What a long, strange trip it’s been! No, I’m not talking about the Grateful Dead. I’m talking about Death Stranding from legendary game producer Hideo Kojima. Never in my 34 years of gaming have I ever seen a video game surrounded in such mystery as I have with Death Stranding.
After parting ways with Konami in 2015, Hideo opened up his own independent game studio, Kojima Productions just a few months later. And, he announced a partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment to make a brand new game. Death Stranding was officially announced the next year at E3 2016 and what the game was about has been shrouded in mystery ever since.
Now, 4 years later, Death Stranding on the PlayStation 4 is here. And, everyone is wondering what the game is about and if it’s any good. Let’s find out!
Death Stranding Details
Platform: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Pro
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
A journey to reconnect America
If you’ve played any of Hideo Kojima’s previous games, you’ll know he is a master storyteller. And, Death Stranding is no different. It’s not uncommon for in-game cutscenes to last between 5 and 10 minutes. What makes Death Stranding for me so compelling is its phenomenal, although be it weird, story. I won’t spoil the story for you, instead I’ll give you the overall idea of it.
In a nutshell, Death Stranding focuses around Sam Porter Bridges in an apocalyptic United States that has been torn apart. The root cause of all the chaos and destruction is something known as “Death Stranding“. As a result of the “Death Stranding“, invisible creatures known as BTs have invaded the Earth and cause massive explosions when they consume someone who has just died.
Moreover, BTs can produce a rain that is known as Timefall, which causes whatever it touches to age rapidly. Because of these events, survivors have created independent colonies across the country. It is your job as Sam Porter Bridges to reunite these colonies and reverse the catastrophic events of the Death Stranding.
I’ll be honest, it takes a few hours of playing before you start to get a grasp of the story and it really starts to sink in. The character development is top notch and the twists and turns in the storyline will have you on the edge of your seat.
In my opinion, Death Stranding‘s gameplay is its weakest link. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s horrible by any means. What I am saying is, Death Stranding is one of those games that either you really like or don’t care for it at all. For all intensive purposes, your role as Sam is to deliver supplies to remote colonies across a harsh environment.
Generally, that means picking up parcels with supplies in them from point A and delivering to point B. Sounds a little boring doesn’t it? Except, gameplay involves having to manage your inventory and balance it on your back accordingly. You’ll have certain weight limits that can carry and anything over it will cause you to walk at a snail’s pace, literally.
However, as you visit the various colonies across the country, new technology becomes available to enhance your journey. Things like robotic legs that allow you to carry more items or move faster make things a whole lot easier. Additionally, vehicles, weapons, grenades are at your disposal.
It’s a really tough push, but if you are willing to stick with it and get past the first 8-10 hours of the game, gameplay does improve by leaps and bounds.
Outstanding visuals and sound
Along with the superb writing, Kojima is well known for his outstanding presentation values on all of his games. What does that mean exactly? For starters, Death Stranding looks amazing. It uses Guerilla Games’ proprietary Decima game engine and doesn’t disappoint. Sam is played by Hollywood actor Norman Reedus, and is the spitting image of Norman on screen. Additionally, motion capture was used to give everyone and everything life like movement.
As you travel across the country, you visit a variety of locations that often made me stop just to take it all in. In addition to outstanding visuals and animation, the voice acting in Death Stranding is top notch. The star studded cast includes the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Troy Baker, Lindsay Wagner, and Tommie Earl Jenkins, to name a few. Again, their performances are some of the best in recent memory.
As important as sound is to a game, Kojima nails it in Death Stranding. The game’s atmospheric sounds make you feel as if you are right there standing beside Sam. Also included is original music from artists such as Chvrches, Bring Me the Horizon, Khalid and more.
What’s really neat is the way that Kojima incorporates these tracks into Death Stranding. Shortly before you arrive at your next delivery location, the sounds quiet down and a song from one of these artists starts to play. Their tone and sound fit the game’s themes perfectly and really add to your experience.
Asynchronous multiplayer gameplay
Multiplayer was often talked about during development and it wasn’t until recently that we finally found out what that involved. The way in which Kojima incorporated multiplayer is unique and you’ll never see another human controlled character in the game. Instead, Kojima opted for asynchronous play.
This means that there are multiple instances of the “world” in which you play on servers that you share with others. That means structures like bridges, zip-lines, and mail boxes built by other players are available for you to use. Furthermore, you can also drop cargo for other players to help them with their deliveries. It’s a really unique way to incorporate other players and ties in with the game’s overall theme of uniting everyone.
Death Stranding offers a unique experience that you can’t find anywhere else
Kojima has done it again! Death Stranding is a game with its own unique experience that you cannot get anywhere else. With that being said, it’s not for everyone. I’ve talked to many of gamers who love it and others that don’t. In my opinion, Death Stranding is a fantastic game that’s only hampered by its slow to start gameplay.
If you are a fan of Metal Gear and Hideo Kojima, then you will no doubt enjoy Death Stranding. However, if you aren’t into a game that really makes you think and isn’t full of fast paced action, you might want to reconsider Death Stranding.
Let me know in the comments section below if you have or are planning to play Death Stranding and what your thoughts are on the game.
+ Beautiful visuals and top notch voice acting
+ Intriguing story full of twists and turns
+ Asynchronous multiplayer ties in with the overall theme of the game
– Gameplay doesn’t pick up until 8-10 hours into the game
– Overall slow pace can be a turn off for some
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DEATH STRANDING
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5