Rip my soul out and throw it in the deepest dark of the underworld. I played and finished Stray Gods in one sitting and I felt immensely unsatisfied.
Was it me? Did I make the wrong choices? Or does the game just end a little too shallowly? I went for the romances too late in the game, but that can’t be it, can it? No. It was just the one failure.
I went down a rabbit hole to see what other people thought about the game, and I fortunately stumbled upon this Gayming Mag story, describing the writer’s “favorite love story” of the year. I was heartbroken — I made a series of mistakes, but one mistake in particular ruined my playthrough: I overlooked Freddie.
It’s sadly poetic because I had no idea how she felt, and that’s the tragic reality of unrequited love. But my advice to you is to make it requited. If you don’t want to be spoiled, just leave with that advice. Otherwise, let’s get into my journey of love.
“I am drifting, cold waters”
I adore romance in video games — I always go for one, and enjoy selecting what’s right for the character and my own personal tastes. However, I didn’t know the romance candidates ahead of time, and so when presented with the very quick option to pull at a romance thread with Freddie, your best friend, I shut it down. My tragic mistake started at the beginning.
So Freddie was out, then came the gods — yes, the Greek gods. You’re on the clock to solve the murder of the last Muse, and you are surrounded by gods that you can’t trust. It was hard to pursue a romance with Apollo, Persephone, or Pan because they were all suspects. Also, the only romantic interaction I had with any of them that felt natural was Apollo when I teased him in his trashy house.
I realized that time was running out on the romantic bit, so I just went for one with Persephone. Who doesn’t love a butch mommy of hell? Well, I didn’t, not after the underworld. You see, at the end of Act II, Grace and Freddie go back to the Reliquary to investigate Calliope’s footsteps. We get caught off guard by the killer’s underlings, and Freddie sacrifices herself for us. Persephone convinces us that we can bring her back if we take Hades’ throne for her. That was a lie, and I immediately broke things off with Persephone when I found out.
However, the worst of my mistakes came soon after. We did find Freddie in the underworld. Grace couldn’t let go, but Freddie told us “It’s Time.” I was given a choice, one that was followed by a heartbreaking desperate plea from Grace that called on Freddie’s given name (ugh, my heart). Either give up my godhood and save Freddie, or let her go. This was a complex moral quandary. I was selfish in that I not only wanted to keep my godhood, but wanted to respect her wishes because I didn’t want her to hate me.
So I let her go. I ended up alone and unsatisfied.
“That can’t be it, can it?” I hated how shallow everything felt at the end. What am I missing? That’s when I found out about Freddie. It’s funny, the trophy actually came before the blog. It read “Returned Freddie’s feelings.” I was completely blindsided. It wasn’t that Freddie was a simple romance choice — she was already in love with Grace. Not only that, but pursuing Freddie radically changes the entire story.
So I took a shower, thought about it, and quickly decided to rush back onto Stray Gods (it was 11 p.m. at this point). I was going to have my ending no matter what it cost. I needed to know how things end. (Also, I wanted to hear new musical numbers, duh.)
I dove back in and I chased Freddie to the ends of the underworld. It was then I noticed, in choosing the romantic dialogue options, that the deep-seeded love in Freddie for Grace was rather obvious. I got to enjoy new paths that the story offered along the way, but then we came all the way back around to the underworld.
Freddie once again told me that “It’s Time.” But this time, with effort, I told her that “Who knows what comes next… but I will face it beside you.” Then I quite literally ripped the soul of a god out of my chest and gave it to Farishta. Giving up godhood was a selfless act, but the selfishness kicks back in when you realize you’ve given all the woes of that godhood to someone who didn’t want it.
So what does happen next? Well, Grace is no longer the Muse. Freddie is upset. Grace and Freddie talk, they argue, then the bomb drops. “Grace, I sacrificed myself because I love you.” Then we have the choice — “I feel the same way. I always have.” It’s then that I realized it was never unrequited love from Freddie. They both loved each other for years. This cemented Grace and Freddie as the only canon romance in my mind.
However, love did not blossom — we got an emotionally chaotic musical number called “If Only.” It captured the regret of never revealing one’s true feelings until it was too late. Freddie was traumatized by resurrection and Grace lost her gift. It was a recipe for resentment. Despite loving one another, it might’ve been too late for them.
I was scared at this point. Did I make the wrong turn in the musical number? Did I not say the right things? I didn’t know what to think. If I messed up this ending again, I was going to lose it. Then Grace left for the auditorium to sing a reprise of “Adrift.” This was tough to listen to because Grace was no longer a Muse. The first time I listened to this, the spirits of Calliope sang along with Grace and I got to see the history of the Muse. But no, Grace was alone. It crushed me. I doubted if reviving Freddie was even the right choice anymore.
Then came “The Trial” — the finale of Stray Gods. I didn’t know what to expect. Grace was no longer a Muse, so how would she challenge the killer? That’s when Freddie showed up. Her appearance changed how the journey of the trial went. Freddie once again stood at my side in the face of her killer, singing, “I’m okay dying again, if it’s with you.” Ugh, my heart melted, but does that mean I made the right choice?
“If Only (Reprise)”
I didn’t get the trophy for pursuing the Freddie love story, so I patiently waited until the aftermath of Act III, nervously bouncing my leg. I got some lovely recaps about all of the gods and what they’ve been up to since the trial. Then I finally asked about Freddie; she’s making the best out of a wild situation. We wrapped up our little chat and Apollo and Persephone invited us out for drinks, but Freddie said we’d catch up. “HERE IT COMES” I shouted with my whole chest.
That’s when we got the final and solo musical number, “If Only (Reprise).” Freddie reveals that the underworld has forever changed her, but her love never faded, and she sings, “I’m tethered to you, I’m free.” Both souls were adrift, searching in cold waters, in their hearts they remained, and did not sail in vain.
Farishta closes out our story with one final line: “It wasn’t too late. It was fate.” They kissed and I smiled until it hurt before I realized it was 3 a.m. and that I desperately needed to go to sleep. Stray Gods is about being lost and finding your way. In my first playthrough, I didn’t feel like I found anything. However, with Freddie, I felt the most lost and the most found.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.