Let me start by saying that Death Stranding is my first Hideo Kojima game – Although I have heard a lot of good things about the Metal Gear series, I’ve never actually got around to playing them yet. As such, I was really hyped for Death Stranding to finally get released on PC, by publisher 505 Games, as it meant I had a chance to experience his latest game (as I don’t own a PS4).
I’ve wanted to play Death Stranding since hearing about it when it launched on console last year, although I didn’t really have an idea of what to expect from it. Well, despite having to walk around a lot whilst delivering packages without falling over…
The End of The World?
Death Stranding introduces us to Sam Bridges, a courier (Porter) who oddly prefers to stay alone. You see, the problematic thing here is that something dangerous befell the whole world and nothing is the same as it used to be. Humans are close to extinction and besides enemies, there is barely anyone around anymore. In the very beginning, Sam happens to meet a mysterious woman and it’s immediately obvious that some sort of creature is haunting them. Despite not being able to actually see them, besides their large footprints, Sam is able to sense them. Regardless, he decides to help to connect different parts of the world, so there will be some hope left.
A Slow Start of The Plot
This game threw me right into the events with very little explanation. Even when the creatures were introduced, I had no idea what they were supposed to be as they are invisible. It’s noticeable that the beginning of the game is meant to be confusing, without giving the player a proper explanation. However, when I went further into the game, I began to understand the world of Death Stranding a lot more.
This leads me to the next point: The plot. It was hard for me to get into the story at the beginning, probably due to the lack of explanation and really slow pacing, but as soon as I got the gist of it, it became more enjoyable. The opening five hours or so revolve around simply delivering packages to various people in the wastelands, slowly making your way across the open-world as the story is slowly drip-fed to you.
Although I had a hard time in the beginning due to the slow start, I took this time as an opportunity to get used to the gameplay of Death Stranding. That sounds a little bit odd given it’s mostly just walking around and delivering items, however, it’s not as simple as it sounds…
Is Death Stranding A Walking Simulator?
My answer would be yes and no. Whilst there are a lot of elements of typical walking simulators implemented within this game, it works differently as walking isn’t just simply pressing a button and moving around. In fact, it actually took me a while to get used to the gameplay as there are a lot of things I had to pay attention to. When travelling through the area it’s really easy to lose your balance, fall down, and damage the cargo as a result. The world is very uneven, containing lots of stones, mounds and lakes which makes Sam about as stable as a Fall Guy! Luckily, there are button prompts for when it gets tricky, so I could react to it easier, although not falling down gets harder the more cargo you carry as the physics and gravity are very realistic.
In addition to that, there are other obstacles such as rivers the player eventually has to cross – this is where I discovered that stamina is critical within Death Stranding. When crossing rivers without the use of tools, the player runs out of stamina very fast, although it’s recoverable when standing still. Additionally, when the player runs out of stamina, they can rest, as long as there are no dangers available, or go back to their private room to fill up their stats. However, I strongly advise you make use of the craftable tools at your disposal as it’s easy to get washed away within the rivers, dropping all your cargo as it floats past you right before your very eyes!
You’ll also gain access to vehicles once you’ve played a number of hours by foot, unlocking faster travel and the ability to carry more packages by piling them on your bike or shoving them in your jeep. Although this makes it quicker and easier in some instances, delivering packages to the top of steep mountains, over deep ravines, and in the middle of a rocky environment is still quite tricky and it’s easy to get your vehicle stuck or have it break down on you. This is why I always carried portable floating pallets with me, so I could empty my vehicle and carry on via foot when I inevitably lose access to (or break) my vehicle!
Talking about dangers, as aforementioned, there are enemies present throughout the game as well as the environmental hazards. One of them would be the BTs, the invisible creatures that appear during rain. I found these types of enemies very scary and couldn’t help but feel on the edge when the weather started to change. Luckily, the player will obtain a BB quite early in the game, the infamous baby encased within a container on your chest. With its help, I could see the creatures for a short time when I was close to them, although it was still nerve-wracking to walk past them.
At times, holding your breath is critical, although it’s obvious that Sam cannot perform that ability for a very long time. When getting spotted by the BTs, they drag the player away to a small area with a mini-boss. Luckily, it’s fairly easy most of the time to escape by just leaving the area.
Aside from these fantastical creatures, there is another type of enemy within Death Stranding: The Mules. These are wasteland bandits who own areas of land which they roam, looking for stranded and unfortunate Porters to attack. Sometimes I couldn’t avoid stepping into their territory, and whilst they’re not as scary as the BTs, as they have a normal human form, I still wasn’t eager of getting spotted by them. You see, when getting hit by them they can damage the cargo and even steal them when the player gets knocked out, which turned out to be rather annoying. Luckily, defeating Mules is much easier as Sam can simply attack them normally, unlike the BTs which require actual tools such as bombs.
Death Stranding also contains some boss fights, aside from the ones you get dragged into by the BTs. I found them to be quite impressive when it comes to their designs and they made me feel nervous at times. I liked these battles, regardless of how stressful some of them were for me, and I even spotted a statue of the boss I defeated in my private room, which felt quite rewarding.
After connecting with an area, the player can use constructions, ladders, ropes, etc. from other players. In that sense, Death Stranding does have multiplayer elements, but at the same time, it’s not the regular mode of playing online together. To appreciate the help of others, the player can like the objects. However, it’s possible to just disable this feature or play in offline mode if desired. This feature helped me a lot of times so it was definitely useful, although I can understand why others may prefer no additional help (to make it more challenging). Similarly, there are various difficulty modes available the player can change anytime in-game.
Graphics, Soundtracks and their Immersion
One of my favourite things about the game is its visuals. The environments look stunning and when the game zooms in the face or bodies of the characters, everything looks crisp, clear and highly detailed. I really admired the graphics during the cutscenes due to their excellent facial expressions which made the characters feel genuine to me. Death Stranding truly is a piece of art when it comes to the presentation. Additionally, the soundtrack was pleasant as well and I loved listening to the tracks when I was travelling through the areas as some of them are quite emotional.
Also, Death Stranding on PC introduced the Photo Mode (which is now on PS4). I didn’t really use it that much but it allows you to further appreciate the love and dedication which went into creating this beautiful game.
Although I had no issues with the gameplay, the game didn’t properly work for me when I was trying to play it above 1080p. It was very annoying as the game kept crashing no matter what I did, so I ended up lowering the resolution. However, the game itself ran fine once I’d dropped it so the game may not be well-optimised for playing on higher resolutions? At least the crashing issues were not present at all in 1080p, but I hope I’m able to run it at 4K with no issues at some point.
**On a side note, the devs are continuing to update the game (an update dropped yesterday as well), so it’s best to check out the Steam Forums for updates on any technical issues which may or may not be present in the latest build**
I enjoyed discovering the world in Death Stranding and although the gameplay didn’t seem ‘special’ at first, it ended up being much more complex than I initially thought. Sadly, the story does take a while to pick up, however, as soon as my confusion got untangled it became more enjoyable for me. My favourite thing about this game is the stunning environmental and character graphics which made it a joy for me to traverse through the areas, even if I was mostly simply delivering cargo. That being said, Death Stranding is an entertaining game, with an interesting premise, which I recommend to anyone who is looking for something more unique to experience.
- - Stunning environment and graphics
- - Catchy soundtracks
- - Challenging walking that requires its player to think about every step
- - Terrifying enemies
- - A unique online mode
- - The story takes a while to pick up
- - I had crashing issues when playing on higher resolutions