The cyberpunk setting Stray was inspired by a real city

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Despite the fact that Stray, a cat-oriented game, definitely drew inspiration from the developers’ own pets, its original influences, especially with regard to its setting, lie in a real historical city in Hong Kong. The extremely cluttered, neon-lit cyberpunk streets of the Stray may seem like an ideal playground for cats, but the design of every location from the Dead City to the Slums refers to the now destroyed Kowloon fortress City.

The unique history of the Kowloon fortress city has left him a heavy legacy both in gangster films and in modern video games about the war. Originally built as a military fort to defend against the surrounding British colonial forces, the city has always been isolated from the rest of Hong Kong, free from local jurisdiction and subsequently not governed. After World War II, immigrants and refugees flocked to the enclave, and during its heyday in the 1980s, Kowloon Fortress City was the most populous city in the world. Due to the fact that public affairs were controlled by organized crime syndicates, it quickly established itself as a haven for unlicensed doctors, gambling houses, drug trafficking and violent crimes. Although the city was demolished by the Hong Kong authorities in 1994, this brutal reputation still fascinates writers and game developers.

The creators of Stray (and possibly a sequel)¬†They stated on the PlayStation blog that the idea of creating a game around the fortress city of Kowloon actually pushed them to leave Ubisoft and found their own company BlueTwelve Studio. Originally announced as “Project_HK”, Stray represents a city hundreds of years in the future, populated by robots, drones and mutants in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Even the storyline that follows the cat’s search for a way over the metal domed ceiling of the city evokes the colloquial name of the Kowloon fortress city, Hak Nam – The City of Darkness.

Kowloon Fortress City influenced not only Stray

Kowloon Fortress City has once again attracted the attention of the public due to the popularity of the game and the positive reception of the Tramp by reviewers, but many previous works of art were inspired in a similar way. During the 1980s and 1990s, many gangster and martial arts films were either shot in Kowloon Fortress City or were influenced by it – “Brothers from the Fortress City”, “The Long Arm of the Law” and “Blood Sport” were shot on location, while the film Jackie Chan In the climactic scene of “Criminal History” shows real buildings that explode during the planned destruction of the city. In William Gibson’s novels “Virtual Light” and “Idoru”, the fortress city of Kowloon is also widely represented, rethinking what it could become in the form of futuristic cyberpunk slums. Perhaps most notable is the anime film Ghost in the Shell, which combines the violence and chaos of Kowloon City gangster films with the cybernetic futurism of Gibson’s cyberpunk vision.

These works, in turn, inspired the creation of many games. Shenmue 2, the classic cyberpunk series Deus Ex, Stranglehold, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Shadowrun: Hong Kong are just some of the games in which the player finds himself in a dilapidated, lawless sci-fi metropolis inspired by the fortress city of Kowloon. While Stray may be significantly more appealing than the games that came before it, its influence demonstrates how pervasive the legacy of the Kowloon fortress City really is.

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