In Review

Death Stranding reviews: is it 2019’s most divisive game?

Kojima’s latest adventure wows some while others are left scratching their heads

The reviews are in for Death Stranding, the latest exclusive title on the PlayStation 4 and one of the most eagerly anticipated – if  divisive – video games of the year. 

Death Stranding is the latest creation from Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind the Metal Gear Solid franchise, and takes players to a futuristic version of the United States. 

Players are tasked with tracking down the daughter of the US president and spreading a message of hope following an event that could spell the end of humanity. 

Death Stranding’s plot has come under the spotlight since the game’s debut at Sony’s PlayStation Experience (PSX) expo in October 2016. Fans and critics were left mystified by the game’s original trailer, with subsequent gameplay previews doing little to explain the narrative.

Here’s what the critics had to say...

Reviews

As of 12 November, review aggregator Metacritic gave Death Stranding a score of 83 out of 100, based on 85 critic reviews. While that’s a respectable score, the breakdown of review scores is staggering.

For instance, Trusted Reviews gives the game a full five stars, hailing it as “one of the most original games of this generation”. 

During the game’s opening chapter, it becomes clear that “Death Stranding” is the name of an apocalyptic event that “left the world in tatters”, the tech site explains. “There’s talk of multiple universes, teleportation and goodness knows what else that you’ll discover for yourself,” which players with a “penchant for the bizarre” will adore.

Gamespot’s Kallie Plagge is equally impressed. Giving it a nine out of ten, she says Death Stranding is a game “that requires patience, compassion, and love, and it’s also one we really need right now”. 

She says: “There are many intertwining threads to its plot, and silly names, corny moments, and heavy exposition belie an otherwise very simple message.

“It’s positive without ignoring pain; in fact, it argues in both its story and its gameplay that adversity itself is what makes things worth doing and life worth living.” 

IGN, meanwhile, argues that players will “need to work incredibly hard” to enjoy Death Stranding. In its 6.8 out of ten review, the site says the game “feels convoluted and requires far more effort than it has any right to”.

For example, the gaming site says players need to slow travel to specific locations in order to fast travel to other places on the map. This process also triggers three cutscenes, which can be skipped but draw out the gameplay experience.  

Digital Trends agrees, noting that the gameplay runs at a slow pace until players unlock more tools to help traverse the environment. The world itself, meanwhile, is “as gorgeous to look at as it is boring to move across”. 

Its review concludes: “Some people will hail it as a technical and narrative masterpiece that pushes the medium forward. Others will simply be bored to tears by the slow, repetitive gameplay.” It’s unlikely to “change the minds of Kojima detractors”, but its “innovation and compelling story” is well worth experiencing.  

Release date and where to order 

Death Stranding is now available exclusively on the PS4 and can be ordered from Amazon for £49.99.

Will it launch on PS5?

Probably. There’s no official word from Sony that the game will launch on its next-generation console, but PS5 architect Mark Cerny hinted in an interview with Wired earlier this year that Death Stranding may launch on the new system as well.

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