So I’ve started playing Death Stranding and even though I knew that it was supposed to be kind of odd, I’m not sure I was TRULY prepared for how unadulterated Kojima this game was going to be. I’m about two hours in and the game is about reconnecting America, one city and waystation at a time as you control a gruff deliveryman named Sam. Sam is played by Norman Reedus.
Yar, thar be spoilers ahead.
I am not an anti-cut scene person by any stretch of the imagination, but the first HOUR of the game needs more than 7 minutes of gameplay. There was about 50ish minutes of cutscene! In the first hour! And it wasn’t really important information, this is almost entirely pre Lore dump. We get a lot of scenes where we have no clue what is happening. In fact what is happening is so far removed from any particular context that we can’t even GUESS. There’s invisible monsters, and the rain is, acidic or something? Sure, eventually you find out that the rain is actually called timefall and it speeds up the aging process of anything it touches.
The big turning point in the opening hour is when you are asked to deliver a dead body to an incinerator, but the body has been dead for too long and they need to hurry because something might happen. When Sam and the party are attacked by those invisible monsters again, the car gets overturned and it becomes too late. Everyone dies in an explosion, including Sam. Who comes back to life because he’s a Repatriate, which… I’m still not sure what that is other than a gamified way to explain Sam’s deaths within the context of the story. (Similar to the way in Dark Souls you can die because you are an undead.)
Gameplay initially was meted out like a precious resource in the early game but starts to happen more often once you take your mother’s dead body to the incinerator. Sorry, I skipped a few things there. Sam’s mother is the president of what’s left of the United States and she has dedicated her life to reconnecting America but Sam hasn’t seen her in 10 years. She’s dying and Sam and her get to see each other in a very awkward meeting one more time before she passes.
I also got to meet Deadman (which is a nickname) and Die-Hardman (which from what I gather is NOT a nickname). Deadman is played by Guillermo Del Toro and Die-Hardmen wears a skull mask on his face. Why does he wear a skull mask on his face? I don’t know. But I’m going to channel this Grant Morrison quote for the rest of my playthrough because I began to get caught up in the Kojima-ness of it all:
Grant Morrison, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
“Adults…struggle desperately with fiction, demanding constantly that it conform to the rules of everyday life. Adults foolishly demand to know how Superman can possibly fly, or how Batman can possibly run a multibillion-dollar business empire during the day and fight crime at night, when the answer is obvious even to the smallest child: because it’s not real.”
Anyway. Those are my thoughts for now. Despite all this, it’s kinda growing on me. I’m sure my feelings on that will shift as I continue to play.