Death Stranding is an action game developed by Hideo Kojima through his studio Kojima Productions. It was originally released for the PlayStation 4 in 2019 and for Windows in 2021. The game’s targeted towards a mature audience, as it includes graphic depictions of death, horror elements and mature themes such as survival, isolation and despair in a post-apocalyptic universe. Furthermore, the game despite possessing some combat elements, is heavily centered around walking and exploration, as the character “Sam” attempts to connect small enclaves of humanity and cities scattered across the United States that have been shut off from each other after an apocalyptic event which gave rise to time anomalies.
The main objective throughout the game is to complete deliveries of important supplies, data and messages while traversing a beautiful yet deadly open world environment. The player encounters enemies ranging from humans to BT’s, which are basically invisible ghosts that roam the Earth and will consume humans upon contact. There are also more environmental risks such as time-accelerating rain that serve as both a gameplay event, as the player must seek refuge from it, and a narrative device for the story. All the while, players must manage the weight they carry, as the number of packages they encounter, and load affect their movement and stamina, as well as their health. Rocky or steep terrains will make short work of a player who’s loading too much inventory as they will trip and damage their equipment and lose health, similarly rivers can carry the player away if they are not able to complete the twitch skill challenges presented to them.
While I played the game for about an hour, I was able to identify a main linear story as well as smaller side-quests centered around finding and delivering equipment which didn’t seem to affect the main plot. The most captivating parts of the game were the beautiful yet suspenseful cutscenes as well as the sensation of mystery and awe as I reached over a hill and a sentimental soundtrack accompanied the discovery of the plains beneath. Thus, I would say the game is centered around storytelling and exploration. To improve the game from my short playthrough, I would try to lengthen the playable areas or times of gameplay between cutscenes instead of dumping the player with 40 minutes’ worth of cutscenes and exposition within the first hour. I would also add some more diversity to the first level terrain in terms of geography, not necessarily ecosystem or color palette, as it would provide the player the feeling of being a more seasoned currier by the time they reach their first enclave.