Art & Life

‘Death Stranding’, a Tight-Knit Game Review

Norman Reedus in "Death Stranding"
Render courtesy of Kojima Productions. The protagonist, Sam Porter, as portrayed by and modeled after Norman Reedus, looks into the distance.

“Death Stranding” is a very special videogame. The first title developed by Kojima Productions, a game developer named after an ex-Konami employee who is well-known for his affinity for movies, and practically making his games feel like one, but with solid gameplay to boot. This videogame provides amazing graphics, amazing story, and unique online functionality in its game-play to truly stand out amongst the crowd. Considering its recent PC port, I thought I might as well dive into it, but I was playing through the PS4 version.  

The graphics for this game were rendered on the Decima engine, the same one used for “Horizon: Zero Dawn”, a game I hope to cover soon with the given time I have. When I began to play this, I couldn’t help but briefly think that I was just watching real footage from an HD Camera. The rocks and sand have such gorgeous detail, the grass a vibrantly refreshing yet appropriately colored green, and subtle details such as foot prints and water drops helping to immerse the player as they trek from point A to point B.  

“Death Stranding” has a story that can hook you easily with a star-studded cast, the main character ‘Sam’ being portrayed by Norman Reedus and being modeled directly after him, similar to ‘Deadman’ who is portrayed by the well-known director Guillermo Del Toro, which is interesting considering him and Hideo Kojima (head of Kojima Productions) had a history of being together for the development of cancelled horror game, “P.T.” The themes in the story revolve around connectivity, the concept of death and humanity, human endurance, and even aspects of the supernatural, to a degree.  

The game works in a way many people do not expect. The game-play loop revolves around your job as a porter to traverse the terrain in order to deliver cargo to people in need ever since an apocalyptic event, causing everyone to stay inside their homes. (For a game released in late 2019, it’s scary how relevant it is, considering recent events.) Your movement will be affected by the weight and arrangement of the cargo on your back, and the player will need to adjust with the trigger buttons for weight. Thankfully there is an option to automatically arrange your luggage.  

What really boosts the gameplay is its use of online. Whenever you play, you and people around the world basically share the same “world”, being able to see each other’s structures, signs, and vehicles, allowing for easier transport or even charging stations for items you unlock later in the game. For each item you see from someone else, you can award “likes” to them that the person who placed them will receive, like in social media! This mechanic is odd, but it works very well with the theme of togetherness that the game goes for, and when you get likes, you will notice it, and get almost the same dopamine surge as you would with real social media.  

If you want to play a game that offers an intriguing experience unlike many others, with the high production quality and story to boot, while also reaching a price point of around $60 new or $30 used (considering how it isn’t exactly a brand new release), I would highly recommend one to search for a cheaper used copy, but make sure to disinfect it though! Overall, a 9/10 for its amazing details, gameplay that picks up once the player unlocks items and upgrades, and really great online features that I had never expected to see but was delighted to experience. However, I must warn you, there are some very strange advertisement things with Monster Energy drinks and Norman Reedus’s “Ride” show, so I gotta knock the “10” point off for that.  

Image courtesy of Kojima Productions