So What Is Death Stranding, And Does It Deserve The Media Hype? A Quick Look At Kojima’s Latest Title

So What Is Death Stranding, And Does It Deserve The Media Hype? A Quick Look At Kojima’s Latest Title
Credit: Kojima via YouTube

Death Stranding is finally out. Hideo Kojima’s latest game is atmospheric, sparse and full of downright nutty cutscenes. Whether it be the eerie Beach, creepy BTs (and their splashy handprints) or traversing beautiful landscapes, there is something about Death Stranding that feels more cinematic than a video game, more an experience than an action-packed Sony exclusive.

Hideo Kojima’s latest game received a lot of press in the media. There were dozens of teaser trailers, cryptic Tweets and a cinematic 8-minute long launch trailer. Despite all of this, one question on everyone’s mind since the game’s announcement is simply: What Is Death Stranding?

After the first couple of hours of gameplay – and there’ll no major spoilers here – it is easier to tell what Death Stranding is, even if the storyline itself still seems complex and unwieldy. Death Stranding is a video game experience. Even in the first hour, you’ll spend 15-20 minutes walking across a mostly empty landscape. There is music, and your cargo might be totally bizarre, but you are still basically going on a virtual hike for 20 minutes.

Much of the dialogue is expositionary, and definitely, at the start of the game, it’s more about enjoying the insane graphics and ‘very cool’ cutscenes than trying to understand what on earth is going on. If you can look past some of the character’s strange names (I’m looking at you, Die-Hardman) and references to BBs, Rainbows and Timefall, there is a lot to appreciate in Death Stranding.

The game is more unsettling than expected. There are genuinely creepy moments, verging on psychological horror rather than heart-popping jumpscare. In fact, the entire atmosphere feels creepy, not helped by Norman Reedus’ almost consistently confused/horrified facial expression and reluctance to do just about anything.

Despite its successes as a video game, it is clear that Death Stranding is aiming for something beyond its medium. Kojima already recently announced that he hopes his studio can one day produce and create movies and this is obvious in the game’s grand setpieces and an all-star cast.

Currently, the game is only playable on the PS4, although there are hopes of a PC version arriving sometime next year. I’d recommend holding out to play the game for yourself rather than watching a YouTube playthrough and try to avoid the spoilers which inevitably happen as people figure out what Death Stranding is all about.