above) to the walkway. If you do this right, you’ll do an awkward drop-down onto the platform.
You don’t need to walk to the end of this scaffolding to trigger the cutscene to the next area. You can jump down halfway instead. There are many other scaffolding sections where you can do this same trick.
The Dead City has a little bit of everything and is a comfy introduction to many mechanics in the Speedrun.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to speed this section up, you can input buffer, so you start moving at the earliest possible moment, but the intro to the Dead City involves a lot of waiting.
Jam the Fan
When you reach this section (pictured above), grab the can in the circle and use it to jam the fan on the landing above. You can walk straight into the fan with the can in your mouth to proceed.
When you encounter this robot, the camera turns to face it as it crawls across the ground. Even though you can’t control the camera, you can still walk straight passed. There’s no need to wait.
Zerks Chase #1
Effectively outrunning the Zerks will take a few goes. You want to take the most direct route, but if you only run in straight lines, you’ll get caught. Very slightly twitching left and right will stop you from getting grabbed so much.
The only time saver here is this crossroad (pictured above). Both routes take you to the destination, but the left is a few seconds faster.
There are no enemies in the Flat, and there’s much time to be saved with precise movement, particularly during the Power Supply Puzzle.
Step on the keyboard to start this section. Usually, you’d wait until a door opens before moving, but you can walk off the keyboard early and stand by the entrance to save a few seconds. When you see the prompt on the screen that reads “\BODY REQUIRED FOR DOWNLOAD. BODY REQUIRED…” type in a response, then run to the door.
Power Supply Puzzle
There are four power outlets that you need to fill at the back of the room. There’s also a computer tower to the right that moves when you interact with it. This tower serves as a platform to reach the power unit above.
The fastest way to complete this puzzle is to activate the tower as you enter the room. Grab the power unit on top of the bookshelf to the left and insert it into an outlet. Then do the same for the one on the table, the one at the bottom of the tower, and finally, the one on top.
Doing this causes the bookshelf to open, revealing a hidden room. You have complete control during the camera movement here, so you can walk inside the room before the camera catches up.
Rushing through the conversation and inventory menus will come with practice but get to the door as fast as possible. The combination is 3748.
Most of your time in this section is spent traversing the area in buckets. Mash through text boxes when they show up, and you’ll quickly arrive in the slums.
There’s only one route through the introductory section of the Slums. Input buffer to approach Guardian and mash through his text. You need to show Guardian the postcard in your inventory, or you won’t be able to proceed.
When your conversation ends, turn 180 degrees and jump onto the red vending machine. Your goal in the Slums is to bring three notebooks to Momo and help him repair the transmitter. Rather than have the conversation with him first, we will preemptively collect everything he needs!
First, head into this window and grab Clemantine’s Notebook 4/4. It’s on the wall beside the computer. Leave the room the same way you came in and head left.
Next, head into this window. Collect the key and open the safe. To save a little time, you can knock the pile of books in front of the safe over on the way in. Once you’ve collected Doc’s Notebook 3/4, leave the way you came in and make your way to the sleeping robot on the roof.
Take the low ground. You’ll go to Momo’s house if you take the high ground here. Remember to remove the power unit on the roof before you drop in.
The final notebook is just off-screen (pictured above). Once you’re comfortable, you can knock the boxes over and grab the notebook completely blind, but for now, let the camera turn and collect Zbaltazar’s Notebook 2/4. To exit the room, interact with the green blind covering the window. Exit to the left and head to Momo’s house.
Interact with Momo, show him the notebooks in your inventory, and you’ll conclude the Slums section.
Rooftops is pretty linear but is a real run killer, thanks to two nasty Zerk sections. Both sections are incredibly risky if played optimally.
Zerk Section #1
If you rush from here (pictured), you can hack the door, move the barrel and use it as a platform all in one go without the Zerks killing you. This technique is risky, as the Zerks show no mercy and will tear you apart if you hang around. If you can’t do this right away, make a mental note and practice later.
Zerk Section #2
This part is usually easier than Section #1. Walk the barrel towards the gate and try to hack the gate without getting out. Once again, don’t worry if you can’t do this right away. Running around to regain health costs less time than dying.
After triggering the elevator, you need to wait for it to come down while dealing with an onslaught of Zerks. The best strategy is to walk around the edge of the level. Most of the Zerks will lunge at you and fall off in the process! Be ready to take the elevator the moment it arrives.
Much like your first adventure into the slums, you can quickly wrap up your business here once you have memorized the order of events.
Proceed to the bar and trigger the cutscene. Momo asks you to follow him, but instead, traverse the building directly opposite and interrupt the workers so they drop the paint can. Let Momo start walking before you climb. If you’re too fast, Momo ‘loses’ you and will wait by the bar entrance until you return.
Once the paint can has fallen, head down and grab the Super Spirit Detergent in the newly open building. This is an excellent time to do so, as we can’t do anything until Momo finishes walking.
When Momo lets you into the house, speak to Seamus, then interact with the leftmost picture above the table. The combination for the keypad is 2511.
You can run into the hidden room before Seamus. Jump up on the bookcase to the left and knock the box off the top. It contains the Broken Tracker. Interact with Seamus as soon as you can.
When Seamus lets you out, run to the shack at the edge of town and trade the Detergent for the Electrical Cable.
Give the Electrical Cables to Grandma for the Poncho.
Knock on the door opposite Grandma, head upstairs, and talk to Elliot. Give him the Poncho and then the Tracker. Finally, exit Elliot’s house via the window and rendezvous with Seamus. Complete the rest of the chapter as normal, following Seamus on his leisurely walk through the slums.
Dead End is a long chapter, thanks to the multiple sections where you have to follow Seamus at his walking pace. You can’t do much to speed things up aside from a clean chase section.
The opening chase in Dead End has no advanced strategies. Try and keep your movements as direct as possible but above all, be safe. Dying in this section can waste a lot of time.
The Sewers are challenging as they are crawling with Zerks. Risky play is encouraged for a quicker time, but death will always cost more than playing safely.
Sit at the front of the raft and be ready to jump as soon as you’re able. You don’t need to wait for the boat to stop.
You need to pull this lever (pictured) to let Momo’s boat through. The best strategy is to run through the eggs, trigger the lever and use the Defluxor on the Zerks immediately after.
You don’t need to stop to kill any Zerks in this section, and you can run through eggs if they are in your way. When you reach the room with the lever, make sure you exit via the door to the right.
This door has two keypads (pictured). It’s slightly faster to press the right button first. As in the previous section, running is always quicker than fighting.
The final chase in the Sewers is easy. You won’t get hit as long as you’re running in straight lines, and there are almost no corners to worry about. Hack the ventilation system and head through to finish the section.
Antvillage is tiny, but there are a couple of shortcuts on your way to Zbaltazar.
Firstly, you don’t need to use the ladder to head up to the 2nd floor and can climb up here instead (pictured). Be careful with your inputs here, as there’s a bucket you can accidentally trigger that will send you down instead of up.
Secondly, after you’ve spoken to Zbaltazar, jump on the box next to him and follow the pipes. This route is much faster than walking around.
Midtown is the most complicated area in the run thus far. I recommend exploring until you know your way around. On your way to Clementine, hug the walls to the right wherever possible. Keep following the staircases upwards until you reach Clementine’s house.
There’s a towel you can interact with, which pulls a drawer out. You can do this while Clementine is moving around her house. If you do this now, it’ll save time later.
Retrieve the note from her, exit the way you came in and jump across the pole outside (pictured above). From this pole, you can climb down into the town below. Make sure you knock the Security Camera on your way down.
There’s a sequence of events you need to trigger here. First, head to the bar (pictured above) and wake up the drunk worker in the back room by dropping the box of bottles on its head. Next, leave the bar, head left, and back towards the flats.
One floor down from Clementine’s, knock this Security Camera.
Followed by this one.
Make your way down to ground level and take the Cassette tape next to Simon’s feet. Then, take this Cassette to the player in the clothes shop. This will distract the shop owner so that you can steal the jacket from the window.
Next, hop into the box outside this shop (pictured) to steal the hat. Doing everything this way keeps time wasted to a minimum. Afterward, give the hat and Jacket to Blazar.
This section is tricky because you have to contend with sentinels. For the Speedrun, it’s essential to understand how they work.
Once a Sentinel spots you, they charge up their weapons unless you break the line of sight. You can take more risks than you think, and learning the limits is where the big time savers are. The route here is the same as it would be in standard play, but if you want to see a master at work, This is Anemion, the current world record holder, flying through the section.
You can complete this puzzle very quickly with some practice.
Roll the barrel as far as it will go into the room, then turn the robot on and guide it to this square (pictured above). You can use it as a platform to jump over the fence and free the next robot.
Quickly open the door and guide it to this square (pictured above).
Finally, stand on the final square and wait for the capsule in the center of the room to open. When it opens, run onto the barrel and mash the ‘interact’ button. You’ll grab the battery and trigger a cutscene. Head back to Clementine’s.
Clementine’s House Revisited
There’s an optimal order to interact with items here. When you enter the Flat, interact with the Clue board in the room to the left. Then, interact with a mannequin in the bathroom, the incense burner on the table, the crystal on the shelves above, and finally, the lava lamp. After you’ve got every clue, leave the flat, head left, and make your way to the Nightclub.
Beware of Sentinels, but you can usually run straight at them as there are so many walls to hide behind. The fastest way to the Nightclub is via the passageway immediately left of the barriers outside the flats.
You can complete the Nightclub area as normal. Make sure you grab the drink at the bar as soon as you arrive and trade it for the lever. When you reach the controls at the top, hit the button on the right, then the left and make your way across.
You start this section inside a small hanging cage. Start swinging the cage from right to left as soon as you have control. The cage will spring open the 2nd time it collides with the pipe, so be ready to jump out. Proceed as normal until you reach the jail cells.
This Sentinel is just for show, as you can safely run straight through its gaze. Once you’re clear, head up to Clementine’s cell.
Grab the cell key and follow her as she sneaks around.
Unlocking B12’s Cell
This section really needs a visual explanation. You can make your way to the control room with the lever as you usually would. You can view the much riskier route here.
After you’ve pulled the lever to free B12, you still need to run and grab it. Fortunately, you can move during the cutscene before the Sentinels can get into position. With a bit of practice, you can get to B12 before you’re even meant to enter the room and be on your way before it gets tricky.
Trap The Sentinels
There are two sections where you need to trap Sentinels behind cell doors. You can quickly do both with almost the exact same maneuver.
Get the Sentinel’s attention and sprint into the cell. The door takes a short while to close when you activate it, so trigger it just before the Sentinel reaches the door.
There are 2 Sentinels this time, but once you’ve got the timing down, you can do this very quickly. Get the attention of the Sentinel directly in front of you, then rush through the cell door and immediately activate it. Doing this usually catches both Sentinels, and you can keep the closest cell door closed the entire time as you can walk between the bars.
Tuk Tuk Escape
The cutscene at the end of the Jail section triggers the moment you jump on the back of the moving Tuk Tuk. If you quickly exit the room with the door controls, you can get to the Tuk Tuk before it leaves the compound. If you take too long here, the Tuk Tuk will race down the tunnel, and you’ll waste a ton of time trying to keep up.
You’ve faced the hardest challenges Stray can throw at you. All that’s left is a short section in the Control Room.
From the large window, the optimal order to hack the control panels is front right, back left, and front left.
When you hack the first control panel, a cutscene shows the room going into lockdown. You have control during this and can make your way to the back left panel. As you’ll be doing this maneuver blind, I recommend running to the left for a few seconds, then towards the camera.
With every panel hacked, take B12 to the controls by the window and trigger the most heart-wrenching scene in the game. Even though you’re a Speedrunner now, watching this doesn’t get any easier.
There’s a short run out of the compound after the cutscene, and you can stop timing the moment the screen fades to black before the credit crawl.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I learn both Glitched and Glitchless runs, or should I focus on just one?
Answer: At the time of writing, the world records for Glitched and Glitchless belong to the same person! With this in mind, it’s OK to learn both.
Question: What is a good time for a Glitchless Stray Speedrun?
Answer: Anything under 100mins is a run you should celebrate. At the time of writing, the world record is just over 75 mins!
Question: Would you recommend Stray to a new Speedrunner?
Answer: Yes. Stray has plenty of tricky sections, but once you memorize the route, you can quickly race through the entire game. In Glitchless, there’s no advanced movement tech to worry about, so there’s a low barrier for a fledgling runner.
- If you’re on PC, I highly recommend using this Mod Tool. The Stray Trainer gives access to handy features like instant Saves/Loads for practicing and even different camera angles. Beware the Save/Load feature only affects your position. It doesn’t affect enemies or objects. This means careless use can soft-lock the game.
- Check out Anemion’s incredible world record Speedrun. If you’re serious about competing, there’s nothing more inspirational than watching the world’s best at work.