32 sentences. 267 words. 2106 characters.
And that’s only 12 plus hours of gameplay in Hideo Kojima‘s Death Stranding.
I feel like the first things I want to say about this title are that:
It is immense.
It is not what you expect.
And that the question of “what do you think of when playing it?” can only be answered with:
“The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild”.
Absolutely bat-sh*t from the get-go in classic Kojima fashion, the title does some brief setup where YOUR birthday can affect your character’s connection (don’t worry, ‘connection’ will come up many times so you’ll never forget).
A strong cinematic loads showcasing Ludens, the Kojima Productions mascot, in absolute HD that then hands over to the Decima Engine doing THE MOST to give us Norman Reedus in all his glory as Sam Porter Bridges.
Léa Seydoux is also there as fellow Porter, Fragile. Yes, Kojima-san cannot be stopped with his naming conventions, and she’s just the start.
Low Roar’s ‘Don’t Be So Serious’ then streams into the game, another first in a series of nepotistic flexing from Kojima, where music acts as another connection and potential allusive tool to explain this stranded world.
Then you’re left to it.
I appreciate such deliberate action, placing discovery solely on the shoulders of players. I think that’s something that’s very beneficial to the game, because all I’ve felt during my time is discovery.
From the likes of the control system that weighs you down in physics, governing your encumbrance through use of your arms. Stamina that makes every breath count, and how you traverse locales more threatening. Blood that dictates life, because well…it’s blood.
All this on a minimalist screen so you can really take everything in.
That is until you go into the Terminal menu.
Funnily, I’m not offended by it. It’s very Kojima to overload the UI and have a billion different things to do to complete simple tasks, but boy…BOY. It’s hilarious to see that kind of padding return.
But overall it gives you all the info you need and more and OMG, THE COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES THEY USE. If you’re a fan of Kojima, you’ll absolutely love it.
So yes, that screen along with the wider world helps in your game’s role:
Fetch Quest: The Game.
You are on a mission to connect the world, and in doing so you connect with others. I suspect the overall connection mechanic is lacking because there’s only other reviewers in my world so far, but when it opens up…I think it’s going to be something to behold.
So many actions you make will leave a mark, and while this may sound Dark Souls-esque, I feel it will be more than that. Your world changes simply because others have been there. Your path changes, because others have been there. And there will be many, many paths.
While delivering packages may sound monotonous and laboured, interestingly enough the importance of said packages and gameplay behind it captivate in mesmerising ways. Cosmetic damage taking form should packages fall. The environment also having an effect on it, along with your own inventory being able to change it. This ties into your form of currency and resource management.
I won’t explain the currency that is also experience points, because just you wait, but resources will be managed location to location, and can be changed by extra deliveries you make and items you recycle.
Yes, the sheer amount of things to do won’t stop here.
Locations, or centers as they’re known, will become your way-points and home, where horny Reedus fans can regularly engage the character in what can only be called “Room Simulator Lite”.
Included with this is an excellent showcase in budgeting leverage through marketing, that is executed in mostly humorous ways (think…not-so-subtle).
From there you’ll stumble out into discovery again, which does involve more than being Postman Pat.
You’ll find human foes addicted to delivering (I swear this gets explained) who can be felled in many Kojima-like ways, and what you’ve probably seen in most trailers and footage for the game;
This is where the BB, or Bridge Baby, comes into play; You know, the adorable little babby in the weird birthing chamber. This also gets explained. While Sam might have his own secrets, BB is your bridge to the other side.
I’m not gonna explain what the other side is, but the game will tell you that.
Anyway, BT’s come from there. And the first encounter you have, and most likely the rest that follow, is often terrifying, confusing and overwhelming. Using a suite of tactics to melodically pull you into this death stranding, the fight or flight against them will threaten you with life or death.
And horrifyingly enough, this can lead to something even bigger happening to you.
Everything about Death Stranding is in its discovery.
I would love to say more, but I personally feel it takes away from the moments players will find themselves in the world. Death Stranding isn’t just about that event in-game, but the strands between players.
And I can tell you, the story Kojima-san delivers in only the way he can, will keep you and me connected to the title for a long time yet.
XENOJAY.COM was supplied with a media copy of the game for review by PlayStation NZ, and it was played on the Playstation 4 Pro console.