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Game review: Hideo Kojima presents Death Stranding

06 Nov 2019
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Hideo Kojima is pretty much a famous name in the video game industry as he ushered in the very popular Metal Gear Solid franchise. After his split with Konami following the release of Metal Gear Solid 5, he now presents to the world a very new IP called Death Stranding starring The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus as the main character.

Even though Death Stranding is often advertised to be an ‘action adventure’ video game, I’d describe this game is an all-new genre in itself. Surely players can use lethal weapons to kill enemies, although the majority of the game is far different to what Metal Gear Solid fans are used to.

Before I begin talking about the gameplay in Death Stranding, I’ll try my best to talk about the game’s very complicated story. The game is set in a post apocalyptic future where the world has suffered an event called the ‘Death Stranding’ where the world of the living has started to merge with the world of the dead.

People and cities are fractured and it’s too dangerous for most of them to travel outside. Aside from needing to avoid ghost-like beings called ‘Beached Things’ (BTs), a special type of rain called Timefall that accelerates aging when it touches things is also plaguing the world.

The general gist of the story is for the character of Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus) to reconnect the cities of America again via the Chiral Network. Bridges is the best man for the job because he’s a special being called a ‘repatriate’ and they can fight back against BTs and can also resurrect themselves from death.

There’s a lot more to the story than this, although I don’t want to spoil any of the details here in this review. Let’s just say there is a ton of twists and turns to the plot and you will want to play the game until the very end to see how the whole story unfolds.

Travelling across the newly named United Cities of America (UCA) is pretty much the bulk of the gameplay as Sam Porter Bridges needs to travel from point A to point B carrying important cargo to reconnect the cities again.

This may sound like a huge fetch quest, but this is what the majority of the gameplay is all about. Bridges will need to walk across tough terrain to get to his destinations and it’s up to the player to find out what the best route to take is.

The gameplay may sound mundane, but it’s actually fun travelling across the world map and seeing all of the obstacles that stand in your way. You might be blocked by a river, a huge mountain, and more and it’s up to you to literally walk around these barriers in order to get to your objective.

Thankfully, you’re not really alone in this journey because the online community can aid you if you need any help. Other players can leave behind supplies like ladders to climb up steep hills, bridges to cross rivers and even vehicles for you to drive. You too can help other players in the same way if you have enough supplies to make resources.

I don’t think I would have enjoyed this game as much as I have if you had to do everything by yourself. The online community helped me a lot and I don’t think I would have been able to complete the game if it weren’t for the helpful supplies that were left over.

There are also many survival elements you have to overcome as Sam Porter Bridges isn’t invulnerable to everything. You will need to make new shoes for him as footwear wears out the more you walk on the tough terrain. Players will also need to take rests during journeys because Bridges will get very tired if he runs out of stamina.

Another thing you need to be aware of is keeping your cargo safe. Avoiding the rain and falling over are just a few of things you need to look out for when you’re out on your long walks!

To make your journey more exciting, there are a few enemies that roam the map to spicen up the gameplay. There is a group of humans called MULEs that like to steal your cargo and you can run away from them, or fight back using your fists or guns.

The other type of enemy that you want to avoid are the aforementioned ghost-like beings called BTs. BTs are mostly invisible, but they can sense when you are around and it’s best to avoid them at all costs. You can choose to run away from them, or fight back using many of the weapons that you can acquire.

That being said, combat does not happen very often in this game and this might make some gamers feel bored. I remember playing this game for the first 20 hours and I only encountered one boss fight and a few scuffles with the MULEs. The bulk of the gameplay in the first half of the game was mostly walking and me watching a ton of cutscenes.

In the second half of the game, things start to pick up although you’re still walking from point A to point B again. I managed to complete the game in around 40 hours, but the gameplay can take you up to 50 to 60 hours if you want to tackle all of the side missions as well.

Graphically, this game looks gorgeous especially if you are playing it on a PS4 Pro. The character models look excellent as the likes of Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen and Lea Seydoux all look like their real life counterparts. I also love the varied locations that you get to visit as the environments look all realistic too.

It goes without saying that Death Stranding is a slow paced video game that won’t appeal to all gamers. If you’re the type of gamer that loves shooters like Call of Duty, this game might not be your cup of tea. It’s an experimental type of game and I’m very interested to see if it will be successful in the long run.

As a whole, I think Death Stranding is a fun and unique game if you want to play something new and different. If you want all-out action, you may want to go out and play something else instead. It’s best to research the game as much as you can before you decide to buy it though.

Verdict: 8.0/10