Stray Gods: Orpheus DLC review – A welcome encore

Stray Gods: Orpheus is a lovely, compact tale about the nature of purpose and belonging.
stray gods orpheus review

Stray Gods: Orpheus is a very clever chapter of the Stray Gods story, by design. While Orpheus only put in a brief appearance in the base game, his single solo, and the talent of voice actor Anthony Rapp, was enough to create an intrigue and mystique about potential future appearances. In Stray Gods: Orpheus, he takes centre stage, and with wall-to-wall musical hits, and a tight, impactful story about purpose and belonging, he shines when given the spotlight.

After the high drama and godly battles of Stray Gods, Orpheus is a notably lower-key affair. It’s more of an epilogue or an encore, than its own epic tale. It’s also far shorter than Stray Gods, clocking in close to the 1.5 hour mark, with potential for replays defined by new choices. Even within its short span, it manages to be an effective tale, thanks to the depth of its writing, and Rapp’s incredibly strong vocal performance – both as a singer, and a narrator.

He injects layers into Orpheus’ struggle – as the one-time ruler of the Underworld enters the real world, in search of purpose and meaning in life. With little vocal tweaks, Rapp paints a picture of a broken man, looking to move on, but not knowing how.

Read: Stray Gods Review – Bittersweet Symphony

Joined by Erika Ishii’s Hermes, Orpheus sets off on a brief quest to find a place or a person to call home on Earth. What follows is a series of lovely, often hilarious vignettes about discovering who you are, and embracing the longing in your soul.

stray gods orpheus review
Image: Summerfall Studios

There’s one particular scene in the game’s tongue-in-cheek speed dating segment that had me bursting out laughing, even though I was forewarned of its arrival. The writing here is deft and snappy, and it benefits Orpheus immensely. It’s funny, light-hearted, and frequently surprising.

Building on the Stray Gods legacy

In many ways, I enjoyed this chapter much more than Stray Gods itself. Orpheus neatly addresses the base game’s stumbles, and builds on its style and musical interludes well. One of my biggest issues with Stray Gods is that while the writing and action is deep and complex, its combat-songs can feel disjointed.

Having disparate voices and warring tones means many of Grace’s battles have clashing notes, and overlapping lines of dialogue that are less melodic, and more jarring. There’s no such challenges in Orpheus, as it’s a more introspective tale, where music and duets share harmony.

Many of the DLC’s songs feature Rapp’s voice alone, and it is a wonderful, powerful voice. The songs themselves are also very catchy, with rhythmic tunes and toe-tapping beats that feel like memorable ear worms – and they’re all laced with emotion. When Orpheus is part of duets, there’s also more of flow with call and response, rather than an overlap.

Orpheus has seemingly learned many lessons from Stray Gods, and it’s all the better for it.

stray gods orpheus dlc review
Image: Summerfall Studios

If I have one criticism, it’s that Orpheus leaves you longing at its ending. After unravelling Orpheus’ tale of woe, his journey is left open-ended, with plenty of questions in its wake. Will we see the hero again? Will he find true purpose? There are few answers here.

While that spells intrigue for the future of Stray Gods, we’ll have to wait to see whether its core threads are laced together in further chapters. I’d love to see Orpheus again in future, and after such an endearing encore, I’m sure there will be others that feel the same.

Four stars: ★★★★

Stray Gods: Orpheus
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Summerfall Studios
Publisher: Humble Games
Release Date: 27 June 2024

A PC code for Stray Gods: Orpheus was provided and played on an Asus ROG Ally for the purposes of this review. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.