Death Stranding is Already One of My Favorite Games of All-Time
Death Stranding's pre-release cycle has led to some of the purest joy I've had in regards to gaming in recent years.
I haven’t played a single second of Death Stranding. Heck, outside of those with special clearance at Kojima Productions, I don’t know if anyone really has. But despite the fact that I’m still left with more questions than answers about Hideo Kojima’s upcoming PS4-exclusive release, I think it’s safe to say that it has already become one of my favorite video games ever made.
This isn’t something I say lightly or to be controversial (if you could even call it that), either. I’ve been following the video games industry ever since I was a kid and in that entire span of time, no game has ever brought me more pure joy and happiness than that of Death Stranding prior to arrival. There are other games I’ve likely been more excited to play, or others I’ve looked forward to getting my hands on more come release, but none of them have even come close to eliciting the same response from me ahead of launch like Death Stranding has.
Since its first reveal trailer back at E3 2016 to the most recent gameplay presentation we saw that contained a Geoff Keighley cameo and some intense peeing gameplay, Death Stranding has continued to be the game that just keeps on delivering in the best ways possible. For over three years now, I have continued to convince myself that this game couldn’t possibly be any more bizarre or offbeat than what we’ve seen so far, only to then be immediately proven wrong. And while many have been left scratching their heads in confusion every time we see something strange appear in this game, for me, I just end up laughing uncontrollably at what is shown.
If you have been around me at any point when Sony and Kojima Productions debut something new from Death Stranding, you’ve likely been exposed to me straight up cackling. If you ask anyone who works here at DualShockers what my response was yesterday when we all gathered around to watch the gameplay reveal during Gamescom Opening Night Live, they’ll all tell you that I legitimately laughed throughout the game’s entire presentation. It’s not because I think Death Stranding looks bad, either, but more just because nothing that is being shown makes the slightest bit of sense.
Death Stranding is, perhaps unintentionally, one of the great comedic pieces of art in our time. I know that Hideo Kojima and those at Kojima Productions are trying to create a new world that tells a serious narrative, but everything we’ve seen of it so far has looked so bonkers that I can’t really take it seriously at this present time. Maybe once I play the game sequentially, I’ll be able to actually ingrain myself in the world and understand it a but more. But for now, when you just randomly show me snippets of the game that include Norman Reedus being naked near a crater or Guillermo del Toro scurrying around while carrying a baby in a strange device, I’m just going to end up thinking it’s funny.
Some of this wackiness is definitely on purpose, too. As much as we like to think of Hideo Kojima as some auteur, he’s also a goofball. I mean, he named a character in Death Stranding Die-Hardman for goodness sake. The Metal Gear Solid franchise was always wacky in its own right, too, but it was consistently able to balance that zaniness with high-stakes drama that you could become invested in. Death Stranding will probably try to strike this same balance, but its story beats are just much funnier when seen out of context compared to Metal Gear.
What’s even funnier about me already saying that Death Stranding is one of my favorite games ever is that I don’t even know how I’m going to feel once I play the final product. As much as it made me chuckle to see that you could freely pee wherever you want with your character in the game, the rest of the gameplay that we have seen so far has looked incredibly bland. We’re less than three months away from launch and the only substantial gameplay we’ve seen has included peeing, climbing a ladder, hitting enemies with a briefcase, and delivering packages. I have hope that the full game will be more fun than what has been shown already, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have doubts about how it’ll turn out.
Still, I can’t deny just how fun the process has been leading up to release for Death Stranding. In a time where the hype and marketing cycles for most games have become rather mundane, Death Stranding has been a consistent source of enjoyment over the years that I never expected. In fact, I’m actually a bit sad that we’re nearing release so quickly. I’d almost rather have a few more years worth of odd trailers that I then get to talk about and analyze with friends before the game finally hits store shelves.
Death Stranding could launch later this year on November 8 and be an absolute disaster, and I’m probably still going to love it all the same. The journey to this game’s release likely won’t match up whatsoever with what Death Stranding actually is and I think I’m okay with that. Whether or not the final product is great or terrible is pretty much moot for me, as Death Stranding has already delivered far more enjoyment for me over the years than most video games ever have. And because of that, I think I’m always going to love this strange, baby-swallowing, pee weaponizing video game despite how it actually turns out.