Death Stranding may have narrowly missed out on the most coveted prize at the Game Awards 2019, but it still stands as a monumental achievement. Both in terms of technical craftmanship and visual excellence.
Death Stranding Review
As is the case, with the more refined things in life, Death Stranding is an acquired taste. And as history has shown, Kojima’s formula, though divisive at times, has delivered a consistent string of top-notch games down the years. Most, if not all, of them, critically acclaimed to an impressive degree.
Especially those of the Metal Gear Solid Series. Even so, Kojima’s tendency to prioritize plot over gameplay has drawn criticism over the years. But those that buy into Kojima’s cinematic brand of storytelling worship the formula—thus bestowing the man with unrivaled reverence as a creative genius.
I tend to sit on the latter side of the fence. And always have done.
Kojima’s torturous departure from Konami paved the way for a new partnership with Sony. Under a different umbrella, and with full license to roam, Hideo’s talented team of developers at Kojima productions went about devising a fresh IP. One unlike any to date. Better still, the results may well have altered the gaming landscape forever. At least on a developmental level.
Join us as we delve deep in video game auteur Hideo Kojima’s latest creation. Better buckle your seatbelts folks, it’s going to be a mind-blowing ride. Prepare for sensory overload.
Death Stranding Story
First up, we have the story. The game takes place amidst a dystopian version of the United States, where a catastrophic event, known as the Death Stranding, has bridged the worlds of life and death. As a result, destructive creatures now plague the desolate plains of America.
As Sam Porter Bridges, played by The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, your role is to deliver parcels to isolated pockets of people scattered across the country. In doing so, you’ll reconnect communities and to coin a phrase, make America great again.
Sorry, I just had to do it.
As you’d expect with any game promoting Kojima’s unique brand, the story plays a pivotal role in events. Open-world areas are capped-off with awesome cinematics. Thus, giving us context and clarity to the mission. Equally, the characters are just as compelling. That’s hardly surprising, though. Not least so, considering the immense acting talent on board.
That acting pedigree consists of Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Troy Baker, and Guillermo del Toro. Among many more. And this helps create a strong sense of realism.
All in all, it’s ever so easy to invest in these NPC’s, and their story arcs.
Death Stranding Gameplay
Next up, we have gameplay. Now, here comes the contentious part. As a courier to colonies across the US, inevitably, there’s going to be plenty of fetch-and-carry missions. In truth, the entire game is structured around that very concept. On that note, if you despise going back and forth between places countless times, you’re going to hate Death Stranding.
Just a word of warning.
In truth, it’s part of the fabric of the game. But it also plays a significant role in its authentic charm. As you deliver essential supplies to facilities in need, your reputation and rank will increase. In turn, this allows you to hook them up to the Chiral network, a virtual connective tissue that brings people together.
Within, you’ll be able to share vital resources, supplies, and equipment with other facilities. In the process, you’ll steadily but surely reforge society from the ground up, lost to Death Stranding.
Another element worthy of mention is the other-worldly encounters with BT’s. These ghostly figments of your worst imagination provide some of the most intense exchanges in any video game.
When roaming the baron lands, a rain known as “Timefall” triggers these terrifying creatures. What follows is a frantic fight for survival as you battle supernatural entities smothered in ink.
But it’s in how these battles evolve, that creates a suction-pulling vortex of immersion. Unable to escape, the BT Mutates into a beast worthy of biblical proportions, which hunts Sam down. Scary stuff.
You’ll also have to nurture and care for your very own BB. Short for bridge baby, these adorable incubated infants must be kept in tip-top condition. That means monitoring stress levels and providing comfort wherever possible. Not before long, you’ll develop a fierce attachment to BB.
And it’s easy to see why. So cute.
Death Stranding Visuals
Now, let’s move onto the visual side of things. That should be easy. At every turn, Death Stranding provides a constant stream of eye candy. Whether that sensory satisfaction derives from the stunning vistas, occupying Sam’s surrounding environs, or the characters themselves, the attention to detail is on another level.
In truth, the graphics are pixel perfect, while the levels of polish and presentation are second to none.
Not very often do I take the time to stop and look around to soak in the sights and sounds. And that’s testament to the game. In every aspect, Death Stranding dazzles the senses.
It is a real sight to behold.
Death Stranding Final Verdict
In truth, it’s easy to see why players appear divided on Death Stranding. At times, it’s a persistently punishing game. All too often, requiring epic feats of mental and physical exertion. Besides that, the overall message is one of unity. But also, the potential of humanity when we work as a collective. Positively for the betterment of each other.
Instead of creating division and unrest. Did I release my inner hippy just now?
On top of that, its stunning visuals and unprecedented depth in terms of systems create a highly immersive experience. But if you’re looking for a game unlike any other, Death Stranding is, and may well remain the most artful and inspired creation of our times.
If you haven’t played it, I suggest doing so, purely for the fact that it’s so original. But of course, the choice is yours.
What do you think? Did Death Stranding exceed your expectations? Or was the grind too much to bear? As always, we welcome all views. So, feel free to air your stance in the comments.