Death Stranding. It has been on the minds of people for the past four years since Hideo Kojima created his new company Kojima Productions. What would it be? Would we understand it when it came out and most importantly of all what are those babies!? These were the questions we had and I can tell you right now since finishing Death Stranding that all these questions are answered.
In Death Stranding, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step
In Death Stranding players step into the role of Sam Bridges (Norman Reedus). This lone wolf is brought in by the remains of the American government to try and reconnect the continent. How does he do that? He goes from the east to the west connecting people and making America whole again.
And that is all I will say about the story of this game. Why? It’s simple really this is a one of a kind game storywise and to tell you how it all plays out would deprive you of watching it all unfold. I will say this though – I was constantly intrigued by the story and when all was said and done I was in tears. The characters, both villains and heroes are compelling. Mads Mikkelsen is a particular highlight and his connection to the other characters is eerie and yet heartbreaking all at the same time.
It was impressive that the writing of Hideo Kojima brought up such emotions. I imagine it had to do with the strong sense of bonds his characters build throughout the course of the game. That is the main them running throughout the game, connecting and after playing it I can say wholeheartedly it succeeds with its message.
The tools of the trade
The name of the game is delivery. You, Sam, must deliver packages from city to city all the while further connecting the people of America. There are many, many things in your way though. They range from literal mountain ranges, terrorists, and terrifying creatures that feel lifted from H.P. Lovecraft’s warped mind.
These creatures are known as BTs and they cause mass destruction wherever they appear. These beings are a nightmare when you have to deliver your packages across America. They are however not the only unusual issue. There is also “Timefall” which makes everything from people to packages deteriorate due to its time-altering effects. Everything it touches rapidly ages and for a delivery man, this is a nightmare.
In this devastated world you have to utilise the futuristic power of a 3D printer to help combat all these obstacles. For example, you can fabricate equipment that lets you carry more weight and stabilise you should you fall with all your various packages. You can create ladders and climbing anchors to help go to the highest peaks and then all the way back down again. This is just the tip of the iceberg though as the game is constantly evolving with new items and gear to push your journey forward.
You do all of this to make sure all the packages and equipment are balanced on your person because you are graded. That’s right every time you deliver a package your recipient grades its quality, the volume you carried, the distance, the links you made along the way and miscellaneous ( I don’t get that one).
It’s about the friends we made along the way
With all this gameplay there was one element that I was surprised about, there’s online. Much like Dark Souls franchise Death Stranding has an online community. The other porters out there across the world leave items to help you achieve your goals, not only that they help you rebuild the world.
At one point I built a part of a road and from there many other gamers built other parts of it and my god this was an incredible feeling. Seeing this world evolve was astounding and even late-game I kept getting new weaponry, equipment, and goodies. You see an item or structure with the name Burningson give it a like, because it was me.
It’s a fascinating experience because the online community was incredibly helpful throughout my whole journey. They helped me out of a lot of jams and I appreciated that.
A mountain too high
With this being a Hideo Kojima project Death Stranding has his fingerprints all over it. It’s over the top, can feel like it makes no sense at times and there are also moments of massive exposition dumps and they can be somewhat exhausting.
I suppose the most egregious issue with Death Stranding is that it is a Kojima game. It is the natural evolution of his craft and if you’re not a fan of his I doubt this will win you over. Death Stranding is a niche game with AAA production behind it.
I loved Death Stranding. It’s weird and wonderful and I can’t wait to see the myriad of debates it will bring into the world. It was a 60-hour journey before I took my last step and I enjoyed every moment of it.
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