It turns out that Stray's cryptic language is just a cipher - here's how to decode it

Street scene from Stray at night with neon signs lighting up storefronts
(Image credit: Blue Twelve Studio)

The language of the Droids in Stray has been translated and it's a lot simpler than you may have thought.

Or not, unless you believe someone over at BlueTwelve Studio created an entirely new language from scratch. Instead, it's a simple cipher that fleshes out the overnight hit's world-building. And with it, you can finally read in-game newspapers, buzzing neon signs, and anything else you happen across that's sporting Stray's glyphs.

Half-Glass Gaming's Josh Wirtanen cracked the code and has even provided readers with the cipher key. Using the chapter titles as a jumping off point, he's managed to figure it out, but does highlight a few inconsistencies. There's some minor variations in a couple of the symbols, and translations themselves sometimes err on the side of gibberish. But it works perfectly for the most part.     

(Meow) Mix those letters up

Cipher used in Stray laid out with the English alphabet

(Image credit: Josh Wirtanen via Half-Glass Gaming)

Discrepancies noted by Wirtanen include two different variants of the letters P and E, while some signage has been rotated, providing an extra layer of challenge in decoding. Meanwhile some translations of the in-game content have resulted in mild gobbledygook that's a little harder to parse.    

On top of that, Stray seems to have a number of different written languages. Wirtanen has only translated the one from the chapter title screens, but adds that "a lot of the hand-painted words are just the same word used over and over again." So he gave up on the endeavor of trying to translate everything, saying that these other text samples don't "seem like they actually mean anything."

That being said, the fruits of his successful attempts are a fun mix. Here, we have a bag labeled "best bag."  What's inside? Who cares! It's the best bag. All other details are unimportant at this time. 

screenshot of a bang hanging on a coat rack in Stray

(Image credit: Josh Wirtanen via Half-Glass Gaming)

Elsewhere, it seems like Stray is home to Droid vampires who like to include their Dracula accent in their copy. See this 'vanted' sign as evidence. They probably vanted to suck up his delicious Droid oil. Ah-ah-ah!   

wanted poster from Stray featuring a Droid

(Image credit: Josh Wirtanen via Half-Glass Gaming)

Now you have the key, the world of Stray is your oyster. And don't forget, you can pick it up for free on PS4 and PS5 with PS Plus right now. Steam players might not be getting a freebie, but on the plus side, there's a ton of mods you can incorporate into the game.

PC players are able to put their own cats into Stray, as well as play splitscreen multiplayer. There's a ton of mods out there already, and we even have a handy guide on how to install Stray mods. So have a peruse if you fancy spicing up the vanilla game. 

Shabana Arif
News Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Shabana has been writing about games for almost a decade now, as well as covering tech, politics, food, and other random tidbits at Gizmodo UK. She's stepped outside of news every now and then to write game guides, and always appreciates a DM if she's helped get you out of a pickle. During her time freelancing, you may have spotted her words at VG24/7, GamesRadar, and IGN. She's also held the position of news editor at Gizmodo UK, T3, and The Sun Online.