Death Stranding Test — “Overhyped” or “Best of the Year?”View All Reviews
Death Stranding is a video game developed by Kojima Productions, and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 and 505 Games for Microsoft Windows. It is directed by Hideo Kojima – the first game he and his reformed studio have worked on since the disbandment of Kojima Productions as a Konami subsidiary in July 2015.
Game developer Hideo Kojima enjoys a certain cult status among gamers. So it is hardly surprising that the hype surrounding Death Stranding is so gigantic. It is the latest work by the Metal Gear creator, who is sometimes referred to as the “Tarantino of game development.”
What exactly the “death stranding” is has been the subject of speculation over the past three years. The answer is very short: you play as a deliveryman and transport things from point A to B. The main character Sam Porter Bridges, embodied by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus, receives an important order. It is supposed to connect the remaining cities in a post-apocalyptic America.
Ghost Сreatures, Mysterious Babies, and Hints
Something has brought the world of the living together with the world of the dead, destroying a big part of human life. Outside the remaining cities, invisible and aggressive spirit beings dwell. But Sam is well equipped — he can return to life after death, sense the spirit beings and thus stay away from their zones. Quite early in the game, Sam also gets a so-called BB — a bridge baby. That is, a fetus of a brain-dead mother in a portable tank, which, through connection with the mother and the help of another device, can make the ghosts visible to Sam.
A ladder bridge brings courier Sam over the next abyss. Other Death Stranding players can also use these ladders. Photo: Sony
Play with the Baby
The BB is not just an item that Sam carries around and uses. Players can also feel it. Because BB can be scared or cry. The noise comes directly from the controller, which leads to a much more intense connection between the player and the baby. To calm it down, you must then hold the controller in your hand while Sam says some soothing words.
Kind of creepy, but also cute. The Bridge Baby (BB) plays a special role in Death Stranding. Photo: Sony
Monotony in a New Form
Those are just some of the elements that make Death Stranding so appealing. On the other hand, there is a very monotonous mission structure. Those annoying “bring item X from point A to B” tasks are well known for open-world games. In Death Stranding, they are the main quests. However, Kojima comes up with interesting mechanics. Players have to think carefully about how they equip Sam: strapped stuff on his back, arms, or legs — everything affects his balance. It almost seems like a parody of the many role-playing games in which the protagonists have almost endless pockets. At the same time, Sam has to sneak past ghosts and human opponents. What creates the most heart-pounding moments at first is only an annoying obstacle later.
The Fascinating World Is Small
Up until the third act, Sam is almost exclusively on foot and has few helping factors. Then, new ways of getting around and other types of missions open up. You could also say that the game is only starting then until it takes away these possibilities or makes them unnecessarily complicated. In the end, you spend about 50 to 60 hours with Death Stranding — which is followed by a two-hour cinematic video. It can be eventful and exciting for some while monotonous and frustrating for others.
In the world of Death Stranding, you will find other couriers who make life difficult for Sam. Photo: Sony
Energy Drinks and Television Advertising
And then there’s the advertising. Here, Kojima rips to pieces what he previously built in this fascinating world. The only company that survived the apocalypse appears to be an energy drink manufacturer. A few cans of it can always be seen in Sam’s quarters. You can drink them for stamina. This action is pompously staged in a video sequence. When Sam goes to the bathroom, a large banner with ads for Norman Reedus’ new series appears. Absurd.
In any case, Death Stranding does what only a few in the world of AAA games can do: it polarizes. And for that reason alone, it is an important contribution to the 2019 game year. If you are unsure whether the game is really fun, you should perhaps first look at one of the many playthroughs. Decide after that whether you have the money for this full-price title.
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