back to article Death Stranding: Essential worker simulator unites its players amid a lockdown far worse than the real-life one

Greetings, traveller, and welcome to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column back once again with some triple-A, PlayStation-adjacent "content" albeit this time on PC. Ah, it's good to be home. Promise we'll get back to something a little more indie once the lamestream stops churning out games we actually want to …

  1. Andy Non Silver badge
    Happy

    Excellent game

    If you like open world games with lots of exploring then this game is for you. The plot is a bit weird but easy to get into. You never quite know who to trust in this game so best to keep an open mind about everyone you come into contact with. To quote from the article "Initially, sneaking past BTs is the only option, and your first encounter is mildly terrifying" -- This a hundredfold. For such a nebulous adversary, they are quite chilling somehow. Those in the destroyed city are more so, especially when you have to try to navigate it looking for various items. The mules are a pain too as you aren't allowed to kill them or they become another death stranding, so you can only punch them unconscious. This is all fine and good at the beginning when they only punch back, but gradually during the game they acquire weapons making things more difficult.

    There was one serious bug in the game - one of the settlements in the mountains showed up in the map in the wrong place. I only stumbled upon it by accident when it should have been much further away. Same bug occurred when I had to go there again later, so you could easily waste a lot of time looking for the settlement based upon the error in the map. I think it glitches if you resize the map - it doesn't resize back down again properly.

    There are some funny moments too. Try giving the character too many cans of that fizzy drink when he's resting in his room. ;-)

    Really enjoyed the game. Worth the money IMHO.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Excellent game

      I love open-world games.

      I got this free with a gaming laptop I bought, first day of its Steam release

      I downloaded it, loaded it. It looked really good.

      I still have the TWO HOURS of gameplay on my account for it.

      In that time I estimate I had control of the game for approximately 5 minutes (for reference, 2 hours of cutscenes and crap gets you to the bit where you first run out to the building near the president's base, and first encounter the aliens for real and have to get back to the base).

      I got back to the base. Deleted the game. I was SO BORED.

      It ran beautifully, looked gorgeous, but it just wasn't a game. I was expecting at any moment things to kick off... but in reality it just didn't, and I got bored of the "this will be it... this will be the moment... oh... no... another cutscene" events (meeting the girl in the cave, finding the base, the car crashing, meeting the president, etc. etc. etc.).

      I hated virtually every minute of the "game". It wasn't a game. I'm sure it does turn into some kind of game later but I got bored waiting. It's only because it was a redeemed code that I didn't pay for why I didn't try to refund it, but I would have if I could.

      I'm now having the same issue with Control (again, getting bored of just too much crap in between playing and then just a basic fight in-between cutscenes that you expect to somehow "explain" themselves and it just never happens).

      I bought a gaming laptop after 8 years of having an old one and not playing any "new" titles between (everything since GTA V, basically). I thought that would mean I'd have the absolute best of gaming, on a powerful computer, ready to play and catch up on all the amazing advancements in that time.

      So far, apart from Batman Arkham Knight, they're all just - literally - pretty shite.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Excellent game

        There were quite a few cutscenes, especially at the beginning and end but having played the game beginning to end including most of the side quests I'd say they account for less than 1% of the total game time. Most of the time is spent carrying objects from one location to another with some fighting or sneaking past adversaries. I love these games with lots of walking and exploring the landscape or building roads and structures; though I know some hate that and want constant full on action and fighting. This isn't one of those games. As someone else commented, I think you may need to be a little OCD to enjoy this game - I am and it suited me perfectly. It throws you few curve-balls too e.g. like when you suddenly find yourself in full conflict in a world war one trench surrounded by soldiers, tanks and explosions; the end also has some twists within twists.

      2. ConfusedAntelope

        Re: Excellent game

        If you're looking for fantastic open-world games that also make the most of your graphics, I highly recommend The Witcher 3 and Kingdom Come Deliverance.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Excellent game

          Why men throw their lives away attacking an armed Witcher... I'll never know. Something about my face?

  2. macjules Silver badge

    Thanks for the review

    I am sure it is an excellent game but I am soooo sick of overlong cutscenes and "ooh, look at the resolution and details of of our videos". CoD WW2, for example, was basically a sequence of extremely long angst-ridden cutscenes with miniiscule gameplay sandwiched inbetween.

  3. Charles 9 Silver badge

    PC ports...

    I suppose in the XB1/PS4 generation, both of which are themselves PC-based, porting is less of an issue than it was in previous generations, especially with modern development toolkits that tend to have portability in mind.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: PC ports...

      Ah, you say that but Horizon Zero Dawn, which was ported earlier this month and is built on the same engine, was supposedly a hot mess on arrival.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: PC ports...

        It was a hot mess on PS4 in my opinion. I left the game to play something else as I got bored to death with it as I can't get past the bit near the beginning where the father is calling out "throw a rock near to me". Great, but where the f*** is he? I can't see him anywhere, if I move to look I die, if I don't move and throw rocks in every direction I die of old age while he keeps shouting the same annoying instruction over and over again. I keep going back to the game every now and then, but frankly it isn't living up to the hype so far.

        1. Anonymous Coward
        2. Vin1981

          Re: PC ports...

          Wait.. So you gave up on the game THAT early.. All you had to do was throw a rock near your father who is hiding in a bush.. (By clicking in the right analog stick you can highlight him) .. which intices over a Watcher that he takes out..

          You are honestly missing out on a great game by giving up so easily and quickly.. It DOES get a lot better despite its slow story intro..

          1. Andy Non Silver badge

            Re: PC ports...

            Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a go. Didn't know about the right analog stick click. I spent ages (ten minutes?) throwing rocks all over the place without luck. I've also got some headphones now too, so perhaps there is a better directional indicator to his shouts than the mono output from the TV.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: PC ports...

        I suspect this was one of those Sony chipped in with the original developing, thus Guerilla may have been a bit hung out to dry when doing a PC port. Tales of this sort tend to be few and far between for this generation and likely going forward barring another architectural shift.

  4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Yay

    I doubt I'll play it, but it's nice to see a game that's not just a retread of a thousand other games. I'm waiting for someone to create a game they bill as a GTA CoD Madden 2020 Battle Royale MMO.

  5. croc

    This game is helped along if the user is a bit (or a LOT) OCD. I personally don't like the 'online' bits, and fortunately they are not a necessity for the game. Some of the things I found annoying are the camera positions, only being third person and fixed, mean that you are guessing a lot when traversing mountainous terrain Looking up at Sam's butt is NOT a good view - for finding your next handhold.

    As to Hideo's style, this game (like ALL RPGs, to a greater or lesser extent) requires the user to put their sanity in a nice, safe place for the duration and just go with it Try not to read too much into the alternate universe that Kojima Studios has created, just make it your belief system for those moments.

    Beautiful scenery, (or should I say 'beautifully done'?) nice music (which is good - the options do not include 'no music') much attention to detail....

    I was worried about 're-playability'. And, indeed it is not going to be as good in that niche as most of, say, Bethesda's games. But I am on my third play through. Indeed it took me two play throughs just to understand the game mechanics fully

    Would I recommend this game? Depends on the kind of person you are. If you are just out to 'beat' the game, then no. If you are a person that can appreciate the details, and the attention to same, a person that can suspend their belief and adopt another belief system, then yes. It also helps if you are just a tad OCD....

  6. Robert Grant Silver badge

    It's sci-fi that assumes the existence of the soul and an afterlife so you'll just have to bear with.

    Huh?

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Your main adversary are a type of nebulous ghost, which are surprisingly scary and can be difficult to evade and difficult to fight if you encounter a lot of them and aren't carrying enough amo - the amo being grenades made from your own blood.

  7. Cederic Silver badge

    sounds dull

    I don't mind walking simulators - Dear Esther was a joy - and I do like games that let me zone out - something like ETS2/ATS (Euro / American Truck Simulator) offer the same meditative state that a good long drive will. I can cope with games that have periods of nothing happening; several hundred hours of Fishing Planet testify to this.

    But the review and descriptions of this game just don't make it sound fun. MGS:V Phantom Pain was described here as a mess but it had world class game play supported by excellent graphics and a story that, whether it made sense or not, was at least consistent within itself. I found it coherent too.

    I'm sure the story in this is engaging, but the game itself? Sorry, just not appealing to me.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: sounds dull

      I think Phantom Pain really suffered at the hands of Konami, though I agree that the gameplay was great. I'd like to pick it up again at some point. Death Stranding is Marmite; hence my cautions of "not being for everyone".

  8. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    ,,,There are also human foes, "MULES" – rogue porters who want to steal your cargo to deliver it themselves

    A sign of things to come...?

    Gig economy delivery operatives gone rogue

    Uber Eats drivers ambushing Deliveroo riders etc

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great summary...

    This review is actually one of the best summaries of the game I've read - very good work.

    I spent many hundreds of hours completing this at the beginning of the year - if you get into the rhythm of it, it's really meditative and enjoyable. I think it works because the reward structure is right - there is something super satisfying about building a road and knowing it's helping someone else out as well...

    Sure, it's a Kojima game, so there is ample opportunity to make coffee during cutscenes, and the "plot" is just batshit - but he really does know how to make a game rewarding.

    Now I feel like I ought to spin it up again, but I fear discovering that after many months timefall has destroyed all my hard work (I had built an entire motorway network goddammit) could break my fragile psyche.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Great summary...

      I doubt playing it again would be as good the second time around as you know how the "plot" evolves and how the game ends etc. I might play it again in a year or two when I've had chance to forget some of it. I doubt I'll forget that ungrateful scrote who orders pizza and moans if it's cold while I'm out there risking my life trying to save the world! LOL

      I really enjoy these games where there is lots of walking through countryside involved. I find it quite relaxing. Same with the Assassins Creed games; I rarely use the horse/camel preferring to wander and collect stuff on the way. You also encounter more side quests that way too.

      I never managed to ride the motorbike in Death Stranding very well, wobbling around all over the place with it and drove it off the road into the river! Ironically I have a full motorbike licence and am used to riding super-bikes. The trucks in the game were much easier to drive. I bet they are a pile of dust now - that timefall rain is pretty caustic.

  10. lglethal Silver badge
    Unhappy

    100 hours... sigh... Next...

    This looked really interesting, beautiful, relaxing, with jumps in difficulty and pacing to keep it interesting. But I'm sorry, I'm a father with a wife who would like to spend some time with me and kids who want my attention. I just dont have the time for to spend 100 hours in a single game anymore. 20 hours is perfect, 40 I can just about handle if I'm really enjoying myself, but 100 hours. Sorry, life is too short and I have way too many other things calling for my attention.

    It seems like game designers feel they need to pad out their games to such massive levels these days with so much filler. Maybe it was always this way, but boy does it feel like it's getting worse...

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: 100 hours... sigh... Next...

      I'm not sure it is 100 hours, just a guesstimate. I have continued to play because I'd like to get to the end before I pick something else up, and it feels like I'm moving into the ending... possibly. I was alarmed when a friend said "sounds like you're about 80% through". Similar sitch here with two kids – my strategy is a lot of late nights. Not everyone can do it :)

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