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Unspoken Bond

June 27, 2022 by Tim

I have finished Death Stranding.

 

I complete few enough games that I consider this an accomplishment worth announcing in general, but I feel that anyone that finishes this game in particular deserves to shout it from the goddamned rooftops.

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I tried Death Stranding the fall it hit the Playstation, and also gave it a shot last year on PC, but I fell off at around the third chapter each time (distracted by other games). It intrigued me enough that I refused to uninstall, adamant that I would eventually get to it, which I finally did most recently with the Director’s Cut.

I’m not looking to review the game right now (better men than me have tried) but I do feel the need to at least acknowledge that I did enjoy it. Whatever else you can say about it, Hideo Kojima made a game utterly unlike anything else, and it is an entirely memorable experience for better or worse. I do think it’s fucking ridiculous, pretentious, nonsensical, both entirely too methaphorical and too literal for its own good… you can’t name your main character “Sam Bridges,” working for a company called Bridges while he builds literal bridges to “bring the country back together,” and name your antagonist “Cliff” just so you can have him say a line like “I was just like any other cliff: a dead end. No way forward. I needed you, my bridge to the future blahblahblah” without eliciting an eyeroll so hard you can see the back of your skull.

 

But…! Despite that, I am still glad I played it, and saw it all through to the end, for reasons I find impossible to articulate. None of my friends have played it, and attempting to explain to them what I just went through is futile. It all sounds ridiculous spoken aloud, and the moment the words leave my mouth I find myself questioning why I spent seventy hours doing these things. But I did, and apparently had a good time to boot.

 

To the point of the comic, it feels like the only people that you can really talk about Death Stranding with are people that have survived Death Stranding.

 

I “beat” this game at 7pm on a Friday night, and it was 10pm (!) by the time I had finished the hours of cutscene exposition explaining the fucking plot (because they couldn’t manage it during the actual game), two entire rolls of the game’s credits (I guess in case we nodded off the first time?) and a healthy dose of the game’s signature “run around carrying a thing” mechanic tacked on because of course.

 

I can hear some of you saying “well that’s fucking mental”, and it is. But I also know that simply telling you that does nothing to convey the existential anxiety of actually sitting through it, wondering why the game refuses to end, constantly reaching what looks like a logical stopping point… only to persist and push on either further. It was a “is this really happening? Am I going crazy?” moment that even now I feel the need to confirm with someone else who’s actually been through it.

And that’s trying to talk about any of the game, really. I know when it first launched, a great deal of the coverage boiled down to “walking simulator” or UPS simulator” and we all laughed about it. I get it, though, because I can’t figure out any other way to talk about Death Stranding. There is more to it… it’s just unquantifiable. On paper, it all looks so silly.

And yet I spent several weeks hearing about “beaches” and “strands” and “EEs” and “chiral” everything while carting various sized boxes back and forth over mountains and valleys and building more efficient ways to get back and forth and absolutely enjoying it in a weird, meditative zen sort of way. I know I had fun. But if I think back objectively I still ask “what the fuck even was that?”

So yeah. I beat Death Stranding. I enjoyed it. You couldn’t pay me to do it again. Those feelings coexist. I will remember it for the rest of my life. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Yes.

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Duncan
Duncan
5 months ago

Leaving Analog and D-Pad so soon? Say it ain’t so!

Sarah
Sarah
5 months ago
Reply to  Duncan

great

Stef
Stef
5 months ago

Pssh, I finished the witness

Tim
Tim
5 months ago
Reply to  Stef

Pff ! I finished WoW… Twice !

Bookishjon
Bookishjon
5 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Sigh…I miss WoW. Nothing compared to the joy of playing my prot warrior and no other tanking class has come close.

raven0ak
raven0ak
5 months ago
Reply to  Bookishjon

too bad not even classic wow gets anywhere close to how vanilla was; now its all ruined by years of private servers, communities full of old school fellowship and wonder how to play or what builds actually even work no longer exists

Marseyais
Marseyais
5 months ago
Reply to  Stef

Oh damn, I wasn’t thinking about it but yes, that’s a great other conceptual game, albeit totally different.
I loved breaking my brain on this game, but as soon as you finish it, and then watch that weird “secret” ending video….
I’d have a hard time putting into words the empty feeling that submerged me, watching this weird video.
Yet, it was a fascinating experience that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end !

Last edited 5 months ago by Marseyais
Kazuma Taichi
Kazuma Taichi
5 months ago
Reply to  Stef

my condolences

Stef
Stef
5 months ago
Reply to  Kazuma Taichi

haha.
I had fun, honestly!
(some slight frustration once in a while)

fuzzy
fuzzy
5 months ago
Reply to  Stef

Did you do all the environmental puzzles? I mean I looked up a few lot of them, and I also looked up the solution to the “Red” puzzle, but I still feel like I’m proud of all the work I put in.

Jack0r
Jack0r
5 months ago

I “finished” it by watching it on Youtube. There you can do something useful next to it and skip when stuff gets too unbearably boring.

What I had most trouble with, though, was the lame resolution. Death stranding is one of these stories, where apparently the writers had this really wacky setup, and had fun developing the questions, but when it came time two answer the questions, they were already bored themselves with it, so they couldn’t be bothered to do it properly.

The end just felt like some random things glued together.

Nextgener
Nextgener
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack0r

That’s sort of the thing. “Watching” it is different from “Playing” it. I know that from experience, because anyone who watches it say’s the same thing. But playing it…I don’t wanna be the guy who say’s “You just don’t get it”, but…yeah, this game is a Hideo Kojima game at his most Hideo Kojima. That is the only statement I can make about this game for people who haven’t played it. Because trying to explain it without sounding like a protnious twat is almost impossible. And To Be Clear Even The People Who Have Played It Don’t Understand Why We… Read more »

Jack0r
Jack0r
5 months ago
Reply to  Nextgener

Not trying to be offensive in any way. I guess, there might be a selection bias. I reckon, people who really stick through the grind are probably the kind of person who enjoys that.

Similar to how I wouldn’t count a top tier WoW/DotA/… player’s view on their game as the “average gamer’s opinion”. As in, someone who enjoys that kind of grind has probably different views on this kind of game than other people.

Same thing probably also applies to me, but with games like Simutrans, Cities Skylines or Factorio.

vaisravana
vaisravana
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack0r

Love cities, but even watching Factorio puts me to sleep. it is def a really well made and polished game though, I can see that. You are probably right as for Death stranding falling into the same category. I can see part of the appeal though. Imho it is a blend of a bunch of genres – puzzle/pathfinding, dexterity, logistics (as for planning routes to potentially combine multiple deliveries in one go), scenery walking sim and a giant dose of Kojima weirdness. I did very much enjoy watching a complete playthrough of a good friend, but I know I would… Read more »

foducool
foducool
5 months ago

lmao if we lived in the world of psycho-pass, Kojima would definitely be a trouble instigator

PersonalC0ffee
PersonalC0ffee
5 months ago

Congrats Tim!

Paweł Zdanowski
Paweł Zdanowski
5 months ago

I’ve been there too. We are all Bridges.

Guest
Guest
5 months ago

It sounds like Kojima made a bet that he can sell anything with his name on it, no matter the ridiculousness. He obviously won that bet.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Guest

He would have lost were it not for Kojima’s obsessive level of detail put into every feature. My favorite common element of every Metal Gear Solid is having endless conversations with my support characters.

Aaron
Aaron
5 months ago

Go rinse out your brain with some duke nukem.

ocramot
ocramot
5 months ago

Ok, I always dismissed it as “the postman game”, but now you convinced me to give it a try.

Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma
5 months ago

I think people forget that Hideo Kojima is a good storyteller, but he also has a very punch you in the mouth with how obvious it is in retrospect sense of worldbuilding that waffles between brilliant and Hollywood stupid – which tracks, because he loves typical Hollywood logic, like…

Hot Coldman – a man who wanted to turn the Cold war Hot.
Vamp – The Undying Vampire
Skullface – The man whose face looks like a skull, and who apparently, followed me through Russia, killing all those soldiers I took great pains to knock unconscious.
Revolver Ocelot –

Literally All of Metal Gear Solid
The revolver using quadruple double agent who brainwashed himself to forget that he needed to forget that he was a quadruple double agent

Last edited 5 months ago by Kaitensatsuma
Jack0r
Jack0r
5 months ago
Reply to  Kaitensatsuma

Thb, I think he’s pretty good at creating a weird, incredibly intriguing setup, but he’s not very good at bringing it all back together to some sort of cohesive whole…

FITCamaro
FITCamaro
5 months ago

Missed opportunity Tim. Should have been someone sitting there in what looked like a UPS or Amazon outfit.

Arcanum
Arcanum
5 months ago

I can’t speak for anyone else, but after playing Death Stranding I’m solidly in the “people need to stop letting Kojima write things” camp. I enjoyed the gamplay (mostly; I do have some complaints, especially in the late game), but Jesus Christ I wished Kojima would stop yammering at me about his pseudo-intellectual wankery.

Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma
5 months ago
Reply to  Arcanum

That’s like half the fun!

Arcanum
Arcanum
5 months ago
Reply to  Kaitensatsuma

I think it would be more fun if he wasn’t repeating the same thing over and over, wasting literal hours of my life, leading to me empathizing with Deadpool.

Seriously, Kojima, I got it the first three times.

Maxwell
Maxwell
5 months ago

To me the game presented some new multiplayer dread – what if people get bored of the game and we stop building things together?

But luckily, ungrounded fear.

Ryan
Ryan
5 months ago

I may be in the minority of people, but I found Death Stranding an amazing, if very different game. I actually think back on my memories of trudging through post-apocolypse America with fondness. That first moment when the game started playing Low Roar was really when it drew me in. By the end I was just as invested as at the beginning. Call me crazy for liking it so much but it just felt different. I can’t see another game being made like it. But I’m glad I had a chance to play it (once.)

GlitcherGirl
GlitcherGirl
5 months ago

I beat Death Stranding before my husband. Even though his setup is right next to mine and that he would often pause his game to watch mine, he still asked what the ending was like and I still couldn’t explain it.

Stevebri
Stevebri
5 months ago

Sheldon discusses this today too! 🙂 http://www.sheldoncomics.com/

Alcor
Alcor
5 months ago

Y’all have forgotten how Metal Gear was so quickly. That game was easily as weird and as much shenanigans, as a whole series, as Death Stranding. Some of y’all haven’t played Kojima games in a while and it shows XD

Also I appreciate any author/dev/whatever who prevents players from making bullshit naming things. I hate it when people are like “lol let me name my main character Butts” or something.

GurrenLagann
GurrenLagann
5 months ago

Meh, I beat the Death Stranding on PS4.

I thought It was a chill and great experience but yeah everyone bashed it because of the first few hours.

Brian
Brian
5 months ago

Welcome to the brotherhood Tim.

Soup
Soup
5 months ago

Death Stranding is the most surprisingly and inexplicably intriguing game I’ve ever played. I still need to finish it myself (got distracted by Cyberpunk 2077 releasing, haven’t managed to get back to it yet.)

Bob
Bob
5 months ago

It’s still installed on my system HD. Hoping against hope that I’ll pick it up and finish it one day.

Stormlord15
Stormlord15
5 months ago

Having just finishing watching Sword Art Online, a support group talking about having been thru a game no one else will understand the experience of takes on a different meaning.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Stormlord15

Have you watched the Abridged version? It’s 10 episodes long (around 15 minutes each) and the story is much better. The villain’s confession at the end is premium “amateur improves the professional’s work”.

Lith
Lith
5 months ago

That’s… honestly my entire mood with Death Stranding. Kojima has this ability to take the most cringe concept and make it work. It takes the camp and runs with it.

I still wanna see a Kojima gameplay + Yoko Taro story + Nomura character designed game though. I think it would be hilarious.

Mr_Meng
Mr_Meng
5 months ago

I’ve always enjoyed Kojima games but that’s mainly because I don’t mind watching half hour cutscenes.

Chris
Chris
5 months ago

Well that’s new. Someone on the internet showing their pride for some accomplishment, and the comment section isn’t just people belittling it or one-upping it.

Last edited 5 months ago by Chris
Calibus
Calibus
5 months ago

Ngl. You got me on the first half. I thought Ethan was in a anon group for supers who are dealing with trauma from being vigilantes.

Ste
Ste
5 months ago

I’m with you. I’ve always described my experience as “I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t tell you why”.

leduk
leduk
5 months ago

saw a video of the gameplay, and never even bought it ^^

Sanquin
Sanquin
5 months ago

What gave me the biggest eyeroll in Death Stranding was HK’s naming sense, instead of calling things what they are: “Beached things” (ghosts), Timefall (aging rain), Knots (shelters), Bridge babies (scanners using half-dead babies), DOOMS sufferers (Psychics), Chiral energy (energy from the realm of the dead or dead energy), “The beach”… (Limbo) And of course the characters’ names. “Cliff Unger”, Sam “Bridges”, “Fragile”, “Die Hardman”, “Bridget Strand”, etc. HK’s storytelling is intriguing and makes one want to know more, but his naming sense is like a 10 year old with a baseball bat. ^^;; I believe Rick and Morty made… Read more »

Jake Salthouse
Jake Salthouse
2 months ago

I’ve just started this game, and I am immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of WTF that was crammed into the first hour. This is definitely a game that appeals to the completionist. I would actually say that the game probably has a closer feeling to being an actual postman then playing a videogame: it feels like work, and I guess that’s fulfilling. Regardless, there are moments when your sneaking through a crowd of BT’s, holding your breath, the weird device on your shoulder flapping maniacally at something you can’t see, where the game speeds up. I wouldn’t call it… Read more »