Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical


Review by · August 9, 2023

Greek mythology and musicals combine in the visual novel Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical, but does an epic triumph await, or is it a veritable tragedy? The game is a memorable experience centered around a compelling protagonist as she learns about the heroes of epics and a pantheon of deities far too human despite their purportedly mythic statuses. Throw in a compelling urban fantasy mystery and a fantastic soundtrack sure to play in my head for months to come, and you have yourself a wonderfully original VN to keep you sincerely entertained.

Stray Gods puts you in the role of college dropout Grace, a young woman trying to find herself. A chance encounter with the memorable Calliope takes a tragic turn, with Grace becoming the last living Muse. She discovers that the Greek gods, calling themselves Idols, live hidden amongst mortals. The Chorus, their governing body, decries that Grace has a week to find Calliope’s actual killer, or she’ll be put to death for the crime instead. Can Grace navigate a dangerous new world of mythological figures to prove her innocence? And why do her newfound powers as a Muse cause everyone to inexplicably break into song?

Grace and Apollo ask the tough questions in Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical.
The dialogue wheel is very reminiscent of many an RPG.

First and foremost, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is a VN at its core. This description might disappoint some since “roleplaying” is in the title, though I argue that the game aptly showcases how much interconnection exists between the VN and RPG genres. You’re playing the role of Grace with a BioWare-styled dialogue wheel, allowing you to choose the story’s direction. In the game’s early stages, and later on around the midway point, you select a dominant personality type for Grace. These personality types are color-coded and range from charismatic (green), kickass (red), and clever (blue). This feature sometimes opens up extra dialogue choices depending on the scene, though it isn’t a constant. Choosing one personality trait over another causes you to forgo the unchosen trait dialogue responses when they appear later. In a way, it’s akin to choosing special conversational skills in an RPG.

Despite the plot having a real sense of danger with a murderer on the loose and the constant reminders of just how violent Greek myths can be, there are no battles to speak of in Stray Gods. Instead, “combat” plays out on a musical stage utilizing Grace’s new power as a Muse. Grace and the other characters perform a battle of wills through song, with Grace’s involvement centered around her three specialized personality traits since her color choices during the musical numbers correlate with each. She can vocalize more compassion, force, or strategy in her lyrics during performances, with each response impacting how the song evolves. There are multiple ways a musical number can play out depending on your overall choices, and no song is guaranteed to be the same if you replay the game. Unless you deactivate it in the game’s settings, musical choices get timed, helping to add to the overall immersion and intensity during often emotional narrative moments. Song numbers range from cheerful ditties to reflective, soul-searching ballads, showcasing the impressive musical range.

Grace is facing a timed choice about who should sing during a musical performance in Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical.
Timed choices during songs help shape the flow of the musical number.

Aside from the evident musical draw, Stray Gods is a compelling urban fantasy tale driven by its creative take on Greek myths. Apollo is the god of light and prophecy, driven to depression because of his power to divine the future. Pan is a mischievous and seemingly carefree god helping Grace for his reasons, often at odds with Grace’s loyally dorky best friend and Greek myth aficionado Freddie. Innocent Hermes is hyper and cheerful, contrasting with the considerate god of erotic love, Eros, who mourns that love so often falls out of the equation these days. Athena is the no-nonsense leader of the Idols, and Apollo’s Oracle is a sarcastic hacker who thinks Apollo is a good-natured surfer bum.

The variations to the classic myths and resulting commentary are fascinating too. Medusa’s monstrous origins are a prime example of victim-blaming and how that only makes things worse. By removing the notion of “romance” from the story of Persephone and Hades, Stray Gods shed light on a disturbing story of abduction and abuse that ultimately ends in death in this version of their tale. The abrasive and often angry Persephone, in particular, is an incredibly complex and multi-faceted figure, starkly contrasting how she’s so often demurely portrayed in myth retellings. Knowledge of Greek myths isn’t necessary to enjoy the game, but it does add further layers of relish to the plot.

Potential romance also plays a critical role in Stray Gods’ storyline. Grace can play song matchmaker at one point between two Idol outsiders, and she can pursue four love interests if you so choose: Apollo, Persephone, Pan, and Freddie. Choosing between them was difficult, though my decisions and actions in-game caused a surprisingly sweet-yet-realistic romance between Grace and Persephone to develop on my first playthrough. At specific points, you can end a romantic relationship or not pursue one if you so choose, but the ones in the game get believably conveyed.

Grace faces the Chorus in Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical.
The Chorus plays an important role in deciding Grace’s fate.

Visually, Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is a stunning game. I like the almost comic book-inspired art with the stop-motion animation used for scene progression. The character designs are all uniquely eye-catching, and I especially love the more modern rock-inspired looks of both Freddie and Grace, along with the movie starlet appeal of Aphrodite. The colorful, creative scenery evolves in unbelievable ways to fit with the song lyrics and instrumentation, making up the crux of the game’s musical numbers. Stray Gods is a title that merges real-world aesthetics with the visual motifs of classic Greek mythology in surprisingly vibrant ways.

The game’s voicework is stellar, with every scene leaving me in awe of the emotional range of the actors involved. Laura Bailey, in particular, deserves a shoutout for her stunning performance as Grace, but I’d be hard-pressed to say there were any weak actors in the cast. Both spoken dialogue and sung lyrics convey beautifully throughout the script, even with all of the potential permutations a scene can have based on how you respond. The soundtrack is astounding, with the sample song “Adrift” as one example of how incredible the musical numbers are!

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Game is a phenomenal visual novel and interactive musical. I do feel prior knowledge of Greek mythology might prove beneficial to someone’s overall enjoyment, and those who aren’t VN or musical fans won’t alter their taste with what is here, but those who love well-crafted VNs with choice-heavy narratives and who also love musicals? Those gamers will find plenty to appreciate! Grace’s journey of self-discovery is just as heroically compelling and epically grandiose as the myths she’s now interacting with, and it’s a song worth belting out.


Excellent interactive soundtrack, creative VN experience, compellingly realistic characters.


It probably isn’t going to convince non-VN or non-musical fans to embrace the genres.

Bottom Line

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is an incredibly memorable visual novel boasting an amusing interactive musical experience.

Overall Score 92
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Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling is a reviewer for RPGFan. She is a lover of RPGs, Visual Novels, and Fighting Games. Once she gets onto a subject she truly feels strongly about, like her favorite games, she can ramble on and on endlessly. Coffee helps keep her world going round.