Death Stranding review and test

Ahhhh Death Stranding. The new Kojima Production game is finally out! We have been waiting for so long, with very curious images, trailers, and information that did not help to really understand what was the game about. So how is it in the end?

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What I have found interesting with the game is that after a couple of hours you will still be wondering: what the hell is that all about? And trying to explain the game in detail also feels like trying to explain a dream just after waking up. It does not seem to make sense, you are not sure how to explain it and it has definitely less impact than when it actually happened.

But the overall story is basically that the world, or mostly the USA (no idea about the rest of the world) is in ruins. The rain is acid, people live in shelters and, well … the world of the dead and the living are merging. Which means that ghosts (called BTs) are outside and trying to bring you in their world. That is where the baby in the bottle (or BB) is important as it helps you to know where those ghosts are, and to avoid them. Bringing very tense moments where you need to sneak around ghost without them seeing you.

But more precisely, your mission is to connect the USA from East to West to a network, which basically means going from city to city, showing that you are a good guy by delivering packages, and finally connect them to that very fancy internet.

It is all about balance

That may sound easy but it is more complicated than expected.  As mentioned previously, you will get ghosts on your way, but also looter/raiders and you will have to take care when and where you walk. The interesting concept of the game is about weight, packages, and balance. The more packages you have and worst will be your balance. You can control your balance by using the trigger but that also slows you down. And if you lost your balance, you will fell and damage your packages. On the other hand, you may actually want to take a lot of packages so you do not have to do a lot of back and forth between each city. Packages also include any guns, ladder, ropes, etc. that can help you in your journey. So you will also need to balance how much equipment you want to take with you.

Graphically I have to say that the game is amazing. As much on the character design than the world itself. Rivers, mountains, snow, beaches, all look incredibly realistic. That is really impressive to see what video games are able to achieve nowadays.

Connected

Another good bit of the game is that you can build some structures. Such as bridges, power stations, shelters or even roads. And an even better part of the game is that if you are connected to internet, then you will have access to the structures that other players are making or even help them making them. So you may be able to find a bridge, or even a ladder, a rope in some area, that was put by another player and which can be really helpfull. When a player is using a structure from another player, it got a “like”. “Likes” are then some equivalent of experience.

As much as I like the concept of sharing structures with other players without seeing them. I do not really like the concept of “likes”. What happened, in the end, is players are putting signs and messages in places where you can’t avoid them (in front of a door, an exit, etc) just to be sure that you touch it and give them a “like”. Thanks but no thanks.

The bad points

As much as I have enjoyed the game, I also do have a lot of critics about it. First of all, going from one city to another city for delivery is maybe fun the first 20 hours but not so much after that as it becomes very repetitive. And you can easily count 50 hours to beat the game. The story can help to keep it entertaining but that is also where a problem start to appear: a lot of the story has some serious plothole.  What I am saying is that the game or some dialogues are literally contradicting themselves. And I am really personnaly sensitive to that.

I will not really spoil but give some details about the game. Maybe you would ask yourself the question: why are you on foot and not having a car? Ironically you are even told at the beginning of the game that some people have crossed the country with cars! The answer is basically: you will get a car when the game is allowing you to have one. Which means that, you will walk in places with dozen of cars parked and fully functional, but no, you are not ready yet to get a car. Once you get a vehicle you may also understand why you did not get one sooner: the gameplay is not really good and a tiny rock can fully immobilize your vehicle. You will spend more time to hit the X button to jump over everything than really driving it.

Another question is where is everyone? Why are you the (only) one making roads, chasing bandits, delivery packaging, connecting people and even more? The map is actually very empty, and “cities” usually look more like shelters with only a couple of people.

Those are a couple of mostly spoiler-free and there are others that may spoil the story. In a funny way, all the time I am traveling on the map to deliver packages, I am asking questions about that world … and the more I am asking questions, the less that world makes sense at all, which pulls me out of the game.

Overall experience

A strong conclusion is very hard to give. I did enjoy a lot the first 20h but then found it repetitive and the story did not help to get back the hype. The story just motivated me to finish the game and know the end. Like when you start a good movie and get in a very long part but you keep watching because you want to know how it ends. That is a bit sad because that is definitely not good as an experience and it could have been easily fixed. The story should be more error-proof and maybe a bit faster. It is fine after that to enjoy a bit more the world and help other players. Or maybe it was done in purpose and some part were supposed to be annoying, but I doubt that.

I also have to say again that it is graphically incredible and the addition of the music at some specific moment is really nice. The concept of being connected with other players and sharing structure is also nice, and the overall story (if you do not think too much about it) is good. The work of the actors and character design is amazing.  So overall it has more good than bad points .. but damn, it could have easily been better!

 

Score: 8/10 Positive points:
– New concept and interesting ideas
– Graphically impressive
– Interesting overall story
Negative points:
– Repetitive after the first 20 hours (of 50)
– Plot holes in the story

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