This is not a Video-Game – Spoiler Free Death Stranding Review

This is not a video-game, this is Death Standing.

“Sam Bridges must brave a world utterly transformed by the Death Stranding. Carrying the disconnected remnants of our future in his hands, he embarks on a journey to reconnect the shattered world one step at a time. From legendary game creator Hideo Kojima comes an all-new, genre-defying experience for the PlayStation®4.” – Official Playstation Website

*sigh*…so my thoughts…

This is not a video-game.

Death Stranding is an action game developed by Kojima Productions and their director Hideo Kojima. It is the first game from Kojima since his public formal firing from Konami in 2015. The game is set in the United States during the aftermath of a cataclysmic event, which caused destructive creatures from a realm between life and death to begin roaming the Earth. The story follows Sam Bridges (played by Norman Reedus), a courier tasked with delivering supplies to the fractured and isolated colonies that remain and reconnecting them via a wireless communications network.

Sam moves through the landscape via a Motorbike.

This is, of course, a massive oversimplification. The game is nothing short of a constant blast of allegorical tales, metaphors for real world events and the constant nudge of a director who really wants to shout, “Do you get it?”.  When I say that this is not a video-game I mean it, this should have been a 12 part HBO drama with a tie in novel series, the opening hours of game-play are so densely packed with world-building and backstory that we have a real issue with time management with the game having to squeeze in “how to actually play the video-game” into just a few brief moments.

A close up Sam (Norman Redus) shows the visual quality of the game.

Kojima’s Death Stranding also suffers from something that most Dungeons & Dragons Game Masters experience at one point or another and that’s a world more interesting than the characters placed in it. Characters become involved with the games main narrative simply because the game calls for them to do so, with some simply never having their motives or reasons explained other than “It would be pretty cool huh?” being their core motivation.

So, Death Stranding is in the wrong format, has difficulty telling its story, leaves you wanting more from its characters and isn’t really a video-game…

…and it is brilliant.

This is a truly important piece of media, regardless if you are a fan of Kojima’s previous Metal Gear efforts or not. This stand alone and stand out piece of gaming excellence is a wonder to be a part of. The games allegorical tales are poignant and heart-warming. The metaphors are relevant and interesting, and having Kojima’s presence felt in every part of the game is a comfort. This wouldn’t work as a 12 part mini series on HBO because you wouldn’t get the same feelings of isolation and connection equally, You wouldn’t to get to chose what brilliant piece of music is played from a truly exceptional soundtrack  as you traverse difficult game-play pieces that aren’t solved with the simplicity of other titles. The game doesn’t need to hand hold you and teach you how to play the video-game because the controls are fluid and responsive and the game-play rewarding of experimentation.

Amelie played by Lindsay Wagner (Model) and Emily O'Brien (Voice)

Death Stranding is definitely not for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to all. It does require you to sit down and shut up for a lot of it, needing concentration and care for some of the trickier sections. This isn’t something you pop on for a quick 45 minutes while your dinner cooks, It’s a real time hole, but you’ll be rewarded by giving it your attention.

Martin Chesse

Death Stranding is and to be released at a currently unspecified date for PC in 2020.