The wait is almost over. Tomorrow, the highly anticipated Death Stranding will finally be in our hands. It’s been a long wait, one made more stressful since the review embargo broke on November 1st. Critics are all over the place with Kojima’s latest title—some believe it to be an artistic masterpiece, while others disparage it as nothing more than a high-quality walking simulator.
You can decide for yourself soon enough, but until then here is a brief round-up of the (surprisingly inconsistent) reviews.
A True Masterpiece
ScreenRant is one of the many outlets that gave the title outstanding marks. Reviewer Cody Gravelle states that, “Death Stranding delivers on its impossible promise in a breathtaking way.” They go on to say that the story is not one to experience while distracted—there are so many moving pieces that you really need to pay attention in order to get the most out of the game. Here is a great quote from the review:
What Death Stranding is, though, is a game that pushes the medium forward. So much of Death Stranding is memorable, from its characters to its gameplay sections to its stellar soundtrack. It genre-hops in the same way that NieR: Automata did so successfully a few years ago. While navigating between stealth, adventure, survival, and gunfighting elements, Kojima’s latest title balances them all into something that feels new. The game is incredibly ambitious, and it is unapologetic about the design elements it feels are integral to telling its story.
ScreenRant gave the game a perfect score. EGM agrees with that analysis, with the reviewer saying that “…I can tell you with all sincerity that Death Stranding is…a video game unlike any other that I can remember.”
They go on to say that, sure, there is a lot of walking, but Kojima Productions has found a way to keep this usually boring task engaging by offering deep layers of complexity. The traversal rating of the surface Sam is walking on, the speed at which he moves, and the burden he is carrying all play a role on his ability to explore his surroundings.
Others found the walking to be downright boring. IGN absolutely tears into the game with this quote:
If Death Stranding sounds like a series of glorified fetch quests, its because that’s exactly what it is.
Reviewer Tristan Ogilvie goes on to say that the story setup is interesting, but playing the role of a courier doesn’t make the gameplay any fun. He goes on to say that engaging and interacting with the world is often an issue—since you move so slowly, trying to explore every inch of the map is incredibly time consuming and tedious. Here’s another great quote:
Taking Sam for a short walk up a slight hill feels more like trying to push a wheelbarrow full of bricks up a flight of stairs.
Obviously, different reviewers see the “walking mechanics” in a different light. In an age where games allow us to scale buildings, hang glide off mountains, and drive cars up the side of skyscrapers, it’s no wonder many reviewers found the travel speed to be on the slow side. Of course, that doesn’t mean it really isn’t boring. There’s a fine line between being methodical and being clumsy. Where that line is depends on who you talk to. In the end, IGN settled on a score of 6.8 out of 10.
Just A Trainwreck
Here’s how the GiantBomb review by Alex Navarro begins:
Kojima’s first post-Konami project is a bizarre, self-indulgent mess that never quite manages to tie its myriad pieces together.
And it’s all downhill from there.
It is a game about exploration in which there isn’t that much to discover.
Not enough? Here, have some more.
Ultimately, Death Stranding is a game that is unlike much else I’ve played before, and I’m not entirely sure if I want to play anything like it ever again.
Like Tristan at IGN, Alex says that just getting around in Death Stranding is an absolute chore at the being of the game. Environments are cursed with heavy rainfall, causing the ground to become slick. This in turn makes the players job of walking a nightmare. Eventually, players unlock new modes of transportation (l’m leaving out the details as to avoid spoilers), but Alex says this isn’t much better.
Beyond the walking mechanics, GiantBomb finds issues with the pacing of the game and states that the action and stealth sequences are too bland to be enjoyable. In the end, Death Stranding is awarded a score of 2 out of 5. The review ends with this:
At least now we know what the hell Death Stranding is: a disappoint.
Whether or not that is true looks like it will largely depend on who you ask. Avid fans of Kojima will likely flock to the game and sing its praises. Others might find the game boring and overdone. No matter what you think, there is one thing we can agree on—it’s been a wild ride.