Video Game Review: Death Stranding

Inventing a New Wheel Altogether

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

Three decades ago Japanese game design auteur Hideo Kojima released his landmark debut game, “Metal Gear”. “Metal Gear” was all about stealth, avoiding conflicts and strategizing around problems. At first, his design team wasn’t sure it would catch on as a concept and pushed for an action focus but were later proven wrong.

With that release, Kojima pioneered the modern-day stealth-action genre and went on to create a second “Metal Gear” game and six6 “Mmetal Ggear Ssolid” titles before leaving his former company Konami. In 2015 he started his own independent Kojima Pproductions and at E3 2016 announced his first original product since “Policenauts” in 1993:, “Death Stranding”.

Starring Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux, & Troy Baker, “Death Stranding” follows Sam Porter Bridges (Reedus) a porter (courier) in a post- apocalyptic America. Following a near extinction- level event that wiped out most of humanity and left those survivors isolated in their own bunkers,. Tthe world is plagued by black, semi-transparent, tar- like ghosts called Beached Things (BT’s)BT’s (Beached Things). These creatures are the souls of those killed who haven’t passed on and can drag living people to their parallel dimension. Sam is tasked by the President to reconnect the isolated bunkers and townships while heading west on foot to rescue his sister from a cell of terrorists hellbent on finishing what the previous event started by ending humanity. 

Like with the original Metal Gear, Kojima has begun to pioneer a new type of game. Dubbing it a “Strand Game,” “Death Stranding” has the player not focused on combat but rather connection. The primary mechanic of the game is delivering packages and hooking up bunkers to this game’s version of the Internet. During your deliveries, Sam will have to navigate harsh weather, rough terrain and a gamut of enemies attempting to kill Sam or steal his packages. It’s when enemies accost Sam or hunt him down that the player has the option to run or fight. The game allowsallots a number of options for non-lethal combat and heavily discourages violent combat. 

The acting in this game cannot go understated. Everyone is giving performances with the standout being Mikkelsen. Aside from 4 chapters we see him only through flashbacks; it is largely him acting alone having to play off his setting and his own acting ability.

The music as well is on another level. Ludwig Forsell returns to work with Kojima after his work on “Metal Gear Solid V” and delivers a masterwork of tracks to make the world feel alive and give the cutscenes the proper emotional throughline. The music does the job music should in a video game, accenting the emotional tone of the scene at hand and heightening the mood where needed. Boss battles feel tense and engaging. The emotionally hard- hitting moments are especially affected by the music. The music flows through the player and keeps them engaged. In addition, to that there is a slew of licensed tracks on display here. 

Overall this game’s story is what will keep players engaged;, the cutscenes are long., Tthe final sequence of cutscenes was around two2 hours long so a lot of the focus is the story. With that said the gameplay loop is relaxing and very much a fun game to come home to after a long day. It’s a paced slow burn that focuses solely on the story and taking one’s time to soak up every inch of the world created by Kojima. In a lane all its own but wholly enjoyable. A must play. 

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