Death Stranding reviews are everywhere across the web, but I decided to try it completely blind just to savor it with no filters.
So, I blacked out on November 8th and two days later I’ve finally risen from a gaming coma the likes I’ve never experienced before. I imagine a lot of you reading this have already read a plethora of other reviews about Death Stranding and have only come here to see if I have anything to say that isn’t the same as everyone else. I honestly haven’t read any reviews myself, so I don’t know what everyone is saying, but for me, Death Stranding is probably one of the most unique sandbox experiences ever put on screen.
OF A SURF-TORMENTED SHORE
It isn’t for everyone, but even if it isn’t for you, buy this game. It challenges everything about what a game should be and we need more of it. I have never in my life played a game that feels like this. There are a lot of moments in the 10 hrs + of gameplay that should have made me want to throw a controller into the abyss only to just slowly nod to myself and say “let’s try this again, we can do this Sam.”
There is this strange sort of spell that gets cast over certain situations that would normally induce rage that calmly lulls you into a serene sense of resignation as Sam mutters to himself that he tumbled down a twenty meter cliff; all his packages flying off and BB crying from his chest. I can’t say for certain, but I think if I were to name this, it’s the same feeling people get when they throw themselves at a Dark Souls boss for two hours straight and when they finally beat it a sudden rush of relief rolls over them. Only Death Stranding does it constantly. It’s an incredible feeling to scale up the side of a cliff then back down again in a sudden rush of excitement and reckless abandon. Any sense of precise caution thrown to the wind as you roll down the path like a five year old child.
There are moments when you seriously can mess up and yet, at the end of the disaster, you simply continue, loading yourself up with more packages and start hoofing it toward a new direction hoping it will yield better results this time around.
You’re probably wondering at this point if the game is too hard. Well, at the moment I have only died once and I’m playing on normal difficulty. I am a pretty cautious player so I think the game favors the slow and careful. The game is about getting from point A to B and avoiding all manner of things in the middle. If you take the time to take in the scenery and stride carefully in the bad-touch areas; you find yourself zoning out into a state similar to one that happens on a road trip. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in the wrong direction (my fault entirely not the game’s) only to find something to stare at and not feel so bad about it. The game is beautiful and incredibly well lived in. Every single surface feels real and well crafted. Kojima and his team have done a wonderful job grounding Death Stranding in a way that makes it feel real but just as ridiculous as you expect it to be.
IT'S BUT A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
As for more technical sides of the game. I haven’t had any noticeable bugs but I also get really lucky with those sorts of things. Regardless, the game feels really well polished considering all the balance mechanics going on. A lot of people might find Death Stranding’s controls frustrating, but again, if you slow down and take your time learning how it works, it feels pretty natural after about half an hour. It’s different, but a good different.
I’m sure other Death Stranding reviews have covered how beautiful this game is, but if wasn’t clear enough before, I’ll say it again. Death Stranding might be one of the prettiest games ever put to console. Every time a new location is revealed and the music starts to pick up I feel an overwhelming sense of childlike wonder. Death Stranding is like every single world you’ve ever gotten lost in as a kid. Where everything is new and you want to see it all.
I want to stress that I do love a lot of the games Kojima has made over his tenure, but good god, Death Stranding is something special. It isn’t just about Kojima in the least. It is a game that was made by a bunch of people who wanted to make an experience and that is exactly what it is. It wasn’t built to please everyone, it was made because someone wanted to share something they thought was special.
THROUGH MY FINGERS TO THE DEEP
If you still aren’t sure if you should buy Death Stranding. Let me say this. Buy it simply to encourage more games like it. We need more games that are AAA in visuals but unusual and indie everywhere else. I am so tired of the same old shoot-shoot-bang. I need more games like Death Stranding. I need more moments where I do something in a game and I feel like I contributed to something bigger. I have never been so enamored by a sandbox before. I think I finally understand why other people like Skyrim so much. That sense of discovery and wonder of what a sandbox can be has finally happened to me. I can say without a doubt if I keep having these moments right up till the end of the game. It will finally topple Bloodborne as my favorite modern game. It is absolutely worth experiencing even if you can’t see yourself playing it all the way through. It is something to be copied and learned from. I know everyone won’t have the same experience as me and that's okay, but I sure hope they do. Everyone deserves a chance to experience the wanderlust of Death Stranding.
Also, yes, I would die for my pod baby.