Analysis / Review: Death Stranding [2019]; Part Three: Playing Through Extinction

ᴘʀᴏʟᴏɢᴜᴇ

ᴄʟɪᴄᴋ ʜᴇʀᴇ ᴛᴏ sᴋɪᴘ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ

Hello everyone. Spotwoman CORVIDS Writer here. For the last two weeks I’ve been making my way across the Corvid network to find a writer for our Death Stranding gameplay review. I’ve reconnected many posts along the way, and I’m trying my best to make The Corvid Review whole again, but I haven’t had much luck finding someone who’s finished the game. Last week, Crow Captain-man released the first part of his “story” review and he’s nearly done with the BIG one, so my time’s running out.

All I’ve got is a lead. I’ve heard of someone who’s finished the game, and I’m nearly at their location. I’ve got tons of things on my back and a little BB-Swan(!) who’s getting really upset. The only problem is that this “someone” has been captured by a group named the ‘Corvo Demens’, and I’m going to have to figure out how to…

Wait. My Odradek’s going nuts. Give me a minute.
Cheers BB-Swan(!)’s crying.

Oh no… What’s that?

We’re DOOMed.

“ɪ ̡̗͔̫͎̟ᴀ̧̡̭̥̫̫ᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ͈̦̗̞̩͎ᴇ̭̼̞͜͜͜x̨̨̨̤̩̠ᴛɪɴᴄᴛ̨͇̜̪̤͔ɪᴏɴ ᴇɴᴛɪ̘̺͔͈̗ͅᴛʏ̘̝͉̻͕͎”

Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ Iɴᴅᴇx —

a gameplay review of Death Stranding, by the “Extinction Entity”.

(ಠ ◡ ಠ)

Hello you victims lovely readers. I’ve played Death Stranding. And the story of this game… oh my. When I realised what it was all about… just like Thanos, I was inevitable. This is going to be a full review of the game, but I’ll leave details of the story out whenever I can because someone else’s on it.
(The 29th‘s also my third anniversary on here, so I get to celebrate it with a post! Void the rules!)
(And no. This isn’t a “come back” post. This is just a special appearance. This is me doing Spotty a favour. Nothing more. Don’t give the old man grief for this. He didn’t know either.)

Welcome to episode three, where you’re going to see what DOOMS-day looks and feels like. This game’s gotten a lot of reviews already and a few folks seem split over it. And I kind of expected that even though the game’s getting mostly rave reviews. This isn’t the kind of thing that’s for everyone and the trailers said so as well. What were you expecting from Kojima-san? A Metal Gear clone? Pfft! That’s not how the guy rolls. But let’s get around to the game in a more organised way. I guess ending existence can wait for a little longer. We’ll put it on hold for now ‘kay?

(And before you ask… I’m going to be my serious self for this review. Kinda.)

Right! Enough talking! Let’s get into it!


ᴛʜᴇ ͈̦̗̞̩͎ᴇ̭̼̞͜͜͜x̨̨̨̤̩̠ᴛɪɴᴄᴛ̨͇̜̪̤͔ɪᴏɴ ᴇɴᴛɪ̘̺͔͈̗ͅᴛʏ̘̝͉̻͕͎

SPOILER LEVELS at EHH… YOU’LL BE FINE

Death Stranding straight-up tells you it’s going to be a special game. Even though I didn’t like Prometheus (and shoved its sequel straight into my bucket), the intro for the game is a lot like it. There are all these shots of some lovely European hills and rocks, and there’s this really cool song playing in the background. But there’s something kinda… off about some of the shots. And WE know what that means! Foreshadowing!

But the point I’m getting at is that this game tells you from the start that it’s going to take itself seriously. This is something Kojima-san usually shows off in his games before smacking you over the head with pee and poo jokes, but I don’t really think he’s ever made a game that starts out like this. I get that he’s been held back by the MGS series and how those games made you want to feel the “action” right from the get-go since they’re all about supersoldiers and NANOMACHINES, but this one feels like it’s going to be some bigtime art piece right from the first shot. And it’s gorgeous. I’d watch that intro a billion times if I could.

Anyway… Sam (Norman Reedus) rolls up on his future-bike wearing these really silly looking shades. And a few… random pointless birds show up. Sam sees the birds booking it from… something and books it too. And BAM! He nearly runs over a chick who’s just… standing out in the middle of nowhere… with a brolly, doing… I don’t know what. Sam ends up crashing his bike and once he’s back on his feet, the game starts teaching you what it’s all about. Your tutorial “mission” is all about recovering the baggage (cargo) you dropped when you went flat on your face and getting yourself somewhere where the rain won’t touch you.

You see… Sam’s known as Sam Porter Bridges “The Man Who Delivers” because he’s the best damn postman the future’s got. When you need to blow up a giant nuclear mecha, you call Solid Snake. When you need to save Princess Peach, you call Mario. When you need that Dominos delivered in twenty minutes, you call Sam Porter Bridges “The Man Who Delivers”!

And do you know what makes him so good at his job? Are you already thinking about all the high-tech ways of delivering things from A to B the future is going to have?

It’s… walking. With things on his back (most of the time).

I’m not joking around here. This game’s a tiiiny bit like QWOP on easy mode with a ton of realism and tons of baggage chucked in. Walking and making sure you’re balanced is like 50% of the trouble you run into.

I always wanted to know where Old/Solid Snake (David Hayter) hid that damn railgun in MGS4 and it looks like that’s something which bothered Kojima-san as well, since he’s just gone and made a game about carrying things while walking. And this game isn’t going to let you get away with mechanics. Oh no birdies. The sticks are so sensitive and the world is so detailed that one wrong step is going to make you get pizza all over that amazing landscape if you’re not careful (pin the pizza, you lot! I’ll get to that soon!).

I’ve had trouble with maps before. I’ve fallen through the floor on a buncha games. I’ve got caught on bad code when making a wrong jump before. But this game… I’ve never wanted to kill a game worse than Death Stranding when I started out with it. This game uses the things you’re walking over like weapons. It can be really frustrating, but when you get the grip of it you actually feel like you learned something. That gets a 10/10. It’s different (no it’s nothing like QWOP) and it’s done really well.

Is everyone going to like it? Heck no. Is it going to spawn a new genre of games? Nope. Death Stranding doesn’t care about fitting into those boxes. And that’s probably why so many people aren’t sure about whether they think it’s good or not.

Now I like things which need smarts (which you might not get from reading some of the things I’ve written on here). And this game makes the map something to think about. It’s nothing that needs an IQ over 9000 or anything, but it’s pretty awesome how Kojima made something that’s as vanilla as the ground you’re walking on a part of the gameplay by basing it on realism. It makes you think about ‘map control’ in a whole new way. And I’m not talking map control like in Quake and Starcraft. I’m not talking about puzzle boxes like Layers of Fear. I’m talking about “Do I even want to step on that?”. It takes a long time to learn, but it’s so rewarding once you start realising you’re learning things. This is the kind of pat on the back I want instead of “collect 200 pieces of pixels for a shiny” (that’s here too. Don’t you worry.)

And because I’m talking about walking and carrying things… here’s another important thing! I didn’t mention that how you carry your things is important as well. The game even bashes you over the head with it. Remember that pizza I told you to stick a pin in? Yeah. This is where that comes in. At a few points in the game, you actually have to deliver a pizza (faster than whatever your local place says the time should be), and the game actually tells you that you shouldn’t do something as “stupid” as putting it on its side.

This actually goes for everything. Remember the whole timefall thing? That wrecks your luggage. Falling over wrecks your luggage. Getting hit in fights makes you drop luggage. Everything starts to affect your luggage in some way or the other if you’re not paying attention (thank heck I played this after ten months of being sober as a… whatever apart from me is sober). And more your cargo gets wrecked, the lower the likes you’re getting. And you don’t want a low like score do you?

And guess what else? Everything also wrecks Sam. You actually have to take breaks to heal yourself and your cutie-pie little BB up. You have to fix your shoes and take showers. I loved the whole thing in MGS3 where you had to eat and fix yourself up with medicine and quick surgeries, but it got a little annoying every once in a while. It’s still annoying here, but it’s a lot more natural this time round. This game does that too. The only problem I have are the massive ads for MonsterTM Energy drinks that this game rams down your face. But wait… I think we’ve seen this kind of thing before

Seriously though… this game treats Monster Energy drinks like the best drink since sliced bread (hangonamo…)

Now I’m going to get back to Sam in a little bit. I need to tell you a few other things first so that you know why Sam getting wrecked is a bad thing. Now I know this was mentioned in the last post by that other person, but there are these things called voidouts that are a thing. When a person dies, you’ve got a few hours before they “pop”. They get eaten by the spooky B.T.s (the not friendly ghosts) and they blow up like nukes. Sam can come back from the dead, but him getting eaten by a B.T. also ends in a voidout. This pretty much closes out whole areas of the world map and you really don’t want that to happen. Lucky thing is, I don’t think this is a really big risk in the game since I only got eaten by a B.T. after trying to get eaten.

I guess I needed more MonsterTM

The first time the B.T.s attack Sam and some friends he makes (one of the promos basically had this whole scene in it), one of the B.T.s gets sizzled by Sam’s blood. And that’s where the next part comes in…

You have two resources in this game. Red for blood and blue for stamina. Stamina is for all your walking needs. Balance, speed, and all that good stuff. Blood is what keeps you ticking (duh). But here’s a really fun bit! Sam notices that the B.T.s don’t like his blood, so he guesses there’s got to be something there. Some way of using his blood to get back at the spooky ghosts. And guess what?! He’s right! You can straight-up use Sam’s blood as a weapon. But you’d better be careful! If you’re not keeping the right kind of gear on you, you’re going to start drying Sam up like a raisin.

And that’s not all. The B.T.s are allergic to every bit of Sam. It’s kinda why I wanted to get him eaten by one. I wanted to see the B.T. have an allergic reaction and probably have a bad time on the toilet later. That didn’t happen, but apart from eating ALL of him, the spooky ghosts hate his sweat and blood and… other things. The game has these awkwardly long cutscenes with Sam doing his… business in his all-purpose toilet cabinet. And yep… you probably guessed it. Sam’s “number one” and “number two” also get turned into weapons you can use on the B.T.s.

(◔ _ ◔) …oookay

I told you Kojima-san couldn’t leave the toilet out of things.

So… you basically have to keep an eye on Sam. His blood and stamina and pee and poo are all important. Even taking a shower becomes a part of the gameplay. Make sure to keep fresh boots on him and let him take a nap whenever you can. Otherwise you may as well be toast (made out of sliced bread). And don’t forget about BB! BB’s even more important than Sam (but we’ll get to the cutie pie later…)!

I talked a little about weapons. Weapons mean fights. But what the hell are you doing with weapons in a game about walking around and delivering pizzas?!

Walking’s not all the game has silly! It’s not all about trying to keep yourself on your little human feet. This game has a lot of gameplay options mixed up in it. You get to fight spooky ghosts. You get dropped into warzones. You get random NPC enemies. There’s a lot going on! And a lot of these added bonuses got this game really going for me.

The first one I want to talk about is the big one. The B.T.’s got me all worked up for a fight but I wasn’t really up for these encounters the first few times. The B.T.s just make the game so much more dangerous. Now it’s not just your luggage you’re dealing with, but you’re probably going to destroy everything around you if you mess up big time. These bits are real tense, they start out like the MGS games. You can keep low and quiet and get around them or just run tf away. There’s not much you can do until you get your weapons and even once you’ve got them, you have to balance out fighting vs staying alive. The B.T.s don’t really do much harm to you, but if you get caught by them, that’s game over for round one and you’re getting dragged all the way out to nowhere for round two! The game wants you to know you done messed up.

Here’s the thing though, even if you mess round one up, you get a nifty boss fight to deal with in round two! And these bits are really fun to play. I actually found the boss fights pretty easy to get through and I’d rather get caught and tussle it out with the oil-slick bosses instead of gunking my way through a surprise oilfield made of ghosts or sneaking around the invisible spooky dookies who got summoned with the rain. When you fight the B.T. bosses, the whole battle area gets gunked up with tar but the little grabby ghosts are gone. All sorts of things that used to be in the area before the voidouts plop up to the surface and you start playing a whole new type of game. You’re climbing up buildings and hiding behind houses while trying to beat the big monster that’s shown up to try and nom on your allergen-rich butt.

Here’s where I’d say it’s a 10/10 from me for all of the B.T. bosses, but the last one is such a huge downer I’m going to sit the B.T. score at a 9. Apart from that one boss, I liked everything about the B.T.s. I’m chucking in the Higgs (Troy Baker) fight in here too and that fight was one of the best things in the game.

There are also these pirate-type Mad Max-style loons called the MULEs. Every time you run into them, the game’s basically like MGSV. Nice way of switching things up, but I didn’t think they were anything special. 6/10 for the pirate lunatics.

And then there’s the whole thing about warzones I mentioned. As much fun as I had with the B.T.s, the most fun I had was in the encounters with the Combat Veteran/Cliff Unger (Mads Mikkelsen). Near the beginning of the game, you get twistered up into a storm and bam! You’re in World War I. How? Who knows. You don’t get told until a little later in the game. And in World War I, there’s this guy who’s after your BB and you. His fights happen in rounds like the B.T. fights and each one of these rounds is fun. You get to play around with this dude and his spooky skellington soldiers with different tactics while all sorts of doodoo hits the fan everywhere around you. When you’re done getting through the fight, you’re back and everyone tells Sam that he was only gone for a handful-o seconds.

I’m not going to get into what this guy’s deal is, but his story was actually kinda sweet. And his boss fights were totally fun. After you’re done with World War I, you get chucked into World War II (with a friend), and then you’re in ‘Nam. I liked everything about his character. 10/10 for combat with the veterans.

So that’s basically everything I have to say about the things you get to do in the game. There are some other NPCs in the world and you have to learn a few different kinds of walking. You get to help people build new tech and get in touch with each other. But there’s something important I left out. And what I left out is context. I told you what you’re doing, now I’m going to tell you why you’re getting up to all this work.

See… ever since the Death Stranding which ‘banged’ and took out 90% of everything, the world’s gone right into the bucket. The game happens in America (which looks suspiciously like North Europe), and none of the characters know if other countries are even still around? After the voidout where Sam twigs that his blood can sizzle the spooky ghosts, Sam basically gets forced into a job.

His job is to go all the way from the East coast of the States to the West. He’s off to save his sister who just so happens to be chosen to become the next President of the United Cities of America. She’s been nabbed by a group of bad guys called the Homo Demens and it’s up to Sam to deliver her a fresh hot pizza so that she can start being a great President!
(jk, but I had to.)

So since there’s so much walking to do, Sam also gets to reconnect the chiral network (juiced up superfast internet with spooky timey-wimey powers) and deliver pizzas on his way. This is all cool and all but there’s so much space for padding out the playtime that the game just makes it a chore to get through during some points. I think that was kinda the point, though, since Kojima-san really wanted us to get ‘into’ this world. But I don’t think it worked out all that well. It’s not like the whole game is a chore, but some parts of it feel just a little bit tiring. I really wanted to get to the end as fast as I could (and it took me a LONG time to get there) but nope! Sam has pizzas to deliver!

That’s all still fine. It doesn’t make the game bad at all. Most games have a bit of padding here and there <cough>MGSV</cough>. And there were a few surprises tossed in to the game which made a few of these random deliveries really worth it. This game doesn’t just have an awesome main cast. This game has so many cameos and easter eggs in it that Hollywood’s got to be feeling a little sting (my favourite out of the lot of them was the random Itō Junji cameo in case you wanted to know).

And talking about the cast… Norman Reedus is a bit of a deadbeat when the game starts. I mean… up until I first got him to look in the mirror he was a really dull dude. But the longer the game went on I started really getting to like him. Maybe it was the whole connection with BB or maybe it was just getting used to ‘being’ him that did it. Whenever Sam’s alone you get to see a few quirky mini-scenes (DON’T try to peek at his junk) and those help a little, but the guy takes a while to grow on you.

Deadman (modelled by Guillermo del Toro and voiced by Jesse Corti) is flat adorable and he was one of my favourite characters. Totally loved him. Hated Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins) but he kinda had the best redemption arc I’ve seen in a while. I’m not getting into the whole Amelie (Lindsay Wagner/Emily O’Brien) and Bridget (Lindsay Wagner/Emily O’Brien) and Princess Beach (Lindsay Wagner/Emily O’Brien) thing right now but I’m going to tell you that I’m not sure if I like these three or hate them or just think they were really meh. Heck. I still don’t know if I’m sure what they were trying to do half the time.

Troy Baker’s in this too! And he gets to finally have that MGS4 style punch up (y’know… since he voiced Ocelot in V). He was pretty good but I kinda wanted to see a little bit of what he was like before he became this super pervy weirdo creep with B.T. powers.

I think I can guess why he showed up during the first voidout scene but I don’t know if my idea’s going to be right. Heartman (Nicholas Winding Refn)’s pretty cool, too, and I liked his story. But my favourite characters in this whole thing apart from BB and Cliff (who I guess I’ve already said I liked) are Fragile (Léa Seydoux), the chick Sam nearly ran over in the intro and Mama and Lockne (Margaret Qualley).

Fragile’s story is just so sad that it’s hard not to like her. She’s amazing. It’s been a while since Kojima had such a badass chick in a game and I loved every scene with her in it. And just to really make her more amazing… she can teleport around to places where people aren’t even supposed to teleport to. Yeah yeah, she gets some dumb lines but she’s just the best. The whole Mama and Lockne situation… I’m still scratching my head over that one, but I loved their story too. What exactly happened after the story was all spelt out is a bit weird and unexplained but I’ll allow it. Now I’m not bringing the cutie-pie BB up a lot, but BB28 got a good story as well. Don’t worry about the tot.

The story is exactly what you’d expect if Kojima, Itō, del Toro and Refn sat down together and start throwing ideas at a window. It’s weird and really really really big for its boots. And it… works. Best I can do is guess it works cause there’s just so much to get through in it. I still have a few questions but here’s the thing, Death Stranding isn’t really a puzzle. It tells you what it is and goes and does its thing. It’s because it mashes so many ideas together that it comes off being like this big confusing mess when you start spelling it out. You get the usual cringy lines and there’s this scene on a beach which I would have talked about but I don’t think you’d be able to keep up with the amount of insanity I’d have to muster up to explain it. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen Kojima put in a game and the dude’s had things like rollerblading bomb-maniacs and a parasite-infested hot chick who has to be dressed like a cheap stripper because she “breathes through her skin” (Stef deserved better). It’s the cringiest thing I’ve ever seen now that I think about it as a thing that happens in one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. When ‘Mario’ met ‘Princess Beach’ and they decided to ‘run around’ the world, I’m pretty sure my “eff” off woke up the whole street. Why Kojima-san?! Y U DO DIS?!

And before I forget… one of the delivery missions you’re given actually unlocks a pretty cute miniplot which I really liked. I don’t know if its the only one in the game, but it might be. If there aren’t more that I just missed, that’s a little bit of a downer.

Oh. What was that? How does the game look and sound? It’s a Hideo Kojima game you lot. It’s the best looking game out there and the sound is 100% gobsmacking. I liked every song in the game and how they showed up when they did. There’s so much effort put into this game that it gets an A just for showing up if I was handing out grades. 10/10. The design everywhere is top top stuff.

There are all these little things to do and so many ways of enjoying your time on your walks around the pretty landscapes. There’s so much to take in and there’s so much to do. Even though I said it got a little boring here and there there’s still a lot to do.

Now… while Death Stranding might sound like a single player (SP) game from all that, it sort of isn’t. The multiplayer (MP) side of things are like what Journey had. It’s all about co-op without actually being there person to person all the time. You can trade cargo, leave climbing equipment, build and repair things and even show up as a friendly ghost to toss players weapons and other items to help them during boss fights. The more you help the people who’re helping you speeds up the whole gameplay experience. And that’s important, because this game is… looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong.

While trading cargo and repairing things might seem like all you have to do to show your appreciation to all the other Sams walking around the U.C.A., the best thing you can do to repay people who’ve done you a solid (lol!) is sMaSH tHat LiKe bUtTOn (not joking). The like button is such a big deal in the game that it’s even a part of the story cutscenes. That’s lol-able enough for me to add a few likes to it.

And hoo-boy! That was a lot wasn’t it?! I don’t think it’s a big secret that I loved this game. There’s so much to talk about and so much to love about this game. I don’t think I spoiled anything major about the game, but that’s going to happen soon on this blog anyway.

I wish I’d followed the theories and speculation surrounding this game before its release since I don’t think anyone got much right. One guy on Reddit did suss out Amelie being connected to a twist and got downvoted for it. I just didn’t want to be spoiled for this game until I got to play it. And was it worth the wait! Hands-down feathers-up this is the game of the year. And cause there’s so much video in the game, it’s probably one of the best films of the year, too!

I’m giving it all the recommendations I can but I can’t guarantee that the game’s going to please everyone. It’s a work of art and I’m really happy I didn’t miss it. I hope no one ever thinks this needs a sequel and I’m excited for whatever Kojima-san comes up with next.

Right! I’m off to plan your mass extinction. Love you lot loads. See you for the next bang.

— Extinction Entity up! Up! And Awayyy! *BONK!*


ꜰɪɴᴀʟ ʀᴀᴛɪɴɢs

ᴛʜᴇ̡̧̻̝̗̭̮̠̝̤ ͈̦̗̞̩͎ᴇ̭̼̞͜͜͜x̨̨̨̤̩̠ᴛɪɴᴄᴛ̨͇̜̪̤͔ɪᴏɴ ᴇɴᴛɪ̘̺͔͈̗ͅᴛʏ̘̝͉̻͕͎: 9.5/10


Oh, oh, and before I leave you lot to your inevitable demise! We’ve got a few posts still lined up.
Here’s the whole lot:

ᴇᴘɪsᴏᴅᴇs (ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛs)

Stay tuned for the next episode!


Here’s another one of the official posters:

1 thought on “Analysis / Review: Death Stranding [2019]; Part Three: Playing Through Extinction”

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