You are Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus). The man who always delivers.
Eeking out a nomadic life as a courier, delivering packages across the devastated nation of America. Risking his own life for ‘Likes’ as payment crossing areas where many will not, through the repeated acid rain showers ensuring that the cargo he is entrusted with is (hopefully) delivered on time and undamaged.
From the onset of Hideo Kojima’s visionary cinematic open world Death Stranding game you immediately feel the isolation, the loneliness. This what Sam prefers.
An open and dystopian environment awaits you through rugged terrain. Dotted throughout, if you explore a bit you’ll come across lost cargo. Picking these up and strapping to your back (which adds weight of course and may slow you down or reduce your stamina times) gets you bonus ‘Likes’ upon delivery.
And wow, there’s a lot of area to explore.
Things begin to change in Sam’s loner existence while he is on a delivery, speeding down the broken and empty highways of the once bustling city when a girl appears before him on the road. Swerving on the wet and slippery road, both Sam and his bike spin out. His bike worse off.
Now on foot and guided in part by the girl on the road you seek shelter from the deadly rain. This is your first introduction to a BT (a mostly invisible black ghost creature).
Cursed or blessed (depending on how you see it) Sam has a power known as DOOMS. Being a ‘Repatriate’ (resurrected) he has something called Chiral matter within his body. A black smokey, yet can be sticky substance – that if he encounters or is exposed to too much of it it can be deadly and when you relieve yourself (yes this is a function within the game) you can lose some of it – this too can have adverse affects.
While Sam cannot see the supernatural monstrous entities, he is able to sense them.
Equipping a BB (baby in a cryo-pod) will increase his detection abilities – but someone with DOOMS shouldn’t pair with a BB, it can be hazardous to both. And for the non DOOMS folk a BB is a necessity if out in the open.
BB’s must match with their owner and also require comfort and recharging of sorts.
If BT’s are near, don’t breath, don’t make a sound, don’t get in their path and eventually they will fade away. With every acid rain storm they come… what has died is no longer dead in this new world.
It is here that I must say Death Stranding does a remarkably unfaultable task of setting the entire games’ premise within it’s initial long playable intro.
Each Level is played out as a Chapter.
Chapter 1 is mostly about you, the player, coming to grips with the real world physics, how the environment and hazards can change in a split second and throughout the entire gameplay, more of what has happened and Sam’s past come to light via ingame cinematics.
Throughout the ensuing Chapters, Sam find himself begrudgingly enlisted in a Contract with Bridges after the death of an immediate family member that he had chosen to be distant from.
You are assigned by Bridges to cremate the body of your family member. Bodies must be burned within 48 hours of death. Before you leave you are given a BT unit and told you need to incinerate that aswell.
The BB belonged to a Bridges worker who was killed. It had already served its usefulness and supposedly could not be paired with anyone else. But the BB he was meant to have destroyed, he saved and it saved him, going against the laws of this new ethereal nature Sam pairs with it.
Sam always worked alone. Until now. The organisation called Bridges are planning on creating a new unified America. Bringing back order and a normal way of life (as normal as possible in this new existence), but is that their entire motive…
To keep things in check you have been fitted with a cuff which will display your objectives and keep you in touch with one of Bridges more hierarchal chaps known as Deadman (played by Guillermo del Toro).
Upon return from the incinerator, Sam learns that another immediate family member is being held captive by a rebel group soon after a mission in to a hazardous zone to cremate a body of a loved one, you as Sam are set on a Mission of rescue.
You and your BB set out for the no-mans lands, the side of the country that Bridges does not have control of.
Prepare to learn more about Sam, his family connections and of course the intentions of Bridges as you enter the ‘dangerous’ rebel area.
Asides from taking care of your BB and finding collectibles around the vastness that is Death Stranding you will equip other items. Your D-Pad becomes your quick select (even urinating, which is important to keep yourself on the move optimally).
The trackpad on your DualShock4 brings up the Map and here you can pin to various destinations, most likely where you are headed to now.
If you get lost, and you will, equipping your futuristic shades will enable you to see points of interest aswell as retrace your own footsteps and a compass will display the direction you’re meant to be headed in.
There are some VERY epic battles to be had against larger than life supernatural beasts and it is not a case of shoot or melee, a lot of the entities that you come across may take some strategy to get past.
If you’re outnumbered, use crouch and tread very carefully and quietly.
The internal speaker on your controller gives voice to your BB. If your BB gets restless or stressed, you need to take note. You REALLY need to take note and stop and comfort the infant.
Gameplay difficulty varies on the Mission, environment and complexity of tasks at hand. More often than not the terrain will prove to be more of a hazard than you would think. Some player perseverance is required aswell as you go vast distances on foot.
Real world physics apply in Death Stranding and while you can steady yourself and / or your cargo if carrying with the controlpads shoulder buttons, take a knock, a slip or a fall is likely to hasten your Mission – depending on directive.
Death Stranding is over 60 hours in play time and many well-known actor cameos. It’s an investment of a game and likely one that you will spread over quite a few days… or not and just marathon it.
This said – there are loading times and a lot of cinematics – which all add to the total completion timeframe.
Having played Death Stranding exclusively for the past two weeks I found myself excited to come home at the end of the day and see more of the story of Sam Porter, the man who always delivers unravel.
There are never any encounters or Missions that you can’t get passed. But you do need patience, at times alot of it.
Personally I can’t recommend Death Stranding enough.
A game that is total immersion in play, to the likes of an interactive CGI blockbuster with a deep and twisty tale to tell and a unique view on the complexities of real world life and death.
Death Stranding needs to be played.