When Death Stranding first released, I avoided it like the plague. It just looked like making deliveries in a big empty world, and honestly, it came off as a little pretentious.
But the new PlayStation Plus Extra tier subscription has provided me an opportunity to try a lot of games I wouldn’t normally be willing to risk my limited spare change on. I can now afford to try them without feeling like I have to justify the expense.
Death Stranding was one such title. I never would have dropped money on it because I felt like I wouldn’t finish it. It comes off as dull and lifeless.
Some of my initial impression wasn’t really wrong.
After a really long, really confusing intro sequence, you’re set free into a large open space with very little in it. There’s virtually nothing between your delivery locations except for the terrain and the weather.
You rarely talk to people face to face, most of your interactions are with a holographic display while you stand in a delivery bay outside their shelter.
You do run into enemies once in a while, either BTs (ghosts) or MULEs (bandits) but it’s not very often, and they appear in very specific locations so they’re very easily avoided once you’ve discovered them.
And the story takes a really long time to take shape, you’re given almost zero information and dumped into the deep end of the world’s unique jargon. The first half of the game is a stream of confusing dialogue and cutscenes that often just leave you thinking WTF.
So I’ve done nothing but whine, I know. But I was wrong about not finishing the game, the thing is, there’s this indescribable drive to keep playing, to make one more delivery.
The postman gameplay often overshadows the story and it can be quite irritating when a story sequence holds up your delivery. Especially when you’ve trudged across incredibly uneven terrain carrying way too much on your back.
It’s a really good looking game, quite visually impressive. The acting talent is top notch as well, with impressively detailed character models that legitimately look like the voice talent.
The soundtrack is high quality as well, very atmospheric. A new song will fire up as you get close to an important destination or cross into a new region, and it really suited the depressing and solitary environments… I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, it just is, I guess.
You do actually do more than just trudge around though. It takes some time to get started but as you build up your network and gain influence from your deliveries, you unlock new features and gear to make your life easier, equipment, vehicles, weapons and devices to get across obstacles more easily, ranging from bridges, zip lines, recharge stations to full on roads and safe houses.
Getting the materials there isn’t always easy, but once you’ve constructed all the infrastructure it’s a whole lot easier to get around making your deliveries quicker and more importantly, safer. Other players can use them as well, so investing in the infrastructure helps everyone.
Worst comes to worst, you can always entrust your cargo to another player. You can’t interact directly with them, but you an leave them weapons and gear, and any parcels you get too far away from, will automatically appear in another player’s world as lost cargo.
You’ll also get more gear to transport your goods with.
Exo-skeletons make it possible to carry larger loads and depending on the model, can provide faster travel on foot or better balance for when you need to cross rough terrain.
You’ll also get access to carrier bots to follow behind you as well as floating carts for those really big deliveries, and eventually, you’ll get delivery drones, however using these generally roughs up the goods a bit so it does affect your delivery rating.
It’s not just getting there you have to worry about either. The rain damages everything it touches, your gear, your vehicles, your constructions and of course, your packages. Getting to your destination is only half the battle, and if you’re carrying fragile cargo, even a small bump or stepping off a small shelf can damage the goods, maybe even ruin them.
Getting by the enemies can be tricky. One or two bandits can be disabled but a horde of them will attack your cargo and run off with whatever they can grab.
And in some areas, the BTs (ghostly things) will appear and stalk you. At first, all you can do is try to sneak past with the aide of your BB (Border Baby, which I won’t go into too much as BB has strong ties to the story), but you’ll eventually get weapons to deal with them although honestly, they’re always a struggle regardless. I often found it easier to avoid these areas.
The narrative will leave you scratching your head until the very end, with some of the most important revelations only being revealed in the final sequence. Basically, until the very-late game, you know so little about what’s happening that it can be quite confusing.
I don’t know if I’d call it a new genre as Kojima claims. It’s basically a glorified fetch quest really, but it’s surprisingly addictive to play. The time just kind of disappears. You always seem to have a project on the go, and plenty to distract you on the way.
It’s not the best game I’ve ever played by a long stretch, but it was interesting in its own way, even though it’s a little slow. I hesitate to say it was fun, but there is certainly something addictive about it that makes it difficult to put down.
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About the Creator
Doing my best to keep on keeping on. I’m a quiet guy with a quiet life and I like it that way.
I like spending time with my family, cooking, fantasy fiction, video games, anime and archery.
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