I'm Stuck: Death Stranding

Hi hi, a new post today! And more gaming stuff since the anime side has been rather quiet lately.

I chose to write this one this late because:
1. I want to complete the game first so I can give a full in-depth review.
2. I’m not some relevant gaming journalist that can get the game like a full month early.

I took about a month to finish the game, I think its a bit slow, due to other commitments and also the tedious nature of the game can be rather time consuming, which I will mention later. This game is currently only available for the PS4, PC release is 2020. I played this one with the PS4 Pro, as usual.

Without further ado, let’s get this post done.

Story

A post-apocalyptic mainland America with states abolished in favour of disconnected cities due to the Death Stranding. People who die becomes Beached Things (BT) and the afterlife is also called “Beach”

This is a pretty confusing concept to really explain in words. You really need to play the game to understand fully.

The whole game is split into 15episodes (episode 14 is the actually final episode as EP15 is just a post-game thing when you complete the game and is able to freely move across America.)

The narrative is pretty loosely connected, but there is continuity. And the whole “FedEx simulator” concept is pretty much right, except the fact that vehicular movement is on-and-off, as certain places are inaccessible by vehicles and have to walk in.

This game does have a certain level of horror but it’s not as extreme as Silent Hill. Hideo is trying to make a game of a whole new genre which is pretty much playable for everyone.

The game introduction does lack a bit of context, but slowly as the game progresses, flashbacks happen in forms of cutscenes so context is pretty much covered along the way. The cutscenes are also the main drivers of the story, while gameplay is pretty much traveling from one place to another.

Story pacing is pretty slow, or actually dependent on player’s speed. If you play at a pretty chill rate, the pacing slows down. If you speedrun, naturally the game will feel short. I think the game length is just right, I initially feared that the game will take a while to complete, especially with how bad I am with games.

The whole game is a slow build-up to the climax which I say, probably the best plot twist and execution I ever had in games. The climax really blew me away and the plot twists that keep on coming after the climax constantly never disappoint.

The ending was a bit of a letdown for me as it left a lot of questions unanswered. I guess an open ending can pave a way to a sequel, or maybe I was asking too much. But with the amount of epic the production has been, I was expecting a pretty epic ending. 15 (or actually 14) episodes felt pretty good. Some episodes are long, some are extremely short, so it does make me feel kind of confused. I got lost along the way due to the inconsistent episode length.

Overall, I wouldn’t exactly say this is my most favourite game in this PS4 generation, as the whole new taste in this game does make me feel rather perplexed. But one thing I could say is that Hideo’s games never disappoints. This is a game that not anyone can just jump right into and expect something big. It’s a slow building game with rewards coming as time progresses.

It is a pretty polarizing game. You either love it or hate it, but oddly, I’m on the fence with this one. I love the game for the fresh concept, but hate the game for the tedious nature, which I will explain later.

Graphics and physics

The game utilizes Guerilla Games’s Decima Engine, which also powered Killzone and Horizon Zero Dawn. And I have to say, KojimaPro really did push the engine to new heights with this game. This has to be one of the most beautiful games I have ever played in this generation. And this game really showcased PS4 Pro’s untapped potential despite the rather “mediocre” specs in 2019.

This game runs checkerboard 4K on the Pro at 30 fps, but I played it in 1080p instead, for quite a few reasons.

My PS4 Pro still choke at certain scenes, despite like 6 patches of “performance improvements.” And also I only have 1080p screen. And also supersampling might still decreases performance. Despite the little issues, the game still looks pretty stunning at 1080p.

This game also utilizes Havok physics engine, BUT, that’s my biggest gripe of the game.

The good thing of this game is that flipping a car is literally impossible, but with that the side effect is that the game is nearly unplayable in vehicles.

Falling off a bike after a bumping a small rock or sometimes invisible rock. The truck can also get stuck at some weird spots. And also despite the 4 wheel drive nature of the truck, the truck can still sometimes get stuck at an incline.

Sometimes even walking can be wonky too, tripping over small rocks, tripping over random bumps, it can get irritating.

One of the most important thing to praise is the motion capture and facial capture. I have praised Quantic Dream for how amazing Detroit: Become Human looks, but this one is at a totally different level in terms of dedication and accuracy.

Facial expression is extremely hard to nail but this game nailed it. Detroit has this weird flaw that characters look like they had a stroke when they speak as they have crooked mouths. This game’s lip sync is on-point. The character movements are also realistic. I cannot think of a game with such convincing movements and animations.

The characters face is so accurate down to their facial scars and pores. Everything just looks so damn accurate. I have to love Margaret Qualley character looks. The trailers doesn’t do much justice to the game, you really have to play the game to experience everything about the facial capture and motion capture.

The cinematography is also top-notched every cutscene feels like a movie, actually it made the whole game looks like a month long movie. The cutscenes really felt really darn good. The thing about this game is that the transition from cutscene to gameplay is so seamless, because the cutscenes and gameplay graphic quality is just so consistent, which is something every hard to pull off, especially on consoles. Games usually crank up the graphic quality up during cutscenes and then tone down everything during gameplay to stabilize game performance.

I really like the consistency. This is something that sometimes PC doesn’t even do.

Despite the flaws, I think this game looks extremely polished. Does need some ironing out of certain things, but the game is still pretty darn solid.

Mechanics and Gameplay

The mechanics is also another selling point.

The game mechanics is definitely like “no using the phone while driving” logic. You have to pay 100% attention as this game’s walking isn’t just simply walking. The game features centre of gravity stuff which constantly needs you to press the L2 or R2 to balance yourself from slopes or rocky hills.

The combat mechanics felt fresh. You either shoot, throw bullets or even sometimes pee at your enemies as your blood has the abilty to defeat the BTs.

The easter eggs you can do while inside the private room is also pretty entertaining and also very peculiar. I can take sometimes about 30mins just constantly playing with “myself” in the private room.

Vehicles are supposed to help with the deliveries but they tend to actually make my deliveries harder than usual. It is still faster than going on foot, but sometimes I think going on foot is a much more pleasant experience.

About the multiplayer aspect of the game, it is an indirect multiplayer. How that works is that you won’t meet any other players in the game, but everyone can contribute in the game to make everyone’s gaming experience a lot better. Like building roads, building bridges, basically any structures you built doesn’t just help you, it helps everyone who plays the game. When a player uses your structure you built, people can give a “like” to tell you that the structure you built helped them out.

The “like” mechanic was kind of pointless at first, but as the game moves on, it does become a boast factor. The more likes you get, the more popular you become.

The mechanics feels fresh, but the physics weirdness makes the game feel a bit wonky. I don’t think they will fix that, it would need a major rewrite on the physics code, which they don’t have the time for as PC release is imminent.

Score: 8/10

It’s a hard game to recommend to any Tom, Dick or Harry. You really need to be a major fan of Hideo to enjoy the game. I’m just lucky that I find the game fun, I’m more of a fan of Hideo but not THAT big of a fan.

Despite the wonky physics nature, the game is still pretty enjoyable in its own way. Kojima Hideo really nailed it, he really can make new genre games.

That’s all for this week. I do have more posts planned on the gaming side of things, so I think I will convert this blog into a gaming blog at some point. Nah, anime is still the main thing. Just that I spend more time on gaming now.

Next week’s post will be another blog nomination, so yeah, time to use my creative brain to make the post more entertaining.

But yeah, I will see you guys next week!

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