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 oldest 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 gaming series Metal Gear Solid. After breaking ties with Konami in 2019, Kojima “reassembled” its Kojima Productions as an independent studio and announced a collaboration 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 it would be a temporary PS4 exclusive. Now, Hideo Kojima's fame has expanded far beyond the gaming industry. Everyone and everyone was talking and joking about him and his new game Death Stranding. Thanks to unusual announcements, a number of first trailers in which little could be understood, and famous actors, a peculiar aura of mystery formed around the game. This added to the excitement around Death Stranding, but also, to some extent, played a cruel joke. Closer to release, Kojima began showing the public gameplay videos that showed all the main game mechanics. The game designer was completely honest with the public. But the public had already thought of hidden meanings and were waiting for tricks. As a result, the game received rather mixed reviews upon release. It seems mainly due to too high expectations. In any case, the editorsggI couldn’t pass up such a sensational project. We decided to try out the game and form our own impression.

United Cities of America


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

After a mystical global catastrophe, whichcalled “Death Stranding”, the world to which we are accustomed ceased to exist. The line between the world of the living and the dead has blurred. Humanity is facing complete extinction. All over the world, “Creatures” are crawling from the other world into the living world, dragging the living with them. Their appearance is accompanied by the so-called temporal rain, which speeds up the passage of time. Everything that comes under it ages very quickly. 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 has been reduced to ruinsseveral so-called “nodal” cities that formed a new “state” United Cities of America (UCA), but after certain events became fragmented and almost completely connected with each other. The survivors are extremely reluctant to leave their shelters. Of course, in such a situation, the only connection between the surviving “cities” (which are underground bunkers) are couriers. One of these couriers is the main character, Sam Porter Bridges, a former employee of the Bridges company. He is portrayed by Norman Reedus.


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Sam has to unite everything togetherthe surviving humanity, of course, for the sake of a higher goal - survival. Sam will unite all surviving settlements using a chiral network (a kind of variation on the Internet theme), simultaneously delivering various cargo throughout the virtual world of Death Stranding. Yes, you really have to work as a courier. But don’t think that Sam is a simple courier who was &#8220;chosen&#8221; accidentally. There are a number of plot reasons for this, which were outlined in the launch trailer: he has family ties to Bridget Strand, the president of the United Cities of America and her daughter Amelia, who began to unite the country into a single network.


 


 


 


 

 

Plus, Sam is a &#8220;returnee&#8221;,was able to return back from the other world. And he has a number of special abilities, including the ability to sense Beasts nearby. This will help him deliver goods throughout the vast game world and unite cities. He will also be helped in this by the baby Bridge Baby (or simply BB in localization), with whom Sam almost never leaves. &#8220;Routine&#8221; At first glance, the task of transporting goods from one point to another is supported by a full-fledged, well-developed and truly interesting, captivating plot. And all this is wrapped in a very atmospheric, recognizable world.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

The story cutscenes are very goodin almost everything, like the plot itself. It is intriguing, dramatic and very often leaves more questions than answers. We will not disclose plot details for obvious reasons. But the pace of the game’s narrative 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 creates chaos and confusion. This is followed by a rather impressive piece of game duration, where practically nothing happens and the player simply has to do almost the same thing over and over again: deliver packages. Another controversial point: some metaphors and symbolism are too prominent. It seems that Kojima was afraid that it would not reach someone and decided to “chew” it as much as possible so that it would be clear to everyone.

What is the gameplay, combat system and game world?

If you start with the main activity ingame - then yes, we need to deliver a certain cargo from one point to another. But from the point of view of game mechanics, it was done very meticulously, varied and interesting. This seemingly simple task is complicated by a huge number of factors. For starters, the landscape: the game has mountains, plains, rocks, gorges, rivers, and so on. They need to be taken into account when choosing a route, and in the process they cause a number of problems. Sam stumbles over rocks and is carried away by the current of the river; going down the hill, he may not be able to keep his balance. And there are a lot of such little things: 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, and stability is greatly influenced by how evenly the load is distributed.


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

Before each delivery, the player mustcorrectly distribute everything you need according to the menu. At the same time, in addition to the delivered cargo, additional things are needed. Including ropes and folding ladders needed to overcome natural obstacles and various weapons/supplies that may come in handy along the way. Every time you have to think carefully and take only the essentials on the road. During the delivery process, you will have to monitor Sam's balance, especially if he is significantly overloaded: one careless movement and he will fall, and the entire cargo will scatter around and get damaged. Some missions involve delivering fragile cargo, so falling is highly undesirable.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

As you progress through the story, the game first teachesall the main mechanics, and then adds additional ones. This includes new transportation equipment such as exoskeletons, levitating platforms and vehicles. And if everything is fine, clear and convenient with exoskeletons, then with transport the situation is much worse. The game is very &#8220;clumsy&#8221; physics of transport and inconvenient controls. As a result, traveling on all kinds of tricycles and trucks turns into pain and burning. You can only drive on roads without any noticeable problems.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

Enough for the movement and delivery of goodsa game analogue of 3D printing is quickly added: a chiral printer, including its portable version PPK, which allows you to build various structures, from charging stations, bridges and ending with bases in which Sam can rest.


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

There are three types of enemies in the game:MULES, terrorists and the aforementioned creatures. MULES are former couriers who went a little crazy. and became a kind of sectarians, whose main object of worship is the couriers’ cargo, which they strive to take away. They use stun weapons and generally do not pose much of a threat; even kicking them in hand-to-hand combat is not difficult. Terrorists are trying to counter the Bridges company, stop the spread of the network and the unification of the United Cities of America (UCA). They are more dangerous with a firearm, but there are no special difficulties with them either. As the game progresses, more and more types of weapons are revealed to us, most of them non-lethal. Which is logical: killing in the game is not the best solution; according to the plot, we are explained why almost at the very beginning of the game.


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

What if an upside-down car appears while driving?rainbow, this means that temporal rain will now begin and those same creatures are nearby. Sam feels and sees them thanks to the BB and the Odradek scanner on his shoulder, which begins to spin furiously and indicate the direction of the nearest Creature. These moments are made especially atmospheric and even frightening. At first, you should just go through such locations carefully. To do this, you need to sit down and watch Odradek, in 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 us to effectively fight them, including bosses. If the Creatures are grabbed, then you can try to escape, otherwise we end up 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 only be the first time.


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

Extremely interesting and unusually implemented like thiscalled &#8220;asynchronous multiplayer&#8221;. You cannot meet another player in person, but you can and should interact. Each user plays in their own sandbox, but buildings, items and vehicles are common. For example, you can work together to build a highway through a large piece of the map, which will greatly facilitate movement. All buildings are “shared”; you can also help other players deliver cargo, share resources, and so on. For all this, the players thank each other with “likes.” We also receive them for completed deliveries and other activities. This is a kind of experience in the game. It works in an interesting and unusual way. In general, the gameplay in the initial stages of the game may seem boring, but later it is very involving and the hours begin to fly by completely unnoticed.

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 hub of sorts,where you can relax, take a shower, relieve yourself of natural needs (yes, these moments are of gameplay importance), look at the map, upgrade your equipment and replenish your stamina with the help of Monster energy drinks. Very blatant product placement.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

&#8220;Pumping&#8221; in the game happens withusing the above-mentioned likes. Points are awarded for completing tasks and a number of criteria are taken into account, including delivery speed, route and cargo condition. As the level increases, Sam's carrying capacity and endurance are pumped up. Although during the battle this pumping does not provide any bonuses.

How does all this look, sound and optimized?

The game was created usingadvanced Decima engine from Guerrilla Games. Moreover, approximately 70 studio employees assisted Kojima Productions during the development process. The same engine was used and performed well in the open-world Horizon Zero Dawn, so the choice is quite justified. The visual component and optimization are beyond praise. The picture is magnificent, this also applies to the incredibly picturesque views that almost entirely make up the game world, and the characters. At the same time, at launch, without patches, there were no problems with performance 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 characters, 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:

Used specifically in the soundtrackwritten 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 gives way to more &#8220;live&#8221; compositions. The localization is of high quality: text and voice acting, without any obvious flaws. Not all actors are chosen optimally, but this is not critical.

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In the dry residue

Death Stranding is a very personal brainchild of HideoKojima. And it turned out to be original and specific. Kojima's studio has done a tremendous job and managed to create a unique, meticulously detailed and incredibly original world and a very interesting, intriguing story. This is all wrapped up in incredibly beautiful scenery with the most appropriate soundtrack and story cutscenes. They delight with excellent direction, staging and real actors who add liveliness. Separately, it is worth noting the 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 leisurely, at times meditative. It takes a lot of time, offers fairly monotonous tasks, and only periodically throws in bits 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 did not turn out to be 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 lot 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.

KTC

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MOYO

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We recommend

Death stranding

Genre
Adventure/Action

Platform
Sony PlayStation 4, PC (coming 2020)

Number of players
1

Developer
Kojima Productions

Publisher
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Localization
full (text and voice)

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

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