Death Stranding – Unique and Amazing!
Hideo Kojima must be recognized as one of the most iconic and popular developers in the gaming industry today. Although not all of the games that he makes are perfect, especially because his approach to the story side with so many cinematic cut-scenes that make some gamers end up giving up, but his creative ideas and approaches are always worth celebrating. Some come as gimmicks, but not a few are implemented sweetly into gameplay that ends differently than most games. No wonder for gamers who had known their products in the past, Hideo Kojima’s games were highly anticipated. Why? Because obviously, we never know what kind of experience we will get. Something that can end badly, something that can end up charming, something that we will never know where it will lead before we try it.
After leaving Konami, Hideo Kojima’s efforts to build his own indie studio – Kojima Productions is indeed sweet fruit. In just a few years time, together with the support of several developers who stood under the giant banner of Sony, he succeeded in introducing, building, and ready to release his newest game – Death Stranding to the market. A short amount of time considering that in an old project, it usually takes a long time. Together with the implementation of an idea that has been in his mind for a long time, Kojima also managed to invite several Hollywood talents to join in this ambitious game.
You are facing the United States who are trying to survive after a mysterious and destructive phenomenon called “Death Stranding” suddenly surfaces. Mysterious entity called “Beached Things (BT)” suddenly appeared for no reason. Threats do not just come from their invasion of living things, but also the “Voidout” effect that they can produce if they succeed in locking and swallowing the bodies. Voidout itself is a super massive explosion that can even flatten a metropolitan city instantly without difficulty. Death Stranding managed to make the United States a mess, which is now even filled with gaping holes due to voidout.
In the midst of conditions without explanation like this, it becomes an instinctive thing for humans to start looking for ways to survive. The most rational way? Build a residential infrastructure that is tightly locked from the outside world, minimizing threats that might occur. In a world where humans are afraid to “get out of the house”, the key to survival is now only left with Porter – those who are still brave enough to explore the hard and dangerous world of post-Death Stranding, to send or take whatever packages their customers need. A profession with lives at stake.
You play the role of a Porter named Sam Brigdes who stands under an expedition company called Bridges. Sam, who actively continues to explore the United States, which has now been renamed the United Cities of America (UCA), turned out not to be an arbitrary figure. Together with Amelie, Sam is a family member of President Bridget who is currently in critical condition because of his cancer. Bridget asked Sam, in the process of his work as a Porter, also begin to reconnect the United States through a technology called Chiral Network. Bridget believes that this is essential to maintain a sense of human survival in the midst of the threat of BT and Death Stranding.
But before that, Sam also had to take back Amelie, who had been abducted by separatist members who wanted UCA to remain divided – Homo Demens, headed by a mysterious masked golden figure named Higgs. Amelie himself was taken prisoner on the west bank of UCA, which incidentally was on the opposite side of Sam. Although he had refused at the beginning, but the close relations of brotherhood that Amelie and Sam had made him inevitably had to accept this one task and responsibility.
To help his journey, Sam uses a technology called Bridge Baby (BB) in the form of a baby in a pod. The “BB” is a human engineering technology, whose existence is taken from mothers who end up suspended animation after giving birth, making these cute babies have a strong connection between the world of the living and the world of the dead. This connection with the world of the dead makes BB essential to knowing and recognizing the position of the BT. Which was then translated into a tool like a hand on Sam’s shoulder named Odradek. Through Odradek’s movements and twinkling, Sam was able to recognize the BT threat that was for him, invisible.
So, can Sam reconnect the United Cities of America? Can he save Amelie from the hands of Higgs? What kind of threats does he have to face? Will he be able to open the veil of mystery about Death Stranding and the BTs? What was the visualization of the beach that he often saw in his dreams? All the answers to these mysteries can of course be obtained by playing Death Stranding.
Power of the Decima Engine
As a game that will be filled more with goods delivery systems that will make you “fight” with the natural terrain that you have to go through (we’ll talk about later), building a visually charming world will naturally become an essential part of Death Stranding. A concept that must be recognized, they are sweetly executed. Comes with eye-catching views along the way, from super high mountains, just steep cliffs, thick snow, scorching sun, swift rivers, to enormous waterfalls that come with super creepy kinetic energy, make your trip more tolerable. Moreover, Death Stranding also managed to make each of them not just a sight, but a challenge that at one point, you have to go through.
You can see the same quality of visual pampering via the character model he carries, especially the characters who have a big part in the story. Decima Engine’s ability to photograph the faces of Mads Mikkelsen, Del Toro, to Norman Reedus with such accuracy, is only the surface of what they have achieved. Unlike the Fox Engine in the previous Metal Gear series which is equally charming in terms of character models, the Decima Engine seems to be better able to project emotions properly through the accuracy of the charming facial expressions. Through the slow movement of the eyes, lips, until just facial wrinkles that appear, you can see and feel clearly what emotions emerge in each scene that appears. Something that deserves a thumbs up.
But unfortunately, this facial expression is only reflected clearly through the iconic characters in the story alone. While other cameos such as Conan O’Brien, Edgar Wright, to Sam Lake, all of them appear as settlement “residents” who will only welcome you via the hologram only. The accuracy of realistic character models is still consistent, but it must be admitted, it does not seem to maximize the potential of the Decima Engine itself. Although it must be acknowledged, decisions like this are indeed in line with the world of Death Stranding which portrays the fears of these humans to get out of their safe and comfortable zones. Other consequences? You will not meet with many NPCs along the way, even when you “stop” in some locations that get the nickname of the city though. What is presented to you is only the character hologram that is responsible there as well as data on the number of inhabitants who inhabit it, that’s all.
Praise, of course, deserves to be directed back to the figure of Yoji Shinkawa, who for the umpteenth time, succeeded in concocting characters with designs that not only match the world he offers but are also cool at the same time. There are characteristics of a fascinating mechanical device there, from just an exoskeleton that Sam can use to carry out his duties as a Porter to the design and workings of Odradek who are like living things but mechanical at the same time. The design of supporting character costumes from Fragile in tight black clothing to the Higgs with a gold mask that also has an Odradek design that carries a unique color also reinforces that impression. All of them are combined with the mysterious element of BT monsters that feels and looks organic at the same time.
Because it must be admitted, the design carried by BT seems to be a “rationalization” why the world of Death Stranding moves and runs as it should. We are not just talking about shadows that float with long ropes like umbilical cord that either ends where, but also the monster that appears to “execute” you if you end up being caught. Present in a variety of forms that impressly strongly that they do not share the same world with us, it also changes the world around it. Thick black mud suddenly appeared in the form of a giant pool, destroyed buildings suddenly re-emerged, until the laws of physics such as gravity no longer apply at some point. In front of you is a creature that seems to want to simulate the motion of the earth animals but behaves the opposite. Cool again? All of them seem to be governed by a massive sized entity that seems to be the accumulation of all sides of the mystery that you face.
While in terms of music, you no longer need to doubt what kind of experience you get here. Since the initial teaser introduction to Death Stranding, Kojima seems to have made sure he will wrap up these games with cool music that never seems familiar to you if he never introduces them to the public. Music from Low Roar and Silent Poets dominates Kojima’s song choices in Death Stranding. But it doesn’t just appear as music that you can enjoy in a Private Room, it also integrates it into gameplay to make some moments feel more dramatic.
The question now, is this strategy successful? We have to say yes and not at the same time. Yes, because our emotions were moved in the first two moments of this music, especially when Silent Poets floated when you arrived at the destination that from the beginning, it felt so far and impossible. No? Because its use feels excessive. Kojima injects a few moments after that by trying to use the same moment, where a song plays when you enter a certain area, all of which are dominated by songs from Low Roar. There are two problems here: first, because this format is used too often, it loses impact that should be independent of the quality of the song that is still fun to listen to. Second? It starts to feel like an “order” that you have to feel something when the song is playing. And when you don’t feel anything? This song is a “burden” as if you did not enjoy Death Stranding as it should.
So in terms of presentation, Death Stranding on Playstation 4 Pro seems to be one of the gaming experiences with eye-visual visualization that we have tasted, especially talking about how to handle the design of the world that you have to go through. To the extent, we will not hesitate to recommend you to start looking at a 4K HDR television to enjoy it optimally. In the end, Death Stranding feels like a game with a special world. On the one hand mysterious, on the other beautiful. Two fantastic combinations.
Still an Action Game
One of the problems that you have to face, of course, is the BTs. Considering Sam is unable to see them in plain sight, there will be several indicators carried by Death Stranding to ensure you understand and recognize this threat instantly. First, the nature of Odradek which will “go crazy” with a slight zoom-in effect of the camera to indicate that he has just detected something strange. Odradek will automatically blink and direct yourself to the nearest BTs in your area to help you avoid them. Second? Of course Timefall. Most of the BTs attendance was also marked by the swift Timefall coming down. The good news? Instead of appearing randomly in all locations, Timefall containing BTs usually only occurs at a few specific points.
When you first meet with BTs, there is nothing you can do but avoid them. So like a stealth game, relying on Odradek’s automatic movements, you can detect the closest position of BTs and try to avoid them. You can see the shadow of their shadows if you are silent and not moving, helping you capture the visual position of these BTs much better. Since these BTs are sensitive to two things – sound and breath, then while walking settles, you can also ask Sam to hold his breath. This process will make it difficult for you to detect BTs, but will take up stamina quickly. With this combination of motion, avoiding BTs is not a difficult job as long as you are introspective.
But along with the progress of the story, especially when blood and all kinds of liquid that comes out of Sam’s body turned out to be effective to eliminate the BTs, you will begin to be strengthened with weapons that are able to finish these monsters quickly. This weapon is of course not only effective against humanoid creatures that are just floating, but BTs monsters actually named Catcher will only show themselves if you end up “swallowed”. Fighting these big monsters does require extra preparation, especially preparing heavier weapons to erode their long HP bars. Sam will be armed with many weapons that not only demand bullets or grenades, but also Sam’s blood / cell phone either directly or that he has stored via the blood bag he is carrying. Making sure the combination of weapons and blood bags is always available is the solution to many problems against BTs.
Failing and losing, of course you will be faced with certain consequences. Ending dead at the hands of these giant BTs monsters will kill Sam fortunately – through his special ability “Repatriate” which is also supported by the ability of BB (Bridge Baby), will make him able to live again. You will be taken to the middle of the world of life and death named Seam, who appears like a deep ocean, where you have to look for your body again here. The consequences? Your death will result in Voidout, a massive explosion that leaves a permanent giant hole that gaping. Voidout will not only make your trip more difficult because you automatically have to circle it if it is in the middle of the location you want to go to, but it also becomes a symbol where your “Revive” ability is no longer valid. If you are caught by a Catcher and end up losing in an area that has already experienced a voidout, you will be killed permanently and meet the humiliating Game Over screen. On the reverse side? If you defeat the Catchers, the weather will be clear and the Timefall around the area will disappear for some time. A reward other than a resource called Chiralrium that is worth pursuing.
So the battle against the BTs in the midst of the complexity of the cargo management system adds an extra layer of consideration that you have to plan carefully. Why? Because in addition to the cargo demands of the mission, after you have provided space for the equipment you want to carry to help your journey, you now also have to consider how many weapons you have to carry. As can be predicted, every weapon you carry will take up the maximum amount of cargo that you can transport, either from just a heap limit or weight. The good news? As the story progresses, when you can open more and more items and equipment, slowly but surely this problem of transporting weapons will no longer be a problem. It will have its own location, which you can also tinker with later.
The need to survive from BTs is also related to another gameplay mechanic – BB. BB is Sam’s primary key to detecting the presence of BTs. So as can be predicted, by using a separate bar to describe the current mood, you must still make sure the BB remains comfortable and happy during the delivery process that you do. Why? Because if this bar is empty and the BB ends stress, then your ability to detect BTs will disappear immediately and the threat of this mysterious monster will be immediately amplified. It is almost impossible to subdue something that you cannot see. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make BB happy again. With a little swing using a DualShock 4 motion sensor or harmonica game while resting, or just doing an adrenaline-driven action such as driving a super fast vehicle for example, will make the mood return. But remember, BB mood will usually be consistently reduced if you fight against Catcher, making a time-consuming battle will make the risk even higher. The only way to restore the BB’s empty mood is to rest in the Private Room.
For good news or bad news, in the vast world of Death Stranding, BTs is apparently not the only threat that you will encounter. There are other groups such as Homo Demens – the Higgs terrorist group who will have their own special camp and are ready to “hunt” you if you end up approaching them and being detected. Unlike BTs who behave like animals, Homo Demens certainly uses weapons such as grenades and Assault Rifles. Other groups that you might meet, with their distinctive yellow clothes, are called MULEs which consist of Porters who like to collect cargo but lose direction and aim as a Porter should. Also has his own camp, MULEs will chase you if he detects you have delivery cargo. They are armed with melee weapons as the main identity.
There are many ways to “cleanse” these human enemies, of course. If you want to play safer, the option to stealth is always open. Hiding in a tall bush to avoid detection, you can also use a rope equipment called “Strand” to tie them from behind. For those of you who play more openly, you can attack them with a combination of punches and kicks several times until they pass out. Or safer path? Of course using a firearm that you can racik via Chiral Printer.
Death Stranding itself divides it into two broad categories – Lethal and Non-Lethal Weapon, which, as the name suggests, end up being just firearms that make your target lay unconscious or who actually put an end to their lives. The ultimate goal is the same, but the consequences themselves are different. Following the lore of the world he was carrying, we ourselves do not recommend you to use lethal firearms. Why? Because as we talked about before, BTs are interested in swallowing corpses scattered about and producing Voidout from them. You will also reap the consequences if you end up killing these human enemies with live ammunition. This will be a source of problems that you should avoid.
One other thing that you should look at is the fact that almost everything we talked about above is not something that you will encounter from the beginning of the game. The number of open items, including weapons, will follow the progress of the story that you have passed. Therefore, it may be that some initial missions that seem so difficult and annoying end up being easy once you get more equipment and weapons in the next progress. The structure of the world and the gameplay of Death Stranding are rooted in concepts like this.
We will without doubt recommend Death Stranding to you, regardless of whatever your genre preferences or whether you love Kojima products or not in the past. You might end up not enjoying all the process of delivering the cargo he was carrying, especially if you come with certain expectations, but it’s hard to deny that this game will offer something new, different, and unique until we are sure you have never met and tasted the game like this before.
With all the combination of elements and innovations that he injected, Death Stranding is a game that is amazing, we’ve never tried before. The experience he offers is so unique that even those of you who have eaten the salt of the video game for decades will end up amazed that at one point, in 2019, there is a video game that looks different from the others. We’re not only talking about the gameplay structure that combines elements at risk of Fetch Quest, innovations that make it interesting, and action gameplay that follows it, but also how it offers a story whose complexity feels confusing and satisfying at the same time, something that has never been presented. by any video game. Among all these concepts, the traces of a Hideo Kojima indeed flowed clearly, making Death Stranding move between the thin boundary between crazy and genius. But if we have to choose, we seem to be more inclined towards “genius” to define the range of breakthroughs that he is carrying.
But unfortunately, Death Stranding is not a perfect game. Apart from the execution of the presence of music to create a dramatic moment that is actually counter-productive because of its frequency of use, it also contains two major problems in our eyes. First, Sam as a character. Apart from the face of Norman Reedus which is used as a base, Sam must be admitted to lead to an unattractive character. There is a lot of potential that can actually be “played” to make it a more emotional or relatable character, but it just passes by. The result? You meet a character who feels flat and bland, something that is contrary to other supporting characters who are actually more able to trigger reactions and emotions. Second weakness? Using a short cut-scene for Sam’s activities at the start looks cool, but starts to get annoying at the end. Almost all activities start with a short cut-scene, from just taking a shower, leaving the Private Room, to when you hand over the cargo. We never use the “skip cut-scene” button as much as we do it in Death Stranding.
But beyond these shortcomings, we will without doubt recommend Death Stranding to you, regardless of whatever your genre preferences or whether you love Kojima products or not in the past. You might end up not enjoying all the process of delivering the cargo he was carrying, especially if you come with certain expectations, but it’s hard to deny that this game will offer something new, different, and unique until we are sure you have never met and tasted the game like this before. An experience that will be more optimal if you successfully avoid spoilers from the side of the story until you finish this game yourself. What an amazing experience!