Reviews for Hideo Kojima's "social strand" experimental game Death Stranding are finally here, and not all of them are positive. Death Stranding is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated games in recent years. The reviews for Death Stranding are largely positive, but some critics had a hard time reconciling the games considerable shortcomings.
Ever since Death Stranding was announced in 2016, Kojima fans and gamers around the world have been puzzled as to what the game actually is. As time went on, despite dozens of press releases and countless trailers, it seemed that the confusion only worsened. In early 2019, Kojima announced that development for the game was "a little behind schedule." But Kojima steered the development team back on course and back on schedule for a 2019 release.
Just moments after the review embargo lifted on November 1st, the contentious discourse about Death Stranding had already begun. Most critics praised the games' technological achievements in graphics and ingenuity. Many belabored the importance of the games narrative in such a divisive time. But there were some who were frankly, just having none of it. These are some of the most negative takes on the game:
Powerup Gaming - 3/10
Death Stranding is clearly a labour of love for Kojima and his team but I hate it. Games don’t need to be fun, exciting, happy or cool but they should at least be entertaining.
Death Stranding is not entertaining. As such, it fails as a video game, it fails as a narrative and it fails overall.
VG24/7 - 3/5
Death Stranding wields metaphor like a cudgel and beats you over the head with it. Sam Bridges, the man who’s travelling the world to connect people, has aphenphosmphobia – the fear of being touched. That’s just, like, so deep, man. Let me take another hit on this bong.
stevivor - 3.5/10
The problem with Death Stranding is that Hideo Kojima has become wholly self-indulgent, making something I’m sure he considers a masterpiece. Death Stranding is anything but, with its head so far up its own ass it’s almost funny."
Game Informer - 7/10
The real issue is that Death Stranding’s gameplay really is as simple as it appears to be, and the elements around it – the story, combat, and lackluster mission objectives – aren’t satisfying enough to anchor the title and get players invested.
VGC - 3/5
Death Stranding is an unusual and fascinating game by triple-A blockbusters standards, but its workings are clogged by its creator’s self-importance. It deserves praise for side-stepping a few of the open-world genre’s bad habits, but Kojima needs to shed a few of his own if he’s going to move beyond Metal Gear.
CGM - 7.5/10
Death Stranding also has a tendency to feel like it’s purposely wasting your time. You often have to walk to one location, then return to the old one again, doing a back-and-forth across the map when the missions and interference were already uninteresting.
AusGamers - 6/10
I hate having to be the messenger here -- and that statement could work as my eight-word review -- but I must deliver some bad news today. Unless you're a super hardcore Kojima fan who's been devouring every single scrap of pre-release info on Death Stranding, there's a good chance you're about to saddle up with something that isn't what you think it is.
IGN - 6.8
The vast majority of its 70 main story missions are structured in the same way as the optional side missions we’ve all run in countless other open-world games. With the exception of certain tutorial missions which introduce the basics of the combat system, boss fights, and a handful of other combat-oriented diversions, advancing the plot in Death Stranding amounts to taking item X from location A to location B, over and over again. Sounds pretty repetitive, right? Well, the good news is that there are also side missions in Death Stranding. The bad news is that these side missions are also fetch quests, undertaken mainly to unlock additional items or customisation options.
Death Stranding definitely frustrated critics. The main criticisms the game received were: boring gameplay, convoluted inventory management, and a sometimes self-indulgent story. This is the first game Kojima has released since departing Konami back in 2015.
A game can be emotionally or mechanically difficult, but it should never feel arduous. There have been many successful choose your own adventure or walking simulator games. These are the types of games for players who would prefer to be immersed in a story rather than the gameplay. In some ways, Death Stranding is a narrative focused walking simulator. In others, it's a third person action game. And in others, it's survival horror. Essentially, Death Stranding is what Kojima wanted - a game that is truly unlike any other.
Death Stranding releases Sunday, November 8, 2019 on the PlayStation 4.