Paige FTW: ‘Death Stranding’ Is Sure A Game

The big thing right now — Death Stranding, the mysterious brainchild of auteur Hideo Kojima. Supremely hyped with the requisite ambiguity, the big drop of fall 2019 is a cutscene-heavy, celebrity-laden fetch quest simulator (with some stealth elements to round things out).

Of course, the Kojima touch means that it is hypnotically enjoyable to wander the woodlands of a ravaged United States, picking up boxes and building roads and ziplines as you go. It gets annoying when Sam (played by Norman Reedus, as the game reminds you about 40 times) stumbles or loses his balance. But you walk on and on and on for hours, patiently laying out ladders to help other players.

The philosophy of the game seems, well, pretty on the nose. Your ultimate goal (as far as I can tell) is to “reconnect” the ruins of America, bringing isolated communities together as one nation once more. That surely has no political implications in our current environment. In case that wasn’t clear to you, the game makes sure it hammers its points home anyway.

The strange thing is that it’s easy to pick at Death Stranding’s flaws (which are myriad), and yet it’s difficult to bring yourself to hate the game.

Yes, everything is deeply confusing and mired in unnecessary jargon. Yes, the game is deeply repetitive. Yes, everything is so weird — you carry around a fetus (called a BB) on your chest to avoid getting killed by strange black monster things (called BTs). But you have the ability to just … come back to life. Your mother is also president of the United States. What?

And still, there you and Sam are, chugging along, building those roads.

Death Stranding is the most pretentious, self-important game in the world, and you will love every weird minute of it. How is Kojima going to follow this up? I don’t know, and I’m dying to find out.