For years it was completely unclear what Death Stranding should be. The debut trailer showed a naked Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) coupled with a fetus, while they were lying together on a beach full of dead whales.
Fortunately, the game is now over and we have a more concrete idea of what exactly this should be and what kind of messages the game is trying to convey.
Death Stranding is about a devastated America.
The game is set in the near future, just after the United States has been torn apart by ghost attacks. Invisible spirits cause huge implosions that wipe out cities by dragging people to the hereafter.
At the same time, a strange kind of rain falls out of the sky, aging everything it touches super-fast. As a result, the disrupted America has been turned back into a wild natural landscape, with the exception of a few cities and outposts that are still being maintained.
That sounds confusing.
And it is, but that is the intention. Death Stranding creates a fairly unique world in which inexplicable things have happened. But as you progress, some of those mysteries are explained and you get a better idea of what happened.
In addition, the game is infused with the unique style of designer Hideo Kojima, so Death Stranding always feels a bit crazy. For example, while playing you carry the fetus of a brain-dead mother with you. It is on the edge between life and death, so you can see ghosts. You sometimes have to comfort that fetus by rocking your controller.
How do you play the game?
In Death Stranding you are a mail delivery person who has to bring America back into contact with itself. You pick up packages in cities and camps, which you then bind on your back and take you to the right destination. At the same time you connect every visited location with the 'Chiral Network', a kind of futuristic internet with which you can 3D objects from anywhere in the world.
Death Stranding goes quite far with his mail delivery idea. You physically carry every package on your character, so you have to think about how to keep the best balance. Later you can make useful upgrades, such as an exoskeleton that ensures that you can carry more. There are also vehicles, but they are not always handy in the wilderness.
There are also moments of action in the game: you take on weapons against the invisible ghosts and you sneak through camps of crazy couriers. But the main part of Death Stranding always remains a PostNL simulator.
The game is full of famous directors and actors
Yes, there are quite a few. The lead role is played by Norman Reedus, who besides The Walking Dead also played a role in The Boondock Saints. The Dane Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) plays a mysterious role, while the French actice Léa Seydoux plays the female counterpart of Reedus.
Famous director Guillermo del Toro also plays a major role in the game, although his voice is being spoken by someone else. The Mexican's accent turned out to be too thick for the English-language game.
Kojima is a crazy movie
It is no wonder that this game is full of actors: game director Hideo Kojima is known for his great love of films. His plan was once to make films, until at the last minute he decided to focus on games. His PlayStation game Metal Gear Solid is known as one of the first cinematic games in the world.
The circle for Kojima has now also been completed: he recently said that his new game studio will also be producing films in the future. The motion-capture technology from Death Stranding is probably used for this.
Many of the actors in Death Stranding are old acquaintances for Kojima. Del Toro and Reedus would help with the production of the horror game Silent Hills, the development of which was stopped in 2015. When Kojima left his old employer, the actor and director decided to help with his new game.
Is it a fun game?
Death Stranding is a unique type of game that you play completely differently than other games. At the same time, the story is full of references to broader topics. Reedus' journey through the game to connect America, for example, seems to be a reference to the current state of the United States. His bond with the fetus is also a constant means of talking about parenting.
Opinions about the game are divided. If you look at Metacritic compilation site, you will see reviews that call it one of the best games ever and texts that completely tear down the game. In addition, journalists seem to be predominantly positive: the average score based on 83 reviews is 8.3 out of 10.