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Making Sense of Death Stranding

by: Nicholas -
More On: Death Stranding

According to our review, Death Stranding was great. Typical of a Kojima game, it's packed with theme, product placement, and ridiculously detailed celebrity actors. 

But for all the gravitas, there is still a bit of confusion around the game. Some have decried it as a walking simulator, with nothing new to offer except that it's a new Hideo Kojima game. 

Still, one can't deny that it's got something going on about it. The low-key multiplayer aspects that allow players to assist each other echo the theme of trying to reunite America that is at the center of the game's plot.

Writing on Games tries to get to the center of what makes this game tick in his latest video.

Taking aim at gameplay, casting, and the story, he picks apart what makes the game effective and where Kojima's ambition falls flat. 

Starting with an anecdote about the game's demo at TGS, in which Kojima beeched players to climb down a mountain on foot when they crested the top. Hamish Black, the creator behind the channel, waxed about how, rather than flawlessly cresting the mountain, he was constantly interrupted by BTs (an enemy in the game) a bullet-sponge mini boss, and bumpy roads that caused him to lose all his cargo. Oh, and his motorbike shot off the side of the mountain and made the baby cry. 

Taking particular aim at the writing and celebrity actors, he decries what he sees as stunt casting, or Kojima casting people like Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen, and more to just show how many famous friends he has. As for the writing and how it may be faulty, just look to Nicolas Winding Refn's "Heartman" or Lea Seydoux's "Fragile" and the droning on they do about the former's heart and the latter's seeming fragility. It's so meandering that one wonders why it's even in the game. 

But then there's the philosophical aspect of the game:

Norman Reedus's character Sam is a courier. Tasked with delivering packages across America, his job is, by necessity, quite tough. Plagued by all sorts of baddies as well as roads and vehicles that are consistently unreliable, the player's experience is a feat of Sisyphus to overcome the ridiculousness of the game's world. But the more the player explores, and the more people populate the game, then the more the game is filled with little items that help each other out. Constructed bridges, leftover ladders and vehicles near mountain passes, there's all sorts of ways that players help each other out.  

This is the paradox at the heart of Death Stranding. Many large things that don't entirely come together, but little things that make effective use of the game's strengths. 

Kojima claims to have created a new genre with this game. Who knows if that will pan out. Maybe we'll see more of this from Kojima, but maybe we won't. Only time will tell.