Kojima Productions’ ‘Death Stranding’ (2019) Video Game Review

Death Stranding has been out for a months now, and it has had some negativity attached to it, with some reviewers saying it’s a glorified walking simulator. To them I say (*cue British accent*), “Poppycock!” and also yes, they may be slightly right.

From IGN:

The Death Stranding was a cataclysmic event in which ghostly “Beached Things,” or BTs, suddenly appeared in the world of the living, triggering a massive amount of simultaneous explosion-like “voidouts” all over the world that eradicated everything caught up in them, leaving nothing but craters in their wake. 

Death Stranding is an action game essentially about connection. It’s your job to collect, deliver and reconnect the world… at least, the parts you are able to travel to. By foot and through a small array of vehicles, your character, Sam Porter (voiced and acted by Norman Reedus: The Walking Dead franchise), must save the very broken world. Accompanying you is your BB, who is able to see the things that go bump in the night. You will relay on BB a lot. So, look after him.

Talking about things that go bump in the night, the director of Hellboy (2004) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is one of your protagonists. Guillermo del Toro, the man, the myth, the legend, is a guest character. He’s with you quite a bit, and it’s glorious.

Death Stranding, Norman Reedus, Guillermo del Toro, BB
BB in all of its glory

Death Stranding was created, written and directed by Hideo Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear Solid universe and Silent Hill Ten. There’s no doubt that he is a creative genius and loves to push the boundaries of gaming.

So, to clarify, Death Stranding has Norman Reedus as your anti-hero, and Guillermo del Toro as an NPC. It was directed by a man whose game, Metal Gear Solid Two, tells you that have been playing too long, and you will lose all your saved data if you don’t switch your console off right then and there. If that hasn’t sealed the deal for you as to the greatness of this game, then come with me as I entice you further.

Artwork poster for Death Stranding

The gameplay itself is open world and very interactive. You learn very quickly what you can and can’t do, as well as how to carry things the right way, which can affect you physically. Your mental state is a factor. You have to rest and look after yourself. You have to upgrade your gear and plan ahead for the terrain you are about to travel across. It’s like you are a Sims character in an open world with invisible beings that want to kill you.

The world is pretty empty, because almost everything is dead. Where that would make some games unplayable, in here, it’s needed. Because there are multiple layers to this game. I finished my story in 66 hours, and I barely scratched the surface with the side missions. So that gives you an idea of the amount of time you will run your little socks off.

A familiar face with BB

Don’t get me wrong. You are a postman or FED EX delivery man of sorts. But your job feels important. When you hook one town to another, there’s a sense of accomplishment. When you deliver meds to the pregnant lady who lives on top of a fucking mountain, you’ll feel like you have achieved something.

An open-world still.

By far, the best thing about Death Stranding is its atmosphere. It’s dripping with wet feelings. In a one-half hour of gameplay, you can go from fighting a tar monster to running through the green fields with not a care in the world. Of course, you are accompanied by your very own soundtrack to set the mood and tone. The score and soundtrack are excellent by the way. Buy it, buy it now!

There are negatives for this game. There’s two, for myself at least. As with the Metal Gear Solid games – especially later ones – there is an incredible amount of cut scenes. Like, a movie’s length of them. Also, I’m not sure about replayability. Once you have gone through and know about the story, you probably won’t want to put yourself through the trauma again. But time will tell on that one. Maybe in a few months, I’ll pick it up again for another playthrough.

The voice acting is fantastic and the list of talent is massive. From the actors to the game makers, all involved are at the top of their game.

Final thoughts

Death Stranding is an open-world game with a story that is simple and complex at the same time. By the time you finish the game, you will understand everything and yet still be confused. If that’s your thing, then look no further. Death Stranding is awaiting you… as is BB.

I’m giving Death Stranding a 9/10.

About Ruben Lee Shaw

Movies have been a part of Ruben's life for as long as he can remember. His first film experience was E.T. when he was 5 in a dark grotty cinema in Amsterdam (at least that is how he remembers it). He grew up in South Africa and studied Film and Television production in the UK, which is where he now resides with his stunning wife, 2 interesting teenagers, a fat cat, a crazy dog, and sometimes a dark passenger, (his very imaginative imagination). He has worked on both features and short films and has experience as a journalist/reviewer for films, tv, and games. In 2016 he created his own super Geeky brand called The Ruby Tuesday.  Ruben has a love for horror and things that go bump in the night, although he himself will admit to being a scaredy-cat. Ruben's first teen-fantasy-horror novel is to be released in 2018. Some of his favorite creatives and their creations are Stephen King (It and on writing), Dean Koontz, (Odd Thomas series) Ridley Scott (Alien), C. S. Lewis (Narnia and Screwtape letters) John Carpenter (The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China), James Herbert (Rats) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labrythn, Hellboy and The Book of Life). Ruben continues to push the boundaries of his imagination and intends to release three novels and short films in the coming years.

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