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Death Stranding review
by x_manicure_x

"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.

Other reviews17

walking: the game
«Buggy as hell»
«Disappointment of the year»
I have a lot of praise for Death Stranding despite some major flaws, the biggest being its writing. There was a lot of intrigue in the beginning, but then the characters started dumping exposition in long-winded monologues and repeated this information over, and over, AND OVER again to the point I was getting frustrated and less interested as it went on, especially when it brought the gameplay to a grinding halt. Whenever Deadman would say something like, "Do you want to know how...?" my reaction was more or less:
It eventually picks up much-needed momentum during the very last chapter, but it takes a long time to get there and my patience was dangling on a thread by then. Scenes that were meant to be emotional were so melodramatic that it became unintentionally funny and/or eye-roll inducing, the fourth wall breaking got some of the same reactions. Some moments, it was cute and endearing, but seeing an advertisement for that Norman Reedus show made me audibly groan. I was flabbergasted by seeing the Monster on the table for the first time as I thought stylistically it clashed with the tone that was being established, but eventually accepted it and thought, "It must be saying something about capitalism in America?" Though that might be giving Kojima a lot more credit than what he actually deserves, I think he just wants to show off stuff he likes and had some kind of deal.
There's one task of note I wanna bring up and it's the one with the junk dealer. The dialogue was so poorly communicated, that I genuinely thought I was fetching the dude's daughter and then got really confused when I realized it was his girlfriend. It got way more focus than it needed and the acting was terrible, but at least reading the email drama afterward was amusing. 

Even though I'm trashing on the writing, I don't think it's a complete dumpster fire as it has really interesting concepts and themes. The story would have benefited from having a real talented writer at the helm, but since having someone better than Kojima at the task wasn't an option, he could've at least presented even more of the storytelling through gameplay because that's where he excels. The game design is surprisingly engrossing and immersive. As tedious as your objectives are, the variety of circumstances that goes into each delivery keeps things dynamic throughout and whenever I get through the hardships that are presented, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt from the plethora of other games I've played. There's a great balance of relaxation and tension, the landscapes are stunning, and the whole isolated multiplayer experience is unique and well-executed. I had a few failed missions, but there was only one moment that pissed me off for being unfair. Every other time was fair and it taught me to be better prepared.

I love Death Stranding. Even if I came into it expecting strong storytelling and was left disappointed by that aspect, my expectations of dull and simple gameplay were exceeded by great design and a satisfying feedback loop. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but I think its experimentation is important in expanding the medium of video games as an art form. I look forward to playing the end game.
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«Blew my mind»
«Sit back and relax»
Was a bit of a disappointment but still a good game with a nice pleasant soundtrack  
«OST on repeat»
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.
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.
5/5
«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. 
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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!
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«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»
«Underrated»