The Early Reviews for Death Stranding are in and it seems to be a very polarizing game. It seems you are in a camp of enjoying the game with minimal complaints or semi enjoying with lots of complaints. MetaCritic currently has the game at an 84/100 with over 70 reviews, some of which can be read below:
Death Stranding is unlike anything else out there in the gaming medium right now. It’s huge, innovative and utterly unashamed in what it wants to be. Kojima Productions is heavy-handed in its implementation of modern political themes, but they tie into the narrative and involve the player in ways that feel beautifully compelling- resulting in one of the strongest final acts I’ve seen in some time.
It’s going to be polarizing, glacial in its pacing during the opening hours as it expects players to delve into its mechanics, finding out what makes it tick while bonding with other couriers through a personal network of massive significance. I laughed, I cried and I grinned like a stupid idiot at the absurdity of it all. But by the end, I was left wanting more. Death Stranding is one of a kind, cementing itself as a weird, wonderful masterpiece.
Following years of mysterious anticipation, Death Stranding delivers on all fronts. An accomplished, fascinating set of gameplay mechanics allow you to make deliveries the way you want to, while social features let the game live on once you’ve put the controller down. It may become slightly tiresome as you hit the halfway mark, but the phenomenal narrative is on hand to pick things back up again and its outstanding visuals are the cherry on top. Death Stranding doesn’t raise the bar for any particular genre, it creates an entirely new one.
Death Stranding is like nothing I have ever played; beautiful, heart racing, heart breaking, frustrating, epic, stunning, and utterly nuts. I laughed, I cried, I cursed, and I went to the toilet an awful lot. Death Stranding isn’t just my Game of the Year, it’s a contender for Game of the Generation too.
Death Stranding is not a “fun” game, but it’s an important and meaningful experience that earns its payoff through every bit of frustration and slog. Its a look at life and death, connection and solitude; a game about building up what matters most and supporting each other selflessly. You’ll be bored at times and downright frustrated at others, but it comes with a great reward at the end that is made sweeter by the trials that precede it. It’s brilliantly unique in its design and implementation of online elements. Even if it’s got a few places where it stumbles, Death Stranding firmly holds down R2 and L2 to regain its balance and deliver an unmatched experience.
Death Stranding is a hard game to absorb. There are many intertwining threads to its plot, and silly names, corny moments, and heavy exposition belie an otherwise very simple message. That comes through much more clearly in the game’s more mundane moments, when you find a desperately-needed ladder left behind by another player or receive a letter from an NPC thanking you for your efforts. It’s positive without ignoring pain; in fact, it argues in both its story and its gameplay that adversity itself is what makes things worth doing and life worth living. It’s a game that requires patience, compassion, and love, and it’s also one we really need right now.
Death Stranding contains aspects that could have been better. It’s also easy to cherish your time with it. It’s exactly the kind of game that opens your eyes to how nauseatingly safe most games are. Death Stranding shoots for the moon, carelessly tossing away convention in ways others wouldn’t dare. The game wants you to be uncomfortable, confused, bored, and to reflect on those feelings, to sit with them for a while. There is a sense of fearlessness here that’s hard not to respect and that most aren’t given the opportunity to attempt. Death Stranding is an easy, easy game to complain about or even be angry at, but it’s also a lot more fascinating than many other, more conservative works.
Death Stranding is not the overly-strange inaccessible walled garden the marketing has made it out to be. It’s weird, don’t get me wrong! But anyone with a surface-level understanding of surrealism in art should be able to acclimate to what is essentially a playable Hollywood production.
Try as it might, Death Stranding’s story doesn’t shore up its faults. It’s the normal Kojima mix of twists-and-turns, tropes, and overbearing themes, but at least I like that it explores real-world topics like the theory of multiple dimensions and key events in the history of the planet’s biodiversity. Like Sam himself, I often wasn’t sure why I kept going in Death Stranding. Maybe there was a little bit of pride in another task checked off the list, another job done. Unfortunately, this added up to little reward in the end.
Death Stranding does have its moments though, despite the overall monotony of its principal activity. The groundbreaking visuals create a beautiful world, and there’s an incredible atmosphere when you reach a great view, or take a moment bathe in the glory of the snow crusted mountain you’ve just scaled. When the setting, progress and music combine it is a mood. If nothing else I’m a Low Roar fan now having played 70 odd hours of possibly the most expensive interactive music video ever made.
Progress is key to really enjoying it. I hit around 30 hours at the Chapter 3 mark, before I discovered I was barely a quarter of the way through and made the conscious decision to focus more on the story. Doing so gives everything more impact and meaning by bringing the cutscenes and story closer together, and adds more variety to what limited texture with a quicker progression of new locations, equipment and other things. You can spend days if not weeks making side-deliveries to a cameo heavy cast of survivors and gain little from it bar a deafening gulf between narrative beats that leaves fragmented isolated moments devoid of all connecting momentum. There is an okay experience here, filled with a scrapbooking hokum of afterlife mythology and pseudoscience, with a cast of likeable if bluntly literal characters but it’s a game that, ironically, is easily lost in its lengthy delivery.
Certain landmark games in recent years, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption 2, have managed to successfully tread the line between the rigidity of realism and the exhilaration of pure escapism. But much like its stumbling protagonist, Death Stranding just can’t consistently get the balance right despite possessing equally lofty ambitions and countless inventive ideas. There is a fascinating, fleshed-out world of supernatural science fiction to enjoy across its sprawling and spectacular map, so it’s a real shame that it’s all been saddled on a gameplay backbone that struggles to adequately support its weight over the full course of the journey. It’s fitting that Kojima Productions’ latest is so preoccupied with social media inspired praise, because in some ways I did ‘Like’ Death Stranding. I just didn’t ever love it.
At some specific story points, you’re whisked away to other places for exciting, one-off action sequences. These moments are huge standouts, but they come so late that I imagine a good portion of players would have fallen off by then. The same goes for some of the most interesting equipment – exoskeletons, a cargo carrier that you can ride like a snowboard, those ziplines, the harpoon gun, and more – which doesn’t come until you’re into the double digits.
If you do manage to hold out, you will be rewarded with flashes of brilliance, it’s just that those flashes are buried as deep as the core story is buried in the endless dialogue. And as profound as it wants to be, this is still a game in which you can equip and unequip your penis so you can piss out Red Bull. The good stuff is waiting for you beyond that piss, beyond the shit grenades, beyond that Ride with Norman Reedus advert unceremoniously plastered into a game universe where I didn’t see a single television set. It’s just a test of attrition.
Also, here’s a couple of Video Reviews by YongYea and Skill Up, which are Spoiler-Free:
In a week, the entire world will be able to get their hands on Death Stranding, it will be very interesting to see the opinion of the the public when it comes to this game of divisive opinions.