Death Stranding: A Controversial New Title

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Death Stranding, the most recent title from legendary video game creator Hideo Kojima, released on Nov. 8 last week. Kojima has been creating games since the 1980s and is infamous for creating the Metal Gear Solid games, a series that has revolutionized the stealth genre and stars the famous video game character, Solid Snake. 

Kojima’s most recent work follows a character known as Sam Porter Bridges (played by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus) as he travels across a desolate America. In the game, the United Cities of America (inspired by the USA) became crippled and disconnected after an apocalyptic event occurred known as the Death Stranding, a mysterious incident in which the worlds of the dead and the living merged as one. The player plays as Sam and works to reconnect America from coast to coast while delivering packages to isolated citizens along the way.

Death Stranding has thus far elicited a fairly positive response from the gaming community as a whole; numerous reviews provide opinions that acclaim Hideo Kojima’s newest work as “a breath of fresh air” for the gaming industry. Some critics have condemned the game as a more boring, less entertaining title; it is important to realize, however, that a game’s value is up for the individual to interpret. Death Stranding is a game so abstract and imaginative that assigning it any score rating would poorly represent its actual worth.

The game is intended to be a single player campaign, however, it features an interesting mechanic that still involves a form of interaction with other players. The game records things that other players do, such as building certain objects or structures, and incorporates those same structures in your own game. For example, if one player decides to place down a sort of construct, then another player will be able to see and use that same construct in their own game, given that the game’s servers have had a chance to process the exchange.

Despite the ability to loosely interact with other players, Death Stranding is a lonely and slow game. Death Stranding is more story-oriented, and many of the characters live isolated and away from other NPCs (non playable characters). Unlike most games, combat has less of a presence in Death Stranding; players will mostly spend their time delivering packages to NPCs in an effort to reconnect American society. Also, several individuals and gaming outlets claim that the first 10 hours of its 40-60 hour total are very slow, which can easily turn off its players. Many gamers love this new style of gameplay, but others, especially certain American gamers, find it boring and unenjoyable.

A rough translation from IGN of a statement from Kojima reads, “I must say that the game has received some enthusiastic reviews, above all in Europe and Japan. Here in the US, instead, we’ve had stronger criticisms. Perhaps it’s a game that’s difficult to understand for a certain type of critic and some of the public. Americans are some of the biggest first-person shooter fans, and Death Stranding isn’t that.

Even though the gameplay may be considered weak by some, the story has been praised by the majority of gamers. Kojima is known for strong stories and thematic elements in his games, and Death Stranding is no stranger to these characteristics. The game contains a star studded cast that includes Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelson, Léa Seydoux and Troy Baker among others. Death Stranding’s cutscenes are also long and feel more like a cinematic experience than a gaming one. Kojima has stated that he hopes to direct films some day, and Death Stranding certainly feels like one.

Overall, Death Stranding is a unique video game that may not appeal to all gamers. With many praising its story but claiming its gameplay is weak and/or strange, it certainly divides its audience. It is most likely safe to say Death Stranding appeals to gamers who appreciate story-heavy games and do not mind a slow and unique style of gameplay; however, it fails to attract those who value fast-paced and action-heavy titles.