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What the critics are saying about Death Stranding

Can you believe we're finally here? After years of enigmatic trailers and Hideo Kojima's celebrity selfies, reviews for Death Stranding are now live. And they are, to say it in a word, mixed.

Some feel this is a game that got away from its creator, perhaps leaning a bit too much into its mystery. Others feel this is exactly what Hideo Kojima is known for, so it's fine. The scores for Kojima's latest project are all over the place, but there are some areas where most critics agree. So let's dive into the aspects of Death Stranding where those who reviewed the game found some common ground. You might not necessarily agree when you get a chance to play it yourself, but you'll know where some people stand in the meantime.

The 'strands' concept is interesting

The most revolutionary bit of Death Stranding might be the quasi-online system that either borrows from or inspired the game's name. The "Strand" system essentially makes you feel as though you're traversing the world with fellow deliverymen, even though you're not. You don't see other versions of Sam Bridges out in the wild, climbing a mountain in order to deliver a package. Instead, you see the remnants of their travels. You see the zipline structures they built, and the roads they paved. And you can use them to make your own journey a little easier.

According to Game Informer, "Death Stranding's online connectivity is one of the game's strengths, not only because other real-life players add useful items like ladders and warning signs to your world, but because it achieves what it tries to do: It creates bonds. I liked knowing I was helping others when I erected a bridge or anchored a rope at a key location, and enjoyed giving others praise for their efforts via the like system." And the critic for IGN wrote, "I was particularly inspired by the cooperative way you can build, customise, and maintain structures like bridges and watchtowers," apparently enjoying the way players came together to help one another, even though they'd never met face to face.

The cast in Death Stranding is great

If you can say nothing else of Death Stranding, you have to admit: Kojima Productions went all out on the cast. Norman Reedus is the main protagonist, getting a do-over after his other Kojima project, Silent Hills, fell through. But you'll find quite a few big names are joining Reedus, as well.

Eurogamer wrote: "[Margaret] Qualley adds a much-needed note of relatable humanity; [Léa] Seydoux does her best with a faintly icky characterisation. Reedus does the gruff everyman thing well enough and his compact physicality really grounds Sam as an avatar. [Guillermo] Del Toro, the acclaimed Mexican film director and connoisseur of pop-culture weirdness, seems to be having the most fun with this nonsense, and is a lively presence throughout."

And EGM's reviewer heaped praise onto the cast, noting, "There isn't a single major character that I didn't love, that doesn't play an important part in the narrative, or who feels like a one-dimensional trope."

Death Stranding's story still doesn't make much sense

If you know Hideo Kojima video games, this one may not come as a shock. That crazy looking story we've all been trying to understand through the many trailers released these past few years? As it turns out, the team at Kojima Productions wasn't necessarily trying to keep the mystery intact. The narrative actually is that hard to follow.

Eurogamer spoke of how it appreciated Death Stranding's overarching message of connecting others, but "Sadly, it gets lost in a froth of stoned-undergrad-grade existential waffle towards the end of the game, as Kojima strains unsuccessfully to make something meaningful of his nonsensical story and garbled lore."

Clearly, Eurogamer thinks the story is something that will actually put people off of the game, rather than attract people to it. Yet EGM's reviewer looked at that same bonkers story and saw it as a positive rather than a negative, writing, "If there's one part of Death Stranding that I feel has the best chance to work with the widest audience, it's the game's story. Yes, it's deliciously ridiculous, built upon heaps of scientific and historic nonsense, and I wouldn't have it any other way."

It all depends on where you land on the Kojima scale, we suppose. Do you love how off the wall the Metal Gear timeline is? If so, you might be totally fine with the tale Kojima and his team are trying to weave in Death Stranding. If you have no idea why anyone would possibly like a Metal Gear game for its story, well, perhaps you won't like this game that much at all.

Death Stranding comes to PlayStation 4 on Nov. 8.