Death Stranding Review: I'll be waiting for you on the beach

The editors thank Sony for the kindly provided game for review.

Rope and stick - two

the most ancient instrument invented by man.
A rope to attract the good. A stick to drive away the bad.
Kobo Abe

Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima is famous forFirst of all, with its game series Metal Gear Solid. After breaking up with Konami in 2019, Kojima “rebuilt” his Kojima Productions as an independent studio and announced a partnership with Sony. It immediately became known that the studio was starting work on a new project, which eventually became Death Stranding. By the way, even then there was information that this would be a temporary PS4 exclusive. Hideo Kojima's fame has now expanded far beyond the gaming industry. Everyone and everyone joked about him and his new game Death Stranding. Thanks to unusual announcements, a number of the first trailers, in which little could be understood by famous actors, a peculiar aura of mystery formed around the game. This added excitement around Death Stranding, but also, to some extent, played a cruel joke. Closer to the release, Kojima began to demonstrate to the public gameplay videos in which all the main game mechanics were shown. The game designer was completely honest with the public. But the public had already managed to think of hidden meanings and was waiting for tricks. As a result, the game after the release received quite conflicting reviews. It seems, mainly - because of too high expectations. In any case, the editors gg I could not pass by such a sensational project. We decided to try out the game and make our own impression.

United Cities of America

After the mystical global catastrophe thatcalled the “Death Stranding”, the world we are used to has ceased to exist. The line between the world of the living and the dead has been erased. Humanity is facing complete extinction. Across the world, from the other world to the living world "Creatures" climb, who drag the living with them. Their appearance is accompanied by the so-called temporal rain, which accelerates the passage of time. Everything that fell under it very quickly gets old. Temporal rain is preceded by an inverted rainbow in the sky. The creatures feed on the dead in the stage of necrosis, which occurs 48 hours after death.

The United States of America turned into ruins withseveral so-called “nodal” cities that formed the new “state” of the United Cities of America (UCA), but after certain events became fragmented and almost completely connected with each other. Survivors are extremely reluctant to leave their shelters. Of course, in such a situation, the only link between the surviving “cities” (which are underground bunkers) are couriers. One of these couriers is the protagonist, Sam Porter Bridges, a former employee of Bridges. His role was played by Norman Reedus.

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Sam has to unite everything among themselvessurviving humanity, of course, for the sake of the highest goal - survival. Sam will unite all the surviving settlements with the help of a chiral network (a peculiar variation on the Internet), simultaneously delivering various cargoes throughout the virtual world of Death Stranding. Yes, you really have to work as a courier. But do not think that Sam is a simple courier who was “elected” by chance. There are a number of plot reasons, in general terms, they were shown in the launch trailer: he has family ties with Bridget Strand, president of the United States of America and her daughter Amelia, who began to unite the country with a single network.

Plus, Sam is a “returnee,” able tocome back from the other world. And he has a number of special abilities, including the ability to feel the Beasts nearby. This will help him deliver goods around the vast gaming world and unite cities. The Bridge Baby (or just a BB in localization), with whom Sam almost never breaks up, will help him with this. At first glance, the “routine” task of transporting goods from one point to another is supported by a full-fledged, well-designed and really interesting, fascinating story. And all this is wrapped in a very atmospheric, recognizable world.

Storyline cutscenes are very goodin almost everything, as well as the plot itself. It is intriguing, dramatic and very often leaves more questions than answers. We will not disclose the plot details for obvious reasons. But the pace of the narrative of the game is extremely uneven: at the very beginning we see a bunch of cutscenes with a lot of information and even more game terminology, which at first leads to confusion and confusion. Then follows a rather impressive piece in terms of playing duration, where practically nothing happens and the player has to do practically the same thing over and over again: deliver the packages. Another controversial point: some metaphors and symbolism are excessively pushed forward. It seems that Kojima was afraid that he would not reach someone and decided to "chew" as much as possible, so that everyone could understand.

What is the gameplay, combat system and game world?

If you start with the main activity in the game- yes, we need to deliver a certain cargo from one point to another. But from the point of view of game mechanics, this is done in a very meticulous, diverse and interesting way. A huge number of factors complicate this seemingly simple task. For a start - the landscape: the game has mountains, plains, rocks, gorges, rivers and so on. They need to be considered when choosing a route, and in the process they cause a number of problems. Sam stumbles on stones, is carried away by the stream along the river, going down from the hill, you can not maintain balance. And there are a lot of such trifles: and the larger the load, the more difficult the task. The physics of walking in the game is implemented perfectly. Weight and inertia are very well felt, but stability is also very much affected by how evenly the load is distributed.

Before each delivery, the player will have toappropriate menu to correctly distribute everything you need. Moreover, in addition to the delivered cargo, additional things are necessary. Including ropes and folding ladders, which are necessary to overcome natural obstacles and various weapons / supplies that can be useful on the road. Each time you have to think carefully and take on the road only the most necessary. During the delivery process, you have to keep track of Sam’s balance, especially if he’s decently overloaded: one careless movement - and he will fall, and all the cargo falls apart and gets damaged. In some tasks, fragile loads must be delivered, so falling is extremely undesirable.

As you progress through the story, the game first teachesto all the main mechanics, after which it adds additional ones. Including new equipment for transportation like exoskeletons, levitating platforms and vehicles. And if everything is fine with exoskeletons, understandable and convenient, then the situation with transport is much worse. The game is very "clumsy" physics of transport and inconvenient control. As a result, movement on all kinds of tricycles and trucks turns into pain and burning. Without any tangible problems, you can only ride on the roads.

To the movement and delivery of goods is enougha game analogue of 3D printing is quickly added: a chiral printer, including its portable version of the PPK, which allows you to erect various designs, starting from charging stations, bridges and ending with bases in which Sam can relax.

There are three types of enemies in the game: Mules, terrorists and the above creatures. MULES - former couriers who drove a little “cuckoo” and became peculiar sectarians, the main object of worship of which is the cargo of couriers, which they strive to take away. They use stunning weapons and in general do not pose a particular danger, even to kick them into melee is not difficult. Terrorists are trying to counter Bridges, stop the spread of the network and the unification of the United Cities of America (UCA). They are more dangerous with a firearm, but also there are no special difficulties with them. As we play, more and more weapons are revealed to us, at least not lethal. Which is logical: killing in the game is not the best solution, according to the plot they explain why almost at the very beginning of the game.

And if during the movement appeared invertedrainbow, this means that temporal rain will begin now and nearby - those same creatures. Sam feels them and sees them thanks to the BB and the Odradek scanner on his shoulder, which begins to spin frantically and indicate the direction of the nearest Creature. These moments are made especially atmospheric and even frightening. At first, such locations should just be carefully passed. To do this, you need to sit down and watch Odradek, in a dangerous proximity to the Creature - hold your breath, the corresponding button is responsible for this. Later we get very effective types of weapons against creatures that allow you to effectively deal with them, including bosses. If the critters grabbed, then you can try to break out, otherwise we get on the other side and fight or run away from the boss. Unfortunately, the habitats of all enemies in the game are fixed and the effect of surprise will be only the first time.

Extremely interesting and unusually implemented like thiscalled asynchronous multiplayer. You can’t meet another player personally, but you can and should interact. Each user plays in his “own sandbox”, but the buildings, objects and vehicles are common. For example, you can jointly build a highway through a large piece of a map, which will greatly facilitate movement. All buildings turn out to be “common”, you can also help other players to deliver goods, share resources, and so on. For this, all players thank each other “likes”. We also receive them for deliveries and other activities. This is a kind of experience in the game. It works interesting and unusual. In general, the gameplay in the initial stages of the game may seem boring, but then it is very involved and the clock starts to fly very quietly.

What about the interface and pumping?

Perhaps the most confusing at first will seemimpact menu with terminals and cargo distribution. There really is a lot of everything and this is not done in the most obvious way. At first, you can get a little lost, but with time you get used to it. Map is another important menu item. Look at all the necessary points on it, plot the route, see the terrain (the map is three-dimensional and you can see it at an angle), the designations that other players left if the area is connected to the chiral network and some other useful things that become available over time. To connect a certain item to the network, you need to achieve a certain minimum level of trust. For this, one completed order is far from always enough. As the level increases, after connection we get very useful bonuses. This encourages you to take additional tasks.

Sam's lounge serves as a kind of hubwhere you can relax, take a shower, relieve natural needs (yes, these moments are of gameplay importance), see a map, pump equipment and replenish stamina with the help of Monster power engineers. Very frank product placement.

“Leveling” in the game occurs usingthe aforementioned likes. By completing tasks points are awarded, a number of criteria are taken into account, including the speed of delivery, route and condition of the cargo. With increasing levels, Sam's carrying capacity and stamina are pumped. Although during the battle this pumping does not give any bonuses.

How does all this look, sound and optimized?

The game was created usingenhanced engine Decima studio Guerrilla Games. Moreover, about 70 studio staff assisted Kojima Productions in the development process. The same engine was used and showed excellent performance in Horizon Zero Dawn with an open world, so the choice is justified. The visual component and optimization are beyond praise. The picture is magnificent, this also applies to incredibly picturesque views, of which the world of the game and characters are almost completely composed. At the same time, at launch, without patches, there were no performance problems even on the Sony PlayStation 4 Slim, on which the game was played. The open world of the game is huge, picturesque and diverse in terms of landscape and environment. But the understanding quickly comes that it is empty and rather lifeless: there are no random events, or songs, the nodes are mostly of the same type. There is a suspicion that this was done on purpose: Kojima repeatedly mentioned loneliness and the need to unite. And this atmosphere of loneliness and a dying world is felt very well.

There are many easter eggs in the game and they are very encouraging:

The soundtrack is used as a specialwritten music by composer Ludwig Forssell, as well as compositions by Low Roar, Chvrches, The Neighborhood, Major Lazer and Bring Me the Horizon. The soundtrack turned out to be extremely suitable and atmospheric, the prevailing ambient from time to time is replaced by more “lively” compositions. High-quality localization: text and voice acting, without any obvious flaws. Not all actors are selected optimally, but not critically.

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In the dry residue

Death Stranding - a very personal brainchild of HideoKojima. And it turned out to be original and specific. Kojima Studio did a tremendous job and managed to create a unique, elaborated to the smallest detail and incredibly distinctive world and a very interesting, intriguing story. It is all wrapped up in the incredible beauty of the scenery with the most suitable soundtrack and story cutscenes. They delight with excellent directing, staging and real actors that add liveliness. Separately, it is worth noting a very non-standard implementation of the multi-user component, which really works. But not everyone will like the game: the gameplay component turned out to be very unhurried, sometimes meditative. It takes a lot of time, offers fairly uniform tasks and only periodically throws in grains of plot. Fans of intense action will not be too happy about the combat system: this part of the game is relegated to the background and turned out to be not the most successful. But if you are ready for a leisurely and at times monotonous narrative, then Death Stranding will definitely reward you with an interesting story and a ton of emotions.

6 reasons to buy Death Stranding:

  • the original game world worked out to the smallest detail;
  • interesting storyline;
  • Great graphics and optimization;
  • original online component;
  • meticulously developed mechanics of moving and carrying goods;
  • Chic soundtrack.

3 reasons not to buy Death Stranding:

  • monotonous tasks;
  • empty open world;
  • very simple combat system and boss battles.

Death stranding

Action / Adventure game in the open worldpost-apocalyptic America, where humanity was on the verge of extinction. Players play the role of a courier, who will unite the remains of the surviving world, simultaneously delivering goods and fighting with otherworldly creatures.


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Death stranding

Adventure / action

Sony PlayStation 4, PC (in 2020)

Number of players

Kojima productions

Sony Interactive Entertainment

full (text and voice)

release date
November 8, 2019 (PS4), summer 2020 (PC)

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