In the post-apocalyptic United States, everything has been ravaged by a largely unexplained phenomenon called the “Death Stranding,” from a PS4 video game released by Kojima Productions on Nov. 18, 2019. “Death Stranding” is the first game from Director Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions after their disbandment from Konami in 2015.
The death stranding wiped out cities and almost all life while opening a gate between the worlds of the living and the dead. The ghostly animal-like apparitions that you see in the game called “BTs” haunt forests, mountains. Certain humans called repatriates are able to return to life from a strange underwater space known as the Seam.
Sam, the main character of the game (portrayed by Norman Redus), is one of these repatriates. He is what people like to call a post-apocalyptic delivery man, as that is what you do for most of the game. Thankfully for those who are going to play the game, the gameplay is more straightforward than the story.
In the game, you play as Sam and carry a small baby in an orange bottle strapped to his chest. The baby is called “BB” and is used as a mechanic in the game.
“BB” helps Sam identify when BT’s are around. Most of the time when you are traversing the landscape it is unnerving. “BB” cries when he gets scared. It can be because there is a danger that he detects ahead or because you keep slipping and falling.
The crying from “BB” can be creepy at times and the fact that his cries come from the speaker of the PS4 controller makes it that much more unsettling. When you first start up the game you may find the concept of “BB” strange. It's a baby that you keep in a jar and all he is really used for is detecting the bad guys that you encounter in the world.
Eventually, you will become more attached to the character as there are mechanics in which you must bond with him. You have to rock him whenever he is upset and you get better delivery scores when you keep him happy. During certain points in the game where Sam and “BB” are separated, it feels like there is something important missing.
Bridges, the company you work for, will provide you a package, and you have to deliver it on foot. Like most video game characters, Sam can carry an incredible amount of stuff. Unlike most games though, Sam has to account for everything he has to carry. Before you leave to take deliveries across the U.S. you have to carefully arrange your load so Sam can stay balanced. Most of the game you are traversing the uneven landscape, and due to the landscape, packages can be hard to deliver.
Sam has to stay balanced to keep his cargo safe. To do this you have to adjust the straps on your back. The trigger buttons on the PS4 controller handle each side, so if Sam starts tipping to the left, you hit the left trigger and he tightens up his backpack to keep steady. Even though all you’re really doing is walking, you need to stay focused. One small slip, and your cargo can be ruined. At times, “Death Stranding” can feel like a big-budget remake of the ragdoll browser game, QWOP.
Your gear is also an important part of your experience. You will need to use ladders, ropes, trucks, motorcycles, and other items that will make traversing the landscape easier. “Death Stranding” is many things but it is most mysterious. By the end of the game, I still couldn’t say that I understood what was happening. When I thought I was finally starting to understand everything, the story became more confusing.
It is a very long game — the story itself is upwards of 50 hours. It is not a game that makes itself easy to enjoy and not everyone who plays the game will like it. The beginning of the game is slow which makes it lose a lot of its early players. In the early portions, you can see yourself mostly delivering packages over distances that make you say “please let's get this over with already”.
Early conversations between Sam and other characters are filled with many phrases and words that won't even make sense to the player, even after the game comes to a close. Although there are a lot of confusing aspects in the game, the lore is interesting enough for players to become engrossed in it.
“Death Stranding” is a game that seems to fight with every second that you have the controller in your hand.
The nonsensical dialogue can have the same effect on you over time. In all honesty, this game can be boring and the cutscenes can be the most interesting parts of the game, but there is also beauty and heart within its story that will be worth discovering if you can stick through all the boring stuff.
To some, it is disappointing that you won't get all the answers to the questions you have throughout the game. It is not easy to play this game and sometimes it isn't easy to enjoy it. You will have to suspend your disbelief often to fully enjoy the exciting moments in the game. But for a specific type of player, the exhausting journey will be worth it.
Caitlin Scott is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Caitlin69123118