Despite all the mystery beforehand, the concept behind Death Stranding is simple, you deliver packages from point A to B. The degree of detail that goes into this work and the excellent presentation make Death Stranding a very special experience.

It’s also an extremely personal experience. To what extent you enjoy Death Stranding depends on several factors. Are you going to be disappointed that Death Stranding is essentially a mailman simulator? Or are you open to a dazzling story in which Kojima combines all sorts of philosophies about life, death and heaven with the experiences and encounters he has experienced in his own life in recent years? And are you someone who, after a long hike, stands still on a hill, enjoys the view and perhaps even withdraws the usefulness of existence in a fraction of a moment?

In the virtual skin of Sam Porter Bridges you visit at least more than enough hilltops. This courier lives in a post-apocalyptic version of the United States. The world is struggling with the consequences of a disaster that blurs the dividing line between the living and the dead. The result is that rain now brings ‘Timefall’. These showers not only age living things and materials at an exceptionally rapid pace, during the rain the souls of deceased people, called “BTs”, float around to draw you into their dimension.

As a result, humanity has become fragmented and different population groups live in isolation from each other, in cities surrounded by walls. As a courier, Sam not only has the task of transporting packages between these locations, he must also connect the locations via an online network on behalf of the US president. In this way the isolated societies can communicate with each other and exchange information.

And so Sam loads all sorts of containers on his back, arms and legs and then transports them to the various places where people live. The satisfaction that you get from this activity is not just enjoying the beautiful environments that you walk through. The challenge that comes with balancing loads also provokes. The weight that Sam places on his body influences how agile he is. With a large load of containers on his back, the poor courier wobbles that it is a sweet delight and you have to use the shoulder buttons to stay in balance.

Unfortunately for him, most of the game world consists of rocks, mountains and rivers, which makes it even more difficult to move packages around on every part of the body. In a river, chances are that you will be pulled over by the current, while you need ladders and climbing ropes to make your way up or down in hilly areas. If you fall in love with you, then you have the chance that a number of containers will fall from your back.

Especially in the first half of the game you are relatively fragile and the environment is your biggest enemy. It is really a sport to work as efficiently as possible and to take the right amount of containers with you and to position them properly during your treks. This is reinforced by the fact that after each delivery you get a score and unlock upgrades that make you even better at work.

Keeping your balance is just one of many game play systems that the game has. Sam has to rest, supplement his stamina with Monster energy drinks, take a shower and occasionally take a pee. Packages on your body wear and rust, especially when you are in a Timefall mode, and with a special spray you give them a new protective layer. Vehicles run on energy and therefore need to be charged, shoes wear out and need replacing quickly. All these elements contribute to the experience and also ensure that your work as a package delivery person remains challenging.

In the meantime, Sam also carries a baby. This “BB” can observe the floating spirits in the air – the aforementioned BTs. When they appear, Death Stranding is at its most exciting. Thunder rolls through the air, after the first few drops it starts to clatter and the meter with which your baby indicates that there are BTs in the area starts to blink and beep. If you keep a close eye on this meter, it is possible to sneak past the almost invisible ghosts.

If you are close to such a BT, it is better to stand still and hold your breath while you hear the BT thumping around Sam. If the BT nevertheless knows how to grab you, the situation will escalate and you will have a boss fight. If you lose that fight, it will have far-reaching consequences for the game world. Trying not to be fooled by a BT is really scary and you can only hope for a happy ending at those moments. Later in the game you also get ways to start attacking BTs, with grenades and bullets that – well, why not? – are made from Sam’s body fluid. The game gives you the choice from that moment to sneak or take action.

As if all these elements do not yet provide enough complexity, Death Stranding also contains an online component. Although you don’t see other players literally walking around in the game world, their actions are all the more important. With materials that you find in the game world, you can create all kinds of structures that facilitate moving around in the faded world of Death Stranding. A bridge over a river here, a paved road there, a charging station for your vehicle and stamina elsewhere. Once you have linked a location to the network, various structures of other players become visible. You can even add materials to creations from those players to upgrade a building. These structures also wear out over time thanks to the Timefall rain showers.

In line with this you can give likes to buildings and other placed objects. During the game you will not only receive likes from the characters in the game, but also from other players who, for example, drive along your roads, sleep in your self-built safe house or appreciate your presence in their game in any way. It’s not entirely clear whether Kojima mainly criticizes the current social media culture, or praises it. In any case, it is a genius social experiment to let players partly determine the structure of the game world. Do they install charging stations at the desired places in your game, or are you reliant on yourself because of the laziness of others?

It is a bizarre concept, players who have to connect the US as a postman, but Kojima knows how to turn it into a cinematic whole that is difficult to compare with other games. When you carefully descend from a mountain to a few industrial buildings, the camera automatically zooms out and a desolate song from the Icelandic band Low Roar is deployed at exactly the right time, everything comes together. Death Stranding knows how to get deep at these moments. Sam’s journey is also depicted in a spectacular way. Especially on a PlayStation 4 Pro with a TV that supports HDR, your mouth regularly falls open when you see the extremely detailed faces of characters, beautiful nature and decaying infrastructure.



– This is not a game for everybody.
– The story is sometimes a bit vague.

+ A very stunning and beautifull designed game world.
+ Unique combination of gameplay elements.
+ Amazing acting with a lot of emotion.

Death Stranding is exclusively available on PlayStation 4 November 8. For this review, the game was played on a PlayStation 4 Pro.