WARNING: Minor spoilers for Death Stranding ahead.
Hideo Kojima’s highly anticipated and now polarizing game, Death Stranding has been out for about two weeks. Many people are debating whether the game is anything special. Well, I’m here to tell you why I think Death Stranding is a truly unique experience.
The Bizarre Worldbuilding
If there’s one thing that Hideo Kojima is infamous for, it’s creating and developing an over-the-top story that’s as bizarre as it is fascinating. The world of Death Stranding and the now destroyed America is full of mysteries, like how the BT’s and the BB’s connect with the devastating Death Stranding.
This is one of many the mystery that motivated me to keep playing just to see what happens next. The characters also help improve the world-building with the likes of Cliff, Deadman, Lou and Higgs. They all bring something new to the table and open up a new aspect of the world. Whether it involves The Beach, Voidouts, DOOMS, Timefalls etc. I can’t think of any other games that the same uniqueness that this game offers in terms of worldbuilding.
The Gameplay & The Strand System
Many expected that the game would offer up a lot more than what we were shown in the previews. But when the game actually released, many were taken aback and worried that the core gameplay was centred around walking, claiming Death Stranding to be a walking simulator. To be fair, it kind of is until you reach chapter 3 when the game really opens up with the introduction of The Strand System.
For those who don’t know, The Strand System is a mechanic that involves players externally helping other players in the game. For example, let’s say I have a ladder with me on my journey and there’s a cliff in front of me. If I decide to place the ladder there, I can choose to leave it there instead of retrieving it after use. Some other players might go to the same cliff and might find the same ladder I placed and use it for themselves, giving me ‘Likes’ in appreciation for my helpfulness. This can extend to roads, vehicles, zip-lines, weapons, signs etc. This function is something truly unique. Anyone that plays the game can agree that The Strand System is not only innovative but also incredibly fun.
The Message Behind the Game
Probably the most important aspect about Death Stranding is Hideo Kojima’s message about connections. Both the gameplay mechanics and story are both based around the theme of the connection of the world. For example, the whole goal of the game is to reconnect outposts and sections of America to the Chiral Network. Which is pretty much a metaphor for the way we all connect with each other through the Internet.
Even The Strand System follows this as well by providing pseudo-multiplayer gameplay where you can only help each other. There’s barely any way to troll or negatively impact other players online (at least from my experience). Even the story has some great dialogue and scenarios that reinforce the theme of connection, whether it’s the storyline of Sam and Lou or Mama and her sister, Lockne. Even villains like Higgs have lines like, “You can’t make connections without handshakes”. Or even Cliff’s whole motivation to find his BB to feel connected with someone again. In this day and age, people would rather keep to themselves and be isolated from the world, and I think the message about connecting with others is more important than ever!
In the end, whether you like the game or not, I think it’s safe to say that Death Stranding did something new and innovative for gaming. The Strand System is unique and surprisingly fun — I just hope it doesn’t get underused like Shadow of War‘s Nemesis System. In addition, the world is straight-up bonkers for all the right reasons and the story and message behind the game is something most people should at least consider moving forward.
You can buy the game now for $89.99 on PS4 or pre-purchase it on Steam here.
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