Death Stranding is a long game requiring a certain amount of patience. It’s broken up into episodes, but they aren’t great indicators of progress.
The most recent outing from visionary game director Hideo Kojima is 2019’s Death Stranding. The game became notorious for its divisiveness, as some found the idea of a video game entirely centered around delivering packages to be absurd, but others considered it revolutionary and game of the year material. A little over a year after its PS4 launch, and now on PC, it remains to be seen just how influential Death Stranding will be to future game development. Differing opinions remain concerning Death Stranding, but one thing everyone can agree on is that the game takes quite a long time to complete.
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Death Stranding includes a prologue before being broken up into 14 subsequent episodes. Playing through the entire game might take someone upwards of 50 or 60 hours. Achieving 100% completion during or after beating Death Stranding has the potential to double that play time. 50 hours is a long time to ask someone to commit to gameplay that consists of mainly walking, thus the frequent claims that players found it to be too boring. It is certainly not for everyone, but it’s undeniable that Kojima took a step into uncharted territory when developing Death Stranding.
In typical Kojima narrative fashion, the story of Death Stranding is long, winding, and confusing. The characters and game universe are incredibly weird and often nonsensical. However, if players can stick it out and see the journey of Sam Porter Bridges (portrayed by Hollywood actor Norman Reedus) through to the end, they might find it well worth the mileage. The gameplay is surprisingly deep, turning Death Stranding into a sort of constant locomotive puzzle, and elements are constantly added throughout the entire game, making players adapt the strategies they’ve been previously using.
Death Stranding’s Episodes Are Not Consistent Progress Markers
Although the game is broken up into episodes, with each one being named after a character featured heavily in that specific episode, few of them are equal in length. Death Stranding, more than anything, takes its time. The plot is drawn out, the distances that need to be covered on foot are vast, and new gameplay mechanics are introduced steadily throughout an entire playthrough. The prologue is little more than a handful of cutscenes and the game teaching players how to walk (which is surprisingly difficult). The first two episodes follow suit, building the narrative and slowly introducing the player to all of the traversal techniques available to them.
Many seasoned Death Stranding players would actually advise newcomers to power through the first two episodes as quickly as possible. While the foundation of the story is important, the gameplay does not really open up and show its full potential until Episode 3. The third episode is one of the longest in Death Stranding and really shows the player what the game is all about. There are multiple locations to discover, all which need various deliveries taken to and from them, and Sam’s arsenal of tools is rapidly expanded with a much greater opportunity for player freedom. The difference in length from Death Stranding’s Episodes 2 to 3 is significant, and shows the player that the PlayStation Trophies attained for completing each episode aren’t the most reliable progression tracker.
Finishing Episode 7 may technically mark the middle of the game, but keeping an eye on the save file’s playtime is a much more reliable way to keep track of how much game is left. Though some find the methodical gameplay and cargo management unpalatable, others have fallen victim to the wholly unique experience that is Death Stranding. Embarking on Sam’s trek across America may at first be a test of patience, but players may soon find that they’ve summited a mountain and climbed through waist-high snow drifts for the sake of a delivery, and are now completely engaged with a twenty minute cutscene of Sam speaking to a man who dies and resuscitates himself 60 times a day in an attempt to find and bring back his dead family from a mysterious place called the Beach.
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