Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

Even before the release, Death Stranding was dubbed a game not for everyone, a work of art that fans of Call of Duty and other “chewing gum” will never understand in their lives. After seeing fragments of the plot, many in absentia called the story a masterpiece, and in the shown gameplay they saw something unique that no one had done before and is unlikely to ever do. Therefore, they say, if you came here for the usual gameplay, it is not in Death Stranding. But in fact, the courage of Sony and Hideo Kojima (Hideo Kojima) does not seem like such an achievement.

Transfer difficulties

As everyone probably already knows, Death Stranding is a courier simulator. In the role of Sam, we are rebuilding a network between different nodes in order to connect all the inhabitants of the United Cities of America with each other. We take an order, we attach containers with all sorts of rubbish to our backs and go to the next point. In total, the game has more than fifty story missions, and most of them are somehow connected with the delivery of objects from one area to another. Yes, and in secondary tasks they offer to do the same.

The problem is that all these deliveries are ridiculously easy, and you don’t even have to use additional features. They only speed up the process or facilitate it, but do not bring the necessary variety. It’s great to be able to shove all the goodies into a truck or neatly fold it onto an air transporter that will follow Sam, but the end result is that the player is doing the same thing, just relying on the unlocked tech instead of putting everything on their back.

Death Stranding seemed to be afraid to make a real arthouse from the world of video games, in fact, to offer a game not for everyone. It is designed for a wide audience, so it must remain a blockbuster for the masses – understandable, simple and accessible. Especially for this, an easy difficulty level was added, which seems to be suitable for those who want to follow the plot and not suffer because of the gameplay, but even on high difficulty the game does not offer any challenges. The delivery process does not change – only the damage received in battles changes, and all fights (with the exception of the story ones) are very easy to avoid.

No surprises

You still accept the order and press the sort button to have the game distribute all the cargo for you. Just open the map and look for which way to go next. Just run and from time to time press L2 or R2 if Sam starts to fall over. Or hold down both buttons and keep walking straight. The hero has a device that scans the terrain and shows with blue squares and red crosses where he can or cannot climb, but over time you stop using it – even in the snowy mountains, you understand where you can go.Opinion: why Death Stranding does not drag

With a conveyor, you will have to fall and stumble much less often.

You can put ladders and use cables, but not really necessary. You will even be able to climb a mountain if you don’t shove ahead, but periodically step aside and monitor your endurance. It’s the same with deep rivers – if there is no way to build a bridge, take a minute and try to find a place where there are a couple of stones between two banks that you can jump over. And if there’s a crack in the ground, somehow it just so happens that there are ski jumps on both sides of it, perfect for jumping on a motorcycle.

Not once does a game offer a hopeless, unnerving and annoying situation like some Spintires: MudRunner. Very rarely there are tasks here where the container must be held horizontally, carried in hands or in no case immersed in water, but even in these tasks the player seems to be afraid of being punished – all of a sudden he will abandon everything and return the disc with the game to the store. For example, if the load is forbidden to be shaken, in fact it will not be much damaged by shaking – it just blinks red with an unpleasant sound, and everything will stop when Sam stops. And when in one of the missions you are asked to deliver a container in 40 minutes, even without using stairs, you will reach your destination in 6.

Lots of nothing

Therefore, the gameplay in Death Stranding at some point begins not only to tire, but to disappoint with how trivial the tasks become. If you see another order, it is very easy to imagine what this delivery will be like. New gadgets in the inventory make the gameplay even more pointless, so you don’t even want to use them – it’s more interesting to fall on your side because of a mountain of cargo on your back than to throw everything on the transporter and enjoy life. Indeed, in the first case, you will encounter at least some difficulties, you may even fall off the mountain and scatter containers that will roll through the snow to the foot.

Some mechanics turn out to be unnecessary, or you don’t notice them at all. Sam’s shoes wear out and sandal leaves can be used in an emergency, but creating new boots at any base costs mere pennies, so you carry them with you and quickly change shoes with a couple of buttons if necessary. There is also a strong wind here, which increases stamina consumption and reduces speed when it blows in the face. I found out about this only thanks to the fact that I took a screenshot, when the training text about this got out on the screen. In the game itself, I never noticed this, and you probably didn’t either.

Opinion: why Death Stranding does not drag

The snow-capped mountains look intimidating, but climbing them is not that difficult.

They wanted to make deliveries a key mechanic so much that everything else here turned out to be even simpler and more monotonous. Each skirmish with the Creatures is turned into an event: a thunderstorm is heard, everything around slows down, the device on the shoulder reacts and starts looking for monsters. And the player at this moment presses the “circle” to sit down, and begins to move slowly, from time to time holding R1 to hold his breath. That’s the whole gameplay in these episodes – if you do everything right and do not climb on the rampage, after a couple of minutes you will leave the dangerous territory and run further at the same pace.

It is even easier with people – they are so weak that they lose consciousness after a maximum of three blows. And they run so slowly that they are simply not able to catch up with the hero. Even the people armed with cannons that meet at the end of the game do not pose any threat and hardly fall into Sam, who is rushing at full speed. But for some reason, the developers also make these episodes with Creatures and people even more elementary: you can kill the first in stealth by pressing the “square”, and the second will be protected by an armored plate, the drawing of which is given out at about the same time when it becomes needed.

And could…

Ultimately, Death Stranding is truly unique to the industry, if only because it is a third-person action game where there is no action as such. You can get into fights with anyone, spit on stealth and fight Creatures, throwing them with grenades from your own secretions, but according to the plot, they are forced to do this very, very rarely – mainly in battles with bosses. By the way, they also do not require anything special from the player, and it is almost impossible to die in them. But it’s hard to discuss them without spoilers, and I don’t want to spoil the impression with descriptions.

Although the gameplay is truly unique and it’s unusual to see this kind of game from a major publisher, in fact, Death Stranding is not that far removed from other big-budget blockbusters. It doesn’t try to make the player a helpless courier battling the terrain in a shattered America. She does not want to severely punish him for his mistakes – the maximum will give a weak crack, depriving him of his cargo in case of death. But you can’t even really die here – Sam is reborn near the place of death. And if the plot loads are lost, then the mission simply ends with a “game over” and you are offered to load the last save.

Opinion: why Death Stranding does not drag

The black goo that appears when the Creatures “alarm” has limits – go beyond them and the monsters will not be able to do anything.

In one of the last tasks, a story character asked me to drag an extremely valuable cargo to a distant node. He says that the thing is very fragile, you can’t lower the containers into the water and generally damage it. As a result, along the way, I fell from the mountain, and passed through the rivers, and fought with several Creatures, and then I came to the right place, and no one even paid attention to the fact that the containers were not in the best condition. Unless the shipping score is high, but who cares?

***

Death Stranding tries to be something different from other blockbusters, but “punishes” just like they do. An event would be to create a difficult courier simulator that gets into unique or almost hopeless situations, otherwise the game is like a collection of non-inventive RPG “Give-Fetch” quests that you complete only if all the normal tasks have already ended. On the other hand, is it in vain that Kojima invited so many actors and musical groups? Such a game should be available to everyone, even people far from the industry. But it is a pity that the opportunity to take a risk fell to the team, which did not fully use it.

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