What a long journey this has been. After parting ways with Konami, Hideo Kojima is back with the first title under his very own game studio. Death Stranding is now out on PS4. A PC version will follow later in 2020. We knew we’d be in for a wild ride, but we weren’t prepared for this. Get ready. It’s getting weird.
The United States is not what it used to be. A catastrophic event known as the “Death Stranding” has somehow merged the world of the living with the world of the dead. Creatures of the afterlife, so called “BTs”, are roaming the earth looking for the dead. Once they consume them, they create explosions, leaving huge craters and making the US more and more uninhabitable. If that wasn’t enough, they also are responsible for the “Timefall”. That’s rain, that makes everything it touches age immediately. Amongst all this chaos is Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus), the game’s protagonist. He’s special in two ways. One, he’s part of an organization delivering cargo, trying to connect the remaining spots of civilization with his “bridges”. Two, Sam can’t die. For whatever reason he is one of the very few people who can escape the “Beach”, the place between life and death. That also gives him special powers. His bodily fluids can be used as weapons against the BTs.
Cargo Simulator 2019
Weird, right? This is Kojima at his best. Interesting characters, a weird world to explore and fascinatingly creative elements such as Timefall. Death Stranding starts with a bang and lets your imagination run wild as to what happened to this world. Then the gameplay starts… and that is way less crazy or weird. It’s the complete opposite of that. Death Stranding is a third-person action game. Action as in “you do stuff”, not “Metal Gear Solid epic mech fight” action. Sam does get a weapon, but it’s painfully obvious how little Kojima wants you to actually use it. Sam does have to fight from time to time. BTs and story-driven boss fights are rare, but they do exist. You see, the vast majority of the gameplay is about delivering cargo. Getting the contracts, loading on the cargo, traversing dangerous terrain and reaching your destination. That’s what Death Stranding is all about.
In most other games the act of delivering cargo is not that special or challenging. Forget that. In Death Stranding you fight the open world itself in order to complete your quests. You need to be balanced at all times and always mind your steps. One wrong move and Sam loses his footing, making you lose all your precious cargo in the process. Over time (after several hours) that task gets easier. Better gear and a bike for instance, make traversing the world smoother and your job “more fun”. The biggest aid in your journey comes directly from other players over the internet, though. As long as you’re connected to the PSN while playing, you can use bridges and ladders that other players have left behind. However, they won’t stay forever. Over time the Timefall will make them go away.
So… is it good?
We finally know what Death Stranding actually is, but is it good? There’s no clear answer to that question. It depends. Death Stranding is a gorgeous game with fascinating elements we’ve never seen before in a video game. Traversing the world while listening to the amazing soundtrack can be responsible for many goosebump moments. And yet the gameplay itself might be too special for a lot of people. It’s weird, it’s interesting and the cutscenes are out of this world. Death Stranding is the weirdest, most interesting and very likely the most controversial AAA game of the year.
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