Developed by:Kojima Productions Published by:Sony Genre(s):
  • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1 Release date:November 8, 2019 Reviewed on:PS4

    Death Stranding

    In Death Stranding’s surreal future, the USA is no more; it’s the UCA – United Cities of America. Creator Hideo Kojima (his name plastered over marketing and the opening credit’s boldest), isn’t subtle with his views. His Metal Gear Solid series satirized western military posturing, war’s lack of humanity, and baseless conflict. Death Stranding isn’t far off. In a decimated America (post-Metal Gear Solid?), the storyline wants nothing more than to repair, maintain, and keep the country viable. Oh, and there’s a women in-line for the Presidency.

    It’s such a Trump thing.

    Connection and/or connecting is everything to Death Stranding. That’s obvious. Few lines in the story dialog pass without mention of needing to connect. This connects to that, we connect to things, and protagonist delivery man Sam Porter Bridges connects to an infant in a jar. That’s bizarre, but so is the idea of Death Stranding chastising the lack of connection in this social media era, then asking people to invest 40 odd hours wandering this world. Alone. Isolated. Solitary.

    In that, Death Stranding mocks modern gaming’s open fetish. It’s played to extremes, played by hauling items between outlying outposts, with mere fragments of life interspersed. That’s Death Stranding; trailers and marketing were not obtuse, rather they avoided elongated stretches of nothingness.

    A derivative fetch quest feeds into another, shellacking the idea that Death Stranding is doing anything brave via its design – short of boring people through redundancy. Seeing the world swallowing city centers through decay and rebuilding by say, grass growing on a buried car’s rooftop, is an image holding potency. Enduring countless meandering hours through those visuals, that symbology wanes. The point is made. The route is tiresome. Repetition swallows the subtext like grass swallows those cars.

    There is no rainfall in Death Stranding – gravity pulls “timefall” from the clouds. Each droplet ages what it touches, expediting death through something normally associated with life. If Death Stranding succeeds anywhere, it’s here where life is indeed stranded by death, the fear of mortality, and how time erodes ourselves. The title does carry meaning, delivered via Kojima’s surrealism.

    Earth is inhabited by BTs, loosely shaped death figments, seeking to drag Sam to the afterlife. It is, again, intriguing. Sam suffers a phobia of touch – he won’t shake hands – and that stems from a fear that the hellish BTs will kill him when they make contact. And also, a further extension of Death Stranding’s connection theme, as if there weren’t enough.

    Death Stranding respects those menial jobs that keep society intact. Postal workers, garbage men, sewer workers; Sam is all of them. His struggles bring communication abilities to small outposts. The rest live in cordoned off stations until his arrival. Sam represents those jobs we take for granted. That’s a different kind of hero, even as he punches his way through attackers.

    That sense of character whittles though, trapped in a story determined to evoke symbolism via world construction. Sam is treated as if he’s new to this world, from his job’s basics to the catastrophe that befell Earth. Technology, equipment, the need to shower – all of this is treated as alien procedure, explained in exhaustive detail. People in Death Stranding must assume those working low-end jobs are idiots. Or, it’s just Kojima’s way.

    There’s no guessing to Death Stranding, only interpretation of textbook-like expository material. That goes for a lot of Death Stranding, bloated and obtuse within the sphere of intellectualism, but so open to analysis, at best, the delivery is only vaguely formed ideas. You figure it out – in the end, Kojima doesn’t show he understands these concepts either. It’s as if he toys with his audience more than appreciates them.



    Death Stranding is a lot of contemplative walking while trying to make a point. It's overall, too convoluted. 



    Some stellar material and design to make this world breathe. For those so equipped, it’s a gorgeous HDR pass too. 



    Strong outdoor ambiance adds to the mood, while random soundtrack cues bring a specific grandiosity. 

    Replay Value:


    Long as Death Stranding is and conclusive as the story is, there’s no reason to revisit other than to draw new conclusions about Kojima’s work.

    Final Score:


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