WARNING: This post contains spoilers, read at your own risk!
By the time you’re reading this, Death Stranding has been out for nearly a month and I’m sure many of you have already finished the game. I haven’t had much time to play lately and I am digesting the game in extremely small chunks, yet it still ceases to amaze me as I delve deeper and deeper into the game. The graphics, even on a measly old plain-jane PS4, are outstanding and the story itself is spectacular. It’s definitely out there in terms of normalness, but that’s what makes it so unique and amazing. Kojima created an absolute masterpiece with DS, and I wanted to take the time to breakdown the few episodes that I have been able to get through so far.
The game starts with a decently long cutscene that is broken into two parts as you begin your first order. The main thing I noticed here was that these cutscenes were almost movie quality. Absolutely breathtaking and almost making me want to just watch the entirety of this game be played out rather than playing it myself. Alas, it is not a movie and you do finally get to play after what seemed like a feature-length film had transpired. From here you finally get to continue your order down to one of the major cities that is still standing within the United States, Central Knot City. This triggers yet another cutscene that eventually leads to Sam’s death and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. This is where the game truly begins to get interesting though.
Episode 1: Bridget
Sam awakens from death to begin this episode and you meet one of the most intriguing characters of this game, Deadman. He briefly explains some things to you before sending you out on your next mission, which is to save the president’s life. However, upon your return, you find out what Sam was sent out for actually cannot save the president’s life, and you also find out that the president is Sam’s mother. She rather quickly dies (was not expecting her to only make it 30 minutes into the game lol) and you’re thrust the responsibility of taking her body to the incinerator to avoid a similar explosion to what killed Sam in the last cutscene of the prologue. To skip ahead, this aspect of the game is absolutely insane but I love it so much. The fact you cant just sneaky kill everyone or everything in this game adds a whole new perspective to gaming. The fact that your actions have actual repercussions and can cause much more harm than good adds a masterful spin to the experience that is Death Stranding. Anyways, back to episode 1. As you make your way to the incinerator you’re taught some of the basics of the game (this never really ends either from what I can tell, there is always something new being added into the play!) and you begin to wonder when those pesky black tar monsters from the trailer come into play. Well, be careful what you wish for because they show up the second you burn the body and Sam is tasked with escaping through a field of them to get back to Central Knot.
Episode 2: Amelie
After holding your breath and having the most extreme case of anxiety from the field of BT’s (Beached Things, which is what the tar monsters end up being called), you finally get to dive deep into the world of Death Stranding. You learn that the President’s daughter and Sam’s sister, Amelie, is being held hostage across the country. This episode also opens up a larger chunk of the world while also allowing you to tackle more orders, which in turn gets you more gear and things that benefit Sam and his environment. Now, not all orders are necessary to complete, but I tend to complete as many as possible without going too far out of Sam’s way to level him up. Some just make no sense to do as they would take him in the wrong direction and cause tons of extra hours of playtime in the game. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love having that extra playtime. But as someone who doesn’t have loads of spare time to play at the moment, I am focusing on the main purpose for my first playthrough.
This episode sends you all over the map, however, and you eventually find yourself down in Port Knot City where you encounter the main villain of Kojima’s story, Higgs. You don’t learn too much about him here, but as he leaves Port Knot he drops off a little gift for Sam, and by gift I mean a towering tar octopus monster that wants to eat your face off. You quickly learn that your best offense here is a great defense because getting hit by this thing depletes your health at a rapid clip. So you will want to stay on higher ground and toss as many grenades as your little heart can until this monstrous beast sinks back into its home made of tar. From here you meet back up with Fragile and make your way across a body of water and over to Lake Knot City where Episode 3 begins.
Episode 3: Fragile
This chapter, as most do going forward, provides much more detail about the characters they are based on. As sam and Fragile talk, you learn that she was duped by Higgs herself a while back and that led to one of the massive void outs that eliminated one of the UCA’s cities completely off the map. As the chapter proceeds, you learn more and more about her while also learning a ton about Sam. You also start figuring out more about the game, like how to build roads and sneak through MULE camps undetected. Along with all of this, you also see just how many storylines Kojima put into this game with all of the backstories interspersed throughout the main quest. As you slowly make your way south through this bit of land, you will find yourself unlocking loads of new items (Bola gun, Floating carriers, and even safe houses). The story eventually leads you to the destruction of an antimatter bomb, which apparently can just be submerged in a lake of tar, and the delivery of some provisions which help stock South Knot City. But, just as Sam begins to think everything is fine and dandy, some strange electrical, chiral storm tornado rolls into town and sweeps us into episode 4.
Episode 4: Unger
This chapter was the first to deviate from the story so far by a longshot. After the tornado hits the distribution center we are placed in a small cutscene that introduces the “combat veteran,” who you will find out later is Unger. Sam is then dropped right into the thick of what appears to be WWI. You will quickly notice that all of your gear, some new assault rifles, grenades, and shotguns are littering the battlefield in front of you, and I highly suggest you start stocking up as you sprint towards safety. I also suggest being careful here as you can get hit by bullets, grenades, and tanks (which I learned the hard way). Sam will make his way through the ghostly battle and find himself in the trenches, which is where you meet Unger. He, of course, has creepy zombie tar soldiers with him, so you will need to take a bunch of them out as you attempt to kill the grizzled combat vet. You will need to knock him down three (maybe four) times, which ultimately isn’t all that hard once you get the hang of the guns. The second you knock him that last time another cutscene will trigger and Sam finds himself back in the real world. To his surprise, he was only gone for a second or two, even though the battle he just lived through took much longer to transpire. Everyone but Sam basically brushes this off though, and he begins his trek to episode 5 and Mama’s lab.
Thanks for reading. Unfortunately, I haven’t really gotten too far past episode 4. I will be writing two to three more of these as I make my way through the story, so be on the lookout for those soon. In the meantime, be sure to go check out all of our other gaming, podcast, and movie reviews.