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  • Review Copy Provided by PlayStation.

  • In a lot of ways it's amazing Death Stranding even exists.

  • The game often prioritizes the mundane over the exciting,

  • intentionally evoking strong feelings of loneliness

  • by having you trudge through desolate areas all by yourself.

  • Such isolation ties into the core theme, which is all about bringing others together

  • and how strong human connection can be.

  • It's easy to make parallels between what's going on in this fictional world

  • and our own tech-riddled lives.

  • The fact that Death Stranding tries to explore and question so much is refreshing,

  • but sometimes the game overindulges, and not all of its ideas hit as they should.

  • There's a whole messy knot of things going on both within the narrative and the gameplay,

  • for better and worse.

  • You play as Sam, a porter who spends his days bringing all manner of goods

  • from one part of Death Stranding's fragmented world to another.

  • And really, delivery is most of the game.

  • There are countless stretches where there's little other than the quiet, an objective marker,

  • and the road you choose to get there.

  • It's a sort of intentional boredom that can be off-putting, which seems to be the point.

  • Delivery becomes a job, and like any job, there are times when you don't want to do it.

  • However, by having tedium serve as such an essential part, it makes small moments stand out more.

  • Since Sam spends so much time on foot,

  • arranging cargo efficiently is crucial.

  • Carelessness leads to damaging whatever precious things you're carrying.

  • The same is true of the small decisions made along the way.

  • Stray packages are littered all over, and if you want to help out by picking them up, you can,

  • but doing so means increasing your load, potentially slowing you down and making it easier to lose balance.

  • Many times the quickest way to a destination isn't the safest,

  • and regularly scanning the environment to see the depth of a river or difficulty of the terrain

  • helps you safely put one foot in front of the other.

  • Using simple tools such as a rope to rappel down a mountain or a ladder to cross a chasm can be vital,

  • but knowing when to best use them as well as how many to bring along is all part of the strategy

  • since they add to the overall weight.

  • Death Stranding does a commendable job of slowly layering new obstacles

  • on top of the basic challenge of traversal.

  • Weather conditions get worse over time, distances get farther, and loads become trickier to manage.

  • Outside adversaries such as the ghost-like BTs and the fanatic MULES also become more prevalent.

  • There's always something to deal with, whether big or small,

  • and like the Metal Gear Solid games, Death Stranding provides room for experimentation,

  • offering an array of tools that, while not essential,

  • offer flexibility and create the sensation that whatever delivery style you land on is your own.

  • The game's biggest strength comes from not how it promotes individual creativity, but

  • rather with asynchronous collaboration.

  • Objects like ladders and ropes that you use to make the road easier

  • appear in the worlds of other players and vice versa.

  • If someone uses a tool of yours, the game notifies you,

  • and players can even "like" the object repeatedly.

  • It's satisfying to serve as an invisible hand,

  • and the way Death Stranding is designed makes it hard to ever truly take it for granted.

  • Because there's often so little around, seeing the evidence of someone else can be comforting,

  • and you feel appreciative of whatever it is they placed into the world,

  • not necessarily because you need it, but because it punches through the wall of isolation

  • the game is so good at constructing.

  • There are times when you do need it, though.

  • If you're caught in a bad situation for one reason or another,

  • a total stranger can almost feel like some sort of guardian angel.

  • It creates a tangible sense of community,

  • where you're appreciative of the kindness of others simply because they're being kind,

  • or at least it's easy to interpret that way.

  • There are countless other games where you play with others,

  • but few make the act of interaction so celebrated,

  • allowing it to feel a bit deeper and more meaningful.

  • How Death Stranding emphasizes interaction also helps the gravity of its own message.

  • Time and again, the game states how people need to come together in order to survive.

  • Yet because you get to live that experience firsthand just by playing,

  • it's easier to take into real consideration.

  • To put it bluntly, Death Stranding is trying to practice what it preaches.

  • Unfortunately when the game strays away from its best concepts, the end result is generally underwhelming.

  • Although we're limited in what we can show, boss fights look and seem like

  • they should be these incredible moments, but they end up playing out as anything but.

  • In fact, whenever Death Stranding leans in on shooting,

  • any tension or interest completely evaporates because of how rudimentary these sections are.

  • It essentially amounts to pointing and blasting away within a small box.

  • For how basic it all is, these moments can be needlessly stretched out.

  • What's worse is the game throws the same bad ideas at the player repeatedly,

  • making it more tedious over time.

  • Kojima has partly built a reputation on his inventiveness with action and boss fights, but

  • that quality is sorely missing in Death Stranding.

  • The same is largely true of dealing with MULE camps or sneaking past BTs.

  • MULEs hunt you down since they're obsessed with stealing whatever cargo you're carrying.

  • They can catch you off guard, especially if you're in a zen-like state while peacefully delivering packages.

  • Yet whatever excitement could pop up in these encounters

  • deflates upon discovering how quickly MULEs crumble.

  • Small armies of them can be dealt with by only using a rope.

  • It's practically an identical situation with BTs.

  • How they're presented is legitimately unsettling.

  • Trudging around these often invisible, otherworldly forces is an excellent concept,

  • as is the fact that they chase after you through handprints they aggressively stomp into the ground.

  • Yet despite the effective presentation, they're really not much of a threat.

  • As long as you move quietly and efficiently hold your breath,

  • there's little worry of being caught.

  • The game doesn't dramatically change things up with BTs either.

  • Once you know how to get past them, they're simple to circumvent every time.

  • Death Stranding has a tendency of making something look interesting without necessarily following through.

  • As expected, the narrative is a lot to unpack.

  • Everyone is isolated in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event,

  • and it's your job to reconnect the United States by establishing a countrywide network.

  • Sam has a clear objective, but the game is always teasing at something greater and more insidious.

  • It often flashes intentionally confusing scenes that almost dare you to try to piece it all together.

  • Of course, the hope is that

  • there's some sort of emotional payoff after spending so much time in the dark,

  • and there definitely is.

  • For all of the twisting and turning the game does, a lot of it comes together with surprising clarity by the end.

  • Part of what makes some of the mystery and eventual reveals work

  • comes down to the strength of individual performances.

  • The big name actors and motion capture technology are used to great effect.

  • A lot of emotion is communicated nonverbally, and moments of particular anguish feel palpable

  • because of the expressions seen on screen.

  • Music is also used fantastically and with great care.

  • It's rare that the meticulously pieced together soundtrack is utilized at all,

  • and you spend an abundance of time in silence.

  • Yet when a quietly stunning track does appear, the contrast makes these moments all the better.

  • The method perfectly mirrors how you interact with other players and the world itself.

  • There are things about the storytelling that are hard to let go of.

  • Sometimes Death Stranding's story can't seem to decide whether it wants to leave you out at sea

  • or beat you over the head to the point of bruising.

  • There are moments when it spends so many words to say very little.

  • A big reason for this problem is the repetition with how things play out.

  • Major characters sort of push you along from one objective to another

  • until you eventually hear their tragic backstories.

  • It's not that this background is uninteresting, but how you get there can feel unnatural.

  • The game needs more connective tissue between its big emotional cut-scenes,

  • which is hinted at through optional emails.

  • These messages can be just as interesting as anything else

  • and are one of the very few ways you get an idea of how this world is viewed by the people within it,

  • which helps ground the story.

  • Yet reading through countless emails is not the most gripping way to get a sense of things,

  • so it's hard not to want some of these ideas or moments to get a bigger spotlight.

  • Fragile ends up being one of the best characters because of

  • how much quality time you get to spend with her.

  • Other characters can feel like tutorial givers, info dumpers, or objective issuers,

  • whereas Fragile feels more like a person who slowly develops in parallel with Sam himself.

  • Death Stranding contains aspects that could have been better.

  • It's also easy to cherish your time with it.

  • It's exactly the kind of game that opens your eyes to how nauseatingly safe most games are.

  • Death Stranding shoots for the moon, carelessly tossing away convention in ways others wouldn't dare.

  • The game wants you to be uncomfortable, confused, bored,

  • and to reflect on those feelings, to sit with them for a while.

  • There is a sense of fearlessness here that's hard not to respect

  • and that most aren't given the opportunity to attempt.

  • Death Stranding is an easy, easy game to complain about or even be angry at,

  • but it's also a lot more fascinating than many other, more conservative works.

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  • Review Copy Provided by PlayStation.

Review Copy Provided by PlayStation.

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Death Stranding - Easy Allies Review

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    張言楷 posted on 2019/11/02
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