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Death Stranding review
by XV

Definitely Death Stranding it's a beast of its own, I can't remember where but said something along the lines that it feels like an indie movie with a blockbuster budget, and maybe that might be correct, the only difference is that this is a videogame.

DS is overwhelming in every aspect, from its story to its gameplay, starting with the story, Kojima is a genius in terms of setting a world and making statements or even predictions of our own reality, here in Death Stranding he took it to the next level, when people talk about how MGS is a complex story is because DS hasn't appeared yet, it really overwhelms you with its lore and at times it can be difficult to keep up with all the terminology it uses in its story, I don't want to speak a lot of it because the less you know about it the better, also, I wasn't thrilled with the inclusion of "Hollywood" actors but they surely pay off in a lot of scenes, specially Tommi Earl Jenkins, one of his scenes gave me goosebumps to the next level, it also made my eyes tears a little, they're that good.

The divisive part may be the gameplay, a lot of people said that this is a walking simulator and that may be true at some extent, but is not that simple, the core mechanic to me is that the player goes against the terrain, weather and some hazards, the hazards come as human enemies or BTs (the black beings), but mostly the terrain. In order to progress you need to adjust your inventory and decide what kind of things are you going to take with you, then, depending on how heavy or light is your character, your movement can be from cartoony clumsy to fast as a soccer player, after that you take delivery items from "A" to "B" and repeat till the end of the game, in theory it might sound boring but in practice is really addictive, and once you get to chapter 3 where you get a lot of new items and structures to help you in your journey you'll have a blast. I can't compare DS to any other game but to me, it has a Monster Hunter vibe, where the learning curves are stiff and overwhelming, but once you passed them you'll have an amazing time.

The multiplayer aspect is also incredible, instead of having a competitive experience this is a connection or strand experience where you and your fellow players didn't see each other or play with them directly but help each other with structures or items you construct, i.e. If you set a bridge to cross a river, other players in your server can use it too and also can upgrade it together, this aspect really hit me in a good way, to the point that I even gave away things to my neighborhood in order for everyone to use them. But not everything is perfect with this system, it can at times broke the experience, for example, at least two times I was told that my next delivery would be incredibly hard but, when doing it, I find a lot of things like bridges, power stations or vehicles that made the mission so easy, so it can break the immersion. As for the negative things, I can see how for someone this can be boring, but one needs to keep in mind that this is not a shooter or a stealth game, but at the end it can feel repetitive and at times cheaty, as for the stealth part, I didn't feel it worked that good with the human enemies, the AI is dumb but the mechanics also felt unrefined at times, a similar thing happens to the "other" stealth mode with the BTs, they give you a lot of tension but once you understand how they work, they're for the rest of the game annoying, speaking of BTs the boss fights with this beings are so cool, flashy and epic but they are also broken and easy, it feels that you can't die from them because the game throws a lot of resources like HP or ammo in order for you to don't run out of them, they're also very fun tho' so it depends on your view I guess. My last and maybe more important issue to me is its world, it can felt empty to the point that it feels unfinished, you'll find a lot of people but they're holograms, for the most part, humanity is hidden in the ground and narratively it makes sense but I can't shake the feeling that is more a budget issue than a story issue, also because exploring is dangerous and also unrewarding, you'll find yourself making the same trajectories or following another player's trail to get to your destination.

Certainly Death Stranding is not a masterpiece for me, but I can easily see why it is for another person, for me it was a great time, and every day it passes it makes me think a lot in its themes, characters and my personal narrative with it, I also hardly believe that the passing on time will give its rightful place as a great game.
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»
«Can’t stop playing»
«That ending!»
«OST on repeat»

Other reviews14

This is an amazing game from both an artistic perspective, and a "novel" gameplay perspective. However, if you're not already on board with Hideo Kojima's antics, you might find yourself too frustrated to make it through to the end.
"Death Stranding" deserves some credit for at least having introduced new mechanics. Traveling through locations has been the most tedious side effect of massive open-world videogames, and "Death Stranding" attempts at making it all about the journey.

 This game is about crossing dangerous areas and either deliver or retrieve packages without getting them stolen or damaged. The gameplay dynamics are simple but require careful route planning and equipment selection as long as difficulty increases. The first few hours will be pretty straightforward, but a wide variety of tools, weapons, and means of transport will be unlocked as the story proceeds, asking the player to choose between different approaches for the same mission.

 The most interesting addition to the gameplay is the opportunity to indirectly cooperate with other players online by dropping items on the ground, constructing roads, bridges, and stations to facilitate movement or leaving signs to warn or encourage other porters. Bridges and cars left by other players will save your ass more than once, and your contributions will be rewarded by "Likes" from other players. The more "Likes" you collect, the easier it is to find items and constructions by other porters. As the whole game is about connecting people, I thought this was the most effective means to pay off for the player's effort.

 However, despite the upgrades and different environments, it felt like 50+ delivery missions just for the main story were a bit too much. Missions started to get frustrating over time due to excessive backtracking, the battles being too slow-paced, and incidents like cars and bikes full of packages getting stuck in the rocks halfway. BT's and MULE's are supposed to spice up the deliveries and provide some action, but the battles tend to get Final Fantasy random encounters-level tedious. Transitioning in and out forces you to watch the same cutscenes, and the fight itself is usually clunky and just time-consuming. Side-missions are pretty much rehashes of the main plot tasks with different conditions. I would have probably enjoyed every bit of the campaign if it were 20 hours long, but it proceeds so slowly that I ended up rushing the last few chapters.

 The story and cutscenes are close to movie quality in terms of writing and direction, and effectively give more depth to the game. The whole concept of strands, beaches, DOOMs, and BT's was anything but clear for most of the game and, despite the plot twists being a bit too foreseeable, everything was fascinating enough to keep me going. I wished they could give more space to the supporting characters, though. Most of them just do their appearance, reveal their past, and briefly interact with Sam with little development. All the events are concentrated in the last few missions, and before then we just get to do deliveries, connect cities and listen to dialogues.

 Overall, "Death Stranding" is a partly fresh, partly frustrating gaming experience that will be remembered as an interesting experiment more than the game that set new standards. It started getting addictive after a while, but the frustration factor and absolutely user-unfriendly interface make it one hell of a slow starter.
no words needed
Death Stranding flips the script on the typical traversing and gun play balance in video games. You shoot things from time to time but the focus here is on the journey not the weapons. I found the exploring to be both memorizing and addicting. Said exploration is the delivery method for Kojima's ridiculous story Warner Brothers would pay Christopher Nolan millions to film. You'll either be onboard for were Death Stranding is going or you will quickly tuck and roll. I for one rode it all the day into the sunset and loved it.
«That ending!»
I respect all the positive reviews I've seen and definitely saw quite a lot of promise in the game. I think the design of the equipment, character outfits and the small touches to a lot of the interactions you have give more depth to the world , also the cutscenes are breath taking and made me really interested to know more about where the narrative could possibly go to make sense of what I was witnessing. But when comparing all of the good aspects of the games to my problems with it, it was incredibly easy to drop this game. Firstly the main gameplay loop is not fun, in fact it seems to be purposely mundane and probably the most frustrated in a mainstream game I've been in a decade. Some people say that's the whole point, but if you're reading this review before buying then consider that sentence: It is supposed to be boring, frustrating and mundane and your interactions with others ease that burden. 

The gameplay loop of receiving a package, loading it on to your backpack stack and running through rough terrain to another outpost only to get the same mission and repeat is not fun. I couldn't bare this even when I had podcasts on and had it in the background. My brain simply wasn't stimulated by what was going on and when the main(aka interesting) story threads completely evaporated after 20 hours then I just couldn't find any reason to continue. 

 I became incredibly frustrated with the MULES ,one of the two main enemies you'll encounter. Their backstory is that they are addicted to the likes people that people give them when they steal packages which is just an insanely ham fisted attempt at critique on society. This enemy presented little to no challenge once you learn basically the first move to dispatch of them. You will also quickly learn that due to the small enemy variety, your danger is limited and avoiding enemies is done to avoid irritation instead of actual harm. 

The list of what frustrated me is very long and I normally don't let that bog me down, but when so little else is offered, then it's impossible to not let that be the main impression the game makes on me. 
Death Stranding is my introduction to Hideo Kojima, not to mention Death Stranding was one of the decades most highly anticipated games for most gamers, myself included. But up until the game actually released, no one knew all that much about it. In fact, the more they released about the game, the more bizarre it all seemed. 

Having played and beaten this game, I have to say it's probably one of my favorite games of all time, though it's not for everyone, reading any collection of reviews on the game will prove that. Due to how minimal the information on the game was, no one knew what to make of it. And ultimately once it released it divided fans, and I get it, it's definitely one of the most unique games out there right now. And for that reason I love it.

I don't wanna get too into the story, it's best left for you to play through and experience it. But basically you play as Sam, a delivery man of sorts who is tasked to bring America together after an apocalyptical phenomenon known as the 'death stranding.' I'll leave it at that, because honestly the story, the world, the characters, and the lore is just outstanding. It's complex, but well thought out. Imaginative, original, and unlike anything I've experienced in a game before. 

Graphically this game is also easily one of the best looking games of the year. You traverse through two large open world maps, each with different areas for you to link to one another. And the environments are beautiful, from rushing rivers, green fields, desolate apocalyptical wastelands, and snowy mountains, I never once got tired of the visuals and atmosphere of the game. You truly feel small and insignificant in this large world, but your actions throughout the game prove otherwise, and it's an experience to behold. All of that on top of a fantastic soundtrack filled with indie rock/pop tracks, and it adds to the games atmosphere and sense of wonder even more.

The gameplay focuses heavily on traversing from one destination to another, through varying terrain and different dangerous encounters, and being strategical and smart about how you go about it. You have a variety of tools, weapons, and vehicles at your disposal so you can customize how you want to go about any particular delivery or plot point. And that's the main focus of the game, which I guess is a turnoff to some gamers who were maybe expecting more action and combat. The combat is there, but it's not front and center. In fact, the combat in this game can get rather tedious and clunky. You get the hang of it after awhile, but yeah, it's not a focus. 

As far as negatives I'd have to go with repetition. The main goal is linking up America, and delivering packages, of varying degrees of importance, which sometimes requires you to go back and forth a lot. Especially when it comes to very difficult areas to traverse, it can get annoying. Luckily the story doesn't take you back and forth a lot. There's optional side deliveries that get you 'likes,' which can unlock data on the lore of the game, as well as characters. Getting these 'likes' also gives you access to some customizable options for Sam and his gear. None of this is required, it's just up to your preference. 

Overall though Death Stranding is a masterpiece. Kojima really put his all into this game, and as a result produced one of the best games I've played. I'm speechless and in wonder at how incredible this piece of work is, and I'm excited for what he has in store for us next!
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
What can I say? I adore this game. The story is phenomenal and just what we need during a time where we are so distant as humans. The twist at the end was unexpected and welcomed, I felt a wave of emotion I wasn't expecting. The gameplay is not for everyone and all I heard going into the game was how much work it was. People saying that the first 5 to 10 hours were grueling. I enjoyed the beginning thoroughly and at a time when the game got more intense, thought back to the days where I was just a porter walking through this painstakingly meticulously beautiful world making my first deliveries. 

Yes after the first couple of chapters the game opens up and introduces more familiar mechanics but the walking mechanic is always the star of the show. So much creativity and polish are what I expect from a Kojima game and he didn't let me down. Will go down as one of my favorite games of the decade and a game I will always come back to think about.
Amazing experience! The story, the gameplay, the visual, the acting the music, it all together makes this game fantastic. I finished it a while ago but still can't get my mind out of it.
«Blew my mind»
Piece of art! 
«Blew my mind»
I am a filmmaker who grew up with Kojima's games. I always loved his work, particularly the way in which he is able to be so blatantly on the nose with his influences to the point where they themselves become something of a trademark and a higher artistic statement. 

With that out of the way, I'll just say this: Death Stranding is the best game of 2019 and perhaps the best film of 2019 as well.

So I'm going to start this review with my original thought about the game. It sounds boring as fuck. Delivery boy? No thank you.

Now on to current me, ten hours in, first boss down and oh my god. This game is fucking incredible. I'm no Kojima fan boy, I liked MGS: The Phantom Pain but yea Kojima is just another director to me. This game, I can't even tell you why I bought it, I have no idea. Maybe because I wanted to experience it and treat it as a movie, a visual experience or maybe because deep down I have a massive man crush on Mads Mikkelsen; regardless I bought it and I love it.

I'm about ten hours in and I've been getting "That warm feeling" you get when you experience something great. It's just plain good. Graphically very impressive, voice acting is great (A very big thing for me), But something about this game just clicks.

Never before have fetch quests been so ... I mean just pure fun. Everything about the process is great, from planning your route, distributing your load correctly, dodging BTs, pissing on rocks, building random structures, dodging MULEs, and everything else.

TL;DR This game is fun, this game takes something that should be boring as all hell and flips it on its head. I haven't enjoyed a game this much since Sekiro, and that being a game that is absolutely "my" formula".

So far, I'd recommend this to anyone, especially people who were skeptics like me. It's just good, plain and simple.

Will update as I progress.
«Can’t stop playing»
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»