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Death Stranding review. AKA: Kojima making the best delivery simulator. With ghosts, and a baby.

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I have finally finished this LOOONG ass game. I know the reception this game gets is currently one of split decision, and I agree. You will either hate this game, or you're going to enjoy every minute of this game. I thankfully belong to the latter category. There is one thing that everyone can agree on though: this game is LOOOOOONG.

Image result for death stranding

The one thing that must be in everyone's mind when they saw the trailers for this game is definitely "WTF is this game even about?" Well I'll tell ya. So in this game's universe in 20xx, USA was once a country heavily dependant on ais & machines. Most work that requires manpower were replaced with robots, and everyone was happy. Well..... actually no because while it's efficient and better than usual, the people hated their jobs being taken by robots, so they decided to return to work normal. Then the people think "actually, I think robots did a better job than we did" and they got all depressed..... why not just work together with the robots then??


Just when you think that is a problem, one day a giant explosion happened all across America, and that explosion ruined the internet for the entire USA, while leaving behind a giant crater & invisible ghosts from the other dimension to attack the living world, AKA Beach Things (BTs) cause in this world, everyone has an afterlife in the form of a beach, and these ghosts came from there. From then on, everything was fucked. Chaos ensues, people can't connect to the internet or use machinery & ais like they used to, only limited connection allowed, rains are shitty because they make ghosts appear while also deteriorating/aging objects + people who got hit with them, and people have to rely on the old fashioned Fed-Ex courier service to get things back on track, and Norman Reedus, or Sam Porter Bridges here, is one of those couriers. He's very well known across USA as "the man who delivers", basically a really damn good courier that everyone knows. Quite a step down from Solid Snake & Big Boss, but still pretty good. Like both of them, Sam doesn't care about politics, but for him it's mostly because he had a phobia since he's little called "aphenphosmphobia". Basically he doesn't like being touched, and if he's touched, he'll get a handprint mark on his body, which is why he had so much of it in the E3 trailer. Well....... what a sucky ass phobia.

So what's the goal of this game? Well, the game starts while Sam is on one of his couriers run, and after he finished his work, he's given a big responsibility by the current president of USA, his mother Bridget Strand who's on her deathbed. Unfortunately, it's not a happy family reunion since both of them left on a sour note before

So basically, she wants Sam to "make America whole". To do that, he has to go to every base across USA, use a necklace device that turns their internet back on so everyone can connect to each other again (yep you read that right, you're this game's equivalent of an internet technician), while of course, becoming the best Fed Ex courier ahem I mean "Bridges Porter" in USA. All while you babysit a cute little baby, and also while fighting ghosts, terrorists & Mads Mikkelsen. He was all "fuck this shit, I'm not doing this" until he found out that his sister Amelie is waiting for him at the end of the road, which then made him change his mind. Yep, that woman in red is his sister, not his wife. Who would have thought from the trailers?


The overall story of the game is, wow, very much a story that can only be made by Hideo Kojima. Lots of cutscenes and quirky characters are to be expected, especially considering that Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn provided their likenesses on 2 characters. I like both of them, especially Nicolas because his character Heartman likes to give you thumbs up all the time while being mr exposition. This game's story is full of the usual twists that Kojima is known for, but overall the story teaches you an important life lesson: connecting with people is very important. Also, don't fuck with Sam's baby or he will destroy you. In this universe, these babies are also known as "Bridge Babies" (BBs), and their function is to detect the invisible ghosts. They are issued by the government after that explosion thing that destroyed the internet happened. If you can wrap your head around what I just mentioned, good! You're all set to play the game.


To determine if you will like this game or not depends entirely on this fact: are you a fan of delivery games like Euro Truck Simulator, Pepsi Man


Or even...... this game?

If you are, then BOY HOWDY you're going to love this game! Though this game does have a system that makes things quite tricky at first: you have to manage how many items you carry for your delivery. At the start you're going to be quite limited in your weight limit & space, and in most of the game, using vehicles are the recommended solution. L2 & R2 makes you use your left & right arm, mostly to brace yourself so you don't fall, but also to hold packages using your hand. Each packages have a container which has durability, so you need to keep track of them if you want to get the highest grade for your deliveries. You will make deliveries to many outposts & bases, and each of them will give you items that will be very useful for your future deliveries. You'll get upgrades that increase your weight limit, a floating carrier that lets you put items which is much more useful than you think, run faster or climb mountains easier in the form of mechanical leg skeletons, and even fancier weaponries to bring with you in combat. My advice is to do deliveries for this guy called the "Engineer" & get him to have 4 stars so you can get the skeleton that dramatically increases your weight limit asap, which will make future deliveries FAAAARRR easier. It can be quite funny to see Norman Reedus struggling with his packages when you put too much on him though.


Most of the game is quite simple: go to a base, make a delivery from point a to point b while maybe fighting ghosts or bandits that will steal your packages. You can do it anyway you want: by walking all the way to your destination, driving there, or as the game progresses, use these awesome ziplines. And man oh man, these things are going to be your best friend when you're making deliveries on a mountain.

Unfortunately you won't be able to use these ziplines the first time you venture forth to making deliveries in a new area because the way the game works is that you have to go to a base and then activate their internet in order to build structures around that place. But what you can do is make sure to build these ziplines as often as you can, while also making sure that nothing blocks it so multiple ziplines can connect with each other. Let me tell ya though, the feeling you get when you successfully build these ziplines and then using it to make future deliveries even easier is, muah, very rewarding indeed. I built so many of these things, and I am heavily rewarded by my diligence. Not only for myself, but for other people online that uses them as well.


Speaking of other people, this game is VERY heavy on its social interaction with other players. Everytime you turn on the internet for a base, you will be able to see other people's structures that they build, and together you will all help each other out in making future deliveries far easier. One of the best example is from highway. At first you'll be having problems travelling because the roads are full of ghosts & bandits. You see these highway pods that allows you to build a highway, but most of the time you'll have a difficulty just trying to get the materials to build these things. But then all of a sudden, thanks to everyone online contributing to the construction, you will see giant freeways that DRASTICALLY makes your trip much faster. I have never been so happy looking at a freeway before in a game, especially one that drastically shortens your trip that takes 20 minutes before down to just 4 minutes. Unity FTW!


Other examples include building bridges, building safe houses which will replenish your health, bullet & stamina meter and acts as a fast travel spot once you unlock the ability in chapter 3, building the ziplines I mentioned before & having vehicles ready for you to use in the middle of a long trip. Ah, and you can also pee on a spot & make mushrooms grow.

These mushrooms can actually help you out. If you make a GIANT pile of mushrooms, these small bug things called cryptobiote will pop out of it. You gather these things for yourself & they act as health items that increase your HP, or blood meter. Also, you can actually pee against the invisible ghosts that you have to deal with, and they'll be eliminated that way.

So yep, peeing in this game is highly recommended. ;) 


Now combat in this game is pretty simple. When you fight against people, it's kind of like Phantom Pain, only you can't use CQC. Here you use a 2 punch + kick combo, a shoulder tackle, a rope for close range sneaking tactics, firearms & your packages, though to do this requires you to hold down a package by hand by holding either L2 or R2 and then square to whack people with it. If you release the L2 R2 while you're swinging it, you can throw that thing at a distance instead. This is the most recommended way to dealing with bandits. Fighting ghosts on the other hand requires weapons that use Sam's blood. During the first few chapters of the game, you're pretty much defenceless against them & you have to use you BB to stealth your way out of their sight. When a rain drops, that's a sign that ghosts are nearby, and BB will help you detect them using the metal prongs on Sam's backpack that pinpoint their location. Careful though, cause doing this will make BB tire easily. The baby will also get its stamina depleted if you fell or trip on your ass, but you can make the baby calmer by moving your PS4 controller up & down.

Fun fact: Yakuza 6 did this first.

You'll unlock blood grenades that you can use to FINALLY fight the ghosts in Chapter 2, which is around 7 - 10 hours in the game, maybe even faster if you can rush your deliveries & skip cutscenes, but then after chapter 3, you'll unlock normal weaponry like assault rifles & pistols which uses Sam's blood as bullets, even a wrist knife that can stealth kill those ghosts, and this is when the game becomes more challenging, and might I say, more awesome, because that's when you first fight Mads Mikkelsen. Remember this trailer from TGA?

This is the second time you fight against him. You'll first fight him in Chapter 4, and BOY OH BOY, that is when this game turns from good delivery simulator to "okay, now this is AWESOME". He is one of the best parts of this game. Everything about him is so damn cool like the TGA trailer, but also really touching, especially once you get into the final stretches of the game where you finally figure out who he really is.


The bossfights in the game, aside from Mikkelsen, are pretty damn awesome to fight. I can't spoil what you'll fight against, but you bet your ass that it's a better collection of bosses than Phantom Pain. So much so that I want to fight some of these bosses all over again. Kojima just knows how to make fun boss fights. Weird thing is that the final boss in this game is actually NOT the true final boss fight. I guess you can say that it's more like a henchman than a proper boss. Still fun to fight against regardless.


There are 2 things that I found annoying about this game. Even if you are one of the people who like this game, there's no escaping the fact that the sidequests in this game is lacking, because they're either collectible hunt or just making another delivery to the places you delivered to before so you can get higher connection level with settlements to get the best upgrades for you to use. You do get cool rewards, even a couple of celebrity cameos like Conan O Brien, Geoff Keighley, even freaking Sam Lake & lore expansions through emails, but man, such a shame that you don't get sidequests with good plot. All the story stuff happened during the main game. Hell, even Phantom Pain at least have a sidequest involving Paz and how depressing as hell it was even though the rest of the sidequest are just mission repeats to get the true ending. The one part of this game that should be in a sidequest is easily solved in one of the emails, and that's involving a guy in a junkyard & his girlfriend. So in the main story, I had to bring them together by delivering the girl to the guy. But then afterward, they both were having boyfriend girlfriend issue so they had a fight. Ok, that sounds depressing. But then afterward they sent me an email saying they're ok again. Why not have me help them out as a sidequest instead???


And another thing: even though you have a bunch of music that you can play in your saveroom, you can't play them during your deliveries anytime you want. They can only be played during specific story sections when you almost arrived on a base for delivery, or when you set it up on structures that you and other players build as a customization option. What's the point of these songs if I can't listen to them anytime I want during my trip?? I don't want to just listen to silence the majority of my trip! Please have a free update that lets me play these songs on the road.


I really enjoyed my time with this game overall. Kojima's secretly making the best delivery simulator possible, and he succeeded. This definitely will not win GOTY, but it's still a really good game regardless & it makes delivering packages fun & shows that unity can make everything better. By the end of this game, I left really satisfied, though there are 2 things that I still couldn't figure out: who the hell are those giant ghosts flying in the sky, and what the hell happened to the other countries besides USA?? I guess we're gonna have to wait for the sequel to find out more!


I give this game the rating of "so awesome that you never thought that a game where making deliveries can be this much fun, and you can't wait for the sequel, if there is any", with a badass seal of approval.


Keep in mind, this is only for you people that enjoyed delivery simulator games. If you think those games are painful to play & boring, then you better skip this one. One thing's for sure though, whether you like it or not, people are still talking about this game. And that, in the end, is what Kojima intended: have people connect to each other about this game & making even more people know about it. I'm glad Kojima made a game that he really want to do without Konami to control him anymore. Whatever his next game/thing is, I will be on board. Can't wait to see what's next from him!


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