Finally, Death Stranding released and ended the three-year-long agonizing series of puzzling trailers, gameplay reveals, and plot points. And, finally everybody can have a taste of the new world, Hideo Kojima, a legendary game developer who needs no introduction, brings us. His studio has been hard at work, firstly with becoming an independent label, then secondly with incepting innovative new concepts, and now they bravely try to, once again, push the boundaries in the industry.
Development and reception
This Death Stranding official release date trailer kind of sums up all the previous ones in just under nine minutes, with a fantastic track “Path” by Apocalyptica to turn the power up to the maximum. This is the fruition of a rocky and lengthy period of development, which reportedly began while Kojima and his team were still under Konami. They had a long corporate conflict, but in 2015, the team broke free and began operating as an independent label titled Kojima Studios. The group immediately partnered up with Sony Interactive Entertainment and announced that a new PlayStation game is in the works, and one year later we got our first trailer for it.
For the next three years, the studio slowly released more and more trying to let off just enough to tease without spoiling anything, and they’ve succeeded for nobody could figure out what’s in store. Death Stranding release date was on November 8th, 2019, but already some major publications on the web got their taste of it and their feedback is all over the place. Some praise the innovations and the groundbreaking elements Kojima used in both storytelling and gameplay, while others just can’t swallow the hyper-realistic approach it uses to try and immerse the player deep. As proof of it, GamesRadar+ gave it a 3,5 out of 5 stars and IGN gave it a 6.8 out of 10, but GameSpot gave it a 9/10 and Game Revolution gave it a clean 5/5.
It was concluded before that this game is set in the distant future, in the USA, and in a post-apocalyptic period in time. People live in isolation and have created something referred to as ‘walls’ which means much more than the basic definition of the word. The basic goal of the main character i.e. the player is to connect these fractions of society. To build Bridges sort to say and the character’s name is Sam Arthur Bridges and he works for a company called Bridges.
However, things take a darker, more paranormal, turn with the introduction of some strange ghostly beings who can be detected only by a baby which Sam carries around with him in a special container. However, the story is further developed an deepened by a large cast of characters who are all played by famous actors, including Sam. The main character has the likeness and the voice of actor Norman Reedus, known for The Boondock Saints and The Walking Dead, while other stars include: Mads Mikkelsen, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Lindsay Wagner, Margaret Qualley, and more.
Death Stranding gameplay is tied closely to the story, as the overall feeling is as though you are “playing a movie”. This is primarily a result of a bold and challenging storyline, and secondly by the incredibly realistic adaptation of it through gameplay mechanics. However, this turned out to be both praised and rejected by players worldwide, as hyper-realism brings an immersive experience but it can also annoy the player by forcing you to fight to stay upright as you run through rough terrain.
Yes, you read that correctly. As Sam traverses the desolate plains of this world ravaged by a catastrophe, he constantly keeps gathering and upgrading his gear, and his backpack can become larger than the character. So, running with it is difficult, as Kojima chose to challenge us on every step the character takes. Also, the intricate inventory brings perhaps one of the most developed ability/item set seen in games so far, but it can also make you spend too much time in it.
However, once you get the feel of the game and you advance throughout the main story, it evolves further. At some point down the line, Sam gets to drive cars, teleport, and do everything an average person would do when stranded in some of the areas of this open-world.
Also, there are innovations in the combat system, and overall, Death Stranding gameplay brings never before seen ideas and solutions to some dilemmas developers often have. It is an action sci-fi game, but it is a genre in and of itself.
Graphics and appearance
Nearly all of the actors included in the project have provided motion capture and voices for their characters. Needless to say, the scenery and the environment look astounding and everything gives off a strange feeling of desolation and isolation, which is the overarching theme of the game. Modeling was handled perfectly and combined with impeccable textures it gives off the hyper-realistic feeling the developers aimed for. Compared to the also realistic depiction of the physics of the world in which the story is set, it composes a high-class work of gameplay.
Aiming for hyper-realism in gameplay as much as you do in the visual style is risky. Pairing it with a complicated sci-fi story is even more so, but Death Stranding does it in a manner that only Kojima could pull off. Throughout the game, the traditional values of the Metal Gear series will shine through, but they are enveloped in something new and groundbreaking. If we got the message correctly, this video game aims to immerse the player in a cinematic, hyper-realistic gaming experience, but it also seems to attempt to blur the boundaries between the movie and a video game. According to Hideo Kojima himself, these boundaries are inevitably disappearing so from this perspective, and this latest game is an important checkpoint in the history of gaming development.