Death Stranding Director’s Cut Early Impressions
It’s hard to know where to start with Death Stranding. It’s a difficult game to talk about because anything you might care to mention is a spoiler. In the sense that Death Stranding as an experience is one best gone into blind. To know any real detail in advance is to subtract from the experience.
So I suppose in that sense, the best thing I can tell you is: Every time I’ve come to write this impressions piece, I’ve instead wanted to go play some more. (And did so, on several occasions.)
In fact, I’ll do you one better and jump straight to the conclusion: If you’ve not yet had a chance to play Death Stranding, then this month’s humble choice is beyond worthwhile. For this title alone. If you’ve already made a complete playthrough of Death Stranding from an earlier release and are wondering about the Director’s Cut specifically… Well, that’s a trickier question. And one I’m not entirely sure I’m equipped to answer.
The Monster Energy drink promo is gone. That’s a plus. Beyond that…? Well… At the risk of spoiling myself, I took a quick look. And I can tell you that there isn’t a huge new crop of content to go along with this version. The ending doesn’t change. In the main, the story progresses as it did before.
I did get a few more spoilers than I bargained for in looking up the differences between the original game and this director’s cut edition — so I would strongly suggest that you only look up those differences for yourself if you’ve been through the game already.
Alright, but, what can you tell me if I know nothing about Death Stranding at all?
Well… It’s a Hideo Kajima game. Which means it deals with the paranormal and is prone to extended cutscenes. At surface level, it might look simply like ‘the rule of cool’ prevails above all else — but there is generally an underlying theme and answers are ultimately forthcoming.
But before those answers arrive, you will be thoroughly confused.
While not spending time being freshly confused by some new scene, you’ll spend your time in transit from one locale to another, generally loaded up like a packhorse, bringing essential supplies from one locale to another. The action of simply moving from point A to point B is surprisingly satisfying, with weight, momentum, and even how you’ve loaded — i.e., the distribution of weight — all affecting how you move, and proclivity toward taking a faceplant.
There are controls to counter gravity having its way with you, and tools such as climbing spikes (and attached rope) and extendable ladders to further help in crossing difficult terrain. Knowing where you’re going and what you’ll be up against can help greatly in determining what tools to take with you and how much weight you might be able to manage.
You’ll of course unlock more tools and more options as you go, the extent of which may be quite surprising. Although again, to say any more than that would be to my mind, too much of a spoiler.
So moving on from the ‘what’, and into the ‘why’…
I think it’s safe to say that the world as we know it is largely gone. A supernatural event sometime in the game’s recent past has blurred the boundaries between life and death, leading to a fracturing of society. While humanity has ‘survived’, hope is a commodity in short supply. You play as Sam ‘Porter’ Bridges — a man afflicted with (amongst other things), aphenphosmphobia — or the fear of being touched, or touching others. An element which plays into the game’s overall themes of isolation and connectivity.
At both a societal, and personal, level — connections need to be re-established, to begin the effort of repairing what has become broken.
It’s a long game to commit to though, with the average time to beat the main story (no extras at all) being 37 hours. A more completionist play style lasting ~110 hours. So if you’d like a bit more detail than I’ve gone into — still without spoilers — take a look at Endgame Viable’s initial impressions of the initial PS4 Death Stranding release.
Otherwise, let me iterate again — that if you’ve not had the chance to lay your hands on Death Stranding yet; then this alone very much makes this month’s Humble Choice worth the price of admission.
If you happen to be seeing this post on my site around the time of publication, you’ll see I’ve added Death Stranding Director’s Cut to my ‘Currently Playing’ bar. Not something I typically do for these early impressions. I’m very much looking forward to playing more.