The long run of Death Stranding

A beautiful atmospheric game with no story, little action

Jon Peddie

Death Stranding, designed by legendary Hideo Kojima and produced by Kojima Productions, is very pretty piece of art with huge landscapes and complex cityscapes. 

The story concept is set in the United States after the eponymous Death Stranding, which caused destructive creatures from a realm between life and death to begin roaming the Earth. Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) is the protagonist and is a FedEx/UPS-like delivery boy on foot charged with delivering supplies to the fractured and isolated colonies that remain. He is also charged with reconnecting them via a wireless communications network.

Sam, the reluctant hero


The outdoor scenes are photorealistic-like and enhanced if one has an Nvidia RTX AIB. However, in gameplay, occasionally there were some broken textures in areas like Sam’s whiskers turning into a 30-feet beard that was annoying. The characters are pretty well crafted although the females tended to look as if they had plastic skin.

The game, if it is a game, is mostly long cut scenes, it really felt more like a movie than a game. The good news is the soundtrack has some delightful songs (by Swedish composer Ludvig Forssell), which you get to hear all of while you sit there and watch the movies.

The storyline, such as it is, involves Sam (you) trying to get from point A to point B, while you get attacked by some strange creatures that float in the air yet leave black footprints as they wander around trying to sniff you. When you get killed, or almost killed, you employ an unborn baby, named BB, in a sack to revive you.

Sam carrying his BB


Sam is a grunt, a porter, who functions like a human pack animal carrying stuff between outposts. As the story (through the videos) unfolds, we learn Sam is the adopted and estranged son of the last US President—Sam arriving at her bedside just as she dies. Then we learn Sam is also the brother of the new President, Amelia, who somehow is being held captive and yet is leading America’s reconstruction. Also, mysteriously, she can communicate with Sam while being held by separatists. It’s more than a little confusing. And then there is Sam’s “Don’t touch me issues—he can’t even shake hands. So, this damaged, and yet indefatigable (he can run for miles and never gets out of breath) is charged with walking and running from the East Coast to the West to save the US.

Before each delivery mission, Sam has to strap big orange boxes on his back. And then has to carefully balance the pack—this is an action of left-right mouse tweaking. And if you fall the cargo you’re carrying will slightly deteriorate as it will also if you take too long. Along the way, you find supplies lost by other porters and you have to pick them up and deliver them. While you’re doing all this, you have to deal with human enemy bandits in MULE gangs. While fending off the MULES, and protecting (and keeping) your boxes, and you also have to avoid several deadly and nearly invisible BT enemies.

As I said, it looks good. And if you like movies, you’ll enjoy it.

I gave up. There’s really not much of a story. The quest concept is borderline ridiculous, and quite frankly I never cared about Sam or any of the other characters. They were flat. Sam is the usual reluctant hero; the cause is supposed to be noble—save the US. One guy carrying packs is going to do that when all the Armies, Air Forces, and Navies failed—right.

The game is a bit of showcase for Nvidia’s DLSS and it does look good. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the game a 4. For comparative purposes, ROTTR gets a 9, Stalker a 10, and FO76 a 7.

The end