Well, where on earth do I begin with this Death Stranding review? The PS4 exclusive, Death Stranding, was released today (8th November 2019). I’ve eagerly been awaiting it’s release since it was announced.
I am a massive Hideo Kojima fan, so I had extremely high hopes for this title. Before we begin, I still don’t know how I feel about this game, which seems a common theme for Death Stranding players.
It goes without saying, but there’s going to be some spoilers ahead. Hold tight as this ride is a strange one! Let’s take a peek at my first-look Death Stranding review.
Who Is Sam Porter?
Sam Porter, also known as Sam Porter Bridges, Sam Bridges, and various other aliases is the main character in Death Stranding. He is a delivery man and is portrayed by the legend that is Norman Reedus.
I make deliveries. That’s all.Sam
Graphically, the character and Death Stranding as a whole is absolutely stunning. There’s no question about it and I find myself in awe of everything I see and watching in Kojima’s title.
Corpse Disposal Team 6 (CDT6)
After meeting up with an operative from Corpse Disposal Team 6, things take a turn for the worst. Sam and the operatives end up surrounded by BTs after one of them is trapped underneath a vehicle.
Sam gets caught in something called a voidout which is an explosion leaving a very large crater behind. The voidout is initiated by a Colossal Catcher who devours one of the Corpse Disposal Team 6 operatives.
The whole thing is VERY messy, but incredibly captivating to watch. However, I find myself indulging in a lot more cinematics than one might like to at this stage.
Given a request from Deadman to deliver morphine, Sam soon realises this delivery job is actually for his mother. His mother is Bridget, the President of the United States.
After they are reunited, Bridget tries to convince Sam to join her mission to reconnect America. However, he isn’t too keen on doing this! In pure desperation, Bridget clambers out of her bed which causes her monitors and respirator to disconnect.
She unfortunately succumbs to uterine cancer in front of Sam. Following this heartfelt scene, Bridget makes a contract (unknown to Sam) which requires him to assist the UCA and Bridges. The goal is to reconnect America.
Death Stranding Introduction
By this point, I’ve played just over 2 hours of Death Stranding. My mind is blown! The game really is very strange, but somehow utterly captivating. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I love it, but I want to keep playing.
Hideo Kojima is well-known for his film-like cinematics in video games. In an interview with the BBC, he said Kojima Productions may venture into filmmaking.
Death Stranding makes the transitions between cinematics and gameplay seamless. Sometimes it’s difficult to even know whether you’re about to take control, or watch another 10 minute clip.
I’m not complaining though. Anyone that’s played a Metal Gear Solid game will know what they’re in for.
Death Stranding’s introduction was frankly beautiful. Seeing the title screen after what I had experience prior gave me goosebumps, and I was eager to get back in the driving seat.
Fetch Quests and Side Missions
After the long introduction and captivating story setup, it was time to find out what the game was really about. I wanted to give you some idea of the weird happenings in my first look Death Stranding review.
If you’re looking for puzzles, action, or fast-paced gameplay, this game might not be for you.
Essentially, Death Stranding is full of what I like to dub ‘fetch quests’. This is where you collect an item (in this case packages) and deliver them to someone for some kind of reward or gratification.
There’s around 70 main story missions which are set out in the same way. Fetch item from location X and delivery to location Y; rinse and repeat.
The game does introduce some exceptions though, but these mainly introduce basic controls in combat scenarios, boss-fights, etc. You’ll find some variation in the side missions, but again these are fetch-based quests.
Death Stranding Gameplay
Following the title sequence, you’re tasked with delivering Sam’s Mother’s dead body to the incinerator. You’ll quickly be introduced to the concept of inventory weight here.
Every item you hold (cargo, weapons, tools) will have a load bearing effect on Sam. You’ll need to balance your own weight, along with what you’re carrying. This is done by holding the two PS4 triggers R2 and L2, whilst moving the thumbstick so as Sam doesn’t topple to his demise.
Whilst this seems like quite a unique experience at first, and a level of detail I’ve yet to encounter in a game, it shortly becomes very boring. A lot of effort is required on the player’s behalf just to walk a few meters up a slope without Sam falling over.
Thankfully, if you go into the inventory menu, there’s a game-changing auto-arrange option. This means the cargo is arranged on Sam’s body in the correct way for him to move without flopping down a hill. Hurrah!
I’m not sure why anyone would choose not to have this option, it literally saved me from going mad. It doesn’t completely stop Sam from having a wobble if you try to carry too much, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Making The Game More Enjoyable
After what seems like hours (I think maybe 9 or 10 to be exact), the game becomes much more enjoyable. I was introduced to something called auto-paver which allows certain areas of land to be flattened out. This offers smooth roads, vehicles, and gadgets!
You can read this handy guide by IGN on how to use the auto-paver. These features certainly made it easier to get from X to Y, making the game a lot more bearable.
Combat and Weapons
Although Death Stranding doesn’t offer the same level of combat as the likes of Metal Gear Solid V, it certainly breaks the monotonous gameplay up.
The tools are actually quite fun, satisfying some might say. If you want to get yourself out of a sticky situation, you could turn to the Bola Gun. This will immobilize an enemy for a few moments whilst Sam scurries away. On the other hand, aim for the neck and they’ll be knocked out for a good while!
My Thoughts So Far
I’m going to give you my thoughts so far following my Death Stranding review (first-look). I’ve only played about 15 hours of Death Stranding, so I won’t give it a definitive summary just yet.
At the moment I feel there’s an imbalance to the game. I really want to love it, but I’m not sure I can right now. The landscape and world that Death Stranding is set in is unrivaled. It’s simply stunning and I can’t get enough of the graphics and story.
Sadly, for me, the game has been somewhat tarnished by it’s gameplay. I find it monotonous and actually pointless in places. On first look, some feature did seem quite unique, but they quickly became very annoying.
However, the game’s multiplayer aspect seems fascinating. At this point, the gameplay isn’t going to stop me wanting more. Perhaps that’s what Kojima wanted; a fascinatingly confusing and weird game that could be comparable to Marmite. You either love it, or hate it, or… both.