video games

Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5 short review: Weird, wild world

Gelo Gonzales
Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5 short review: Weird, wild world

BB. The baby encased in a container helps to detect the game's villains, the BTs

Image from Sony PlayStation blog

In this post-apocalypic America, an encased baby detects enemies while the rain, called timefall, makes anything it touches grow old rapidly

We reviewed Death Stranding when it first came out a few years back. It was our writer Nadine Pacis who did that review though, so I’m coming into the game with fresh eyes. 

Death Stranding, to say the least, was a bit of a polarizing title. It pushed new concepts, gameplay and story-wise that may have alienated those who had expected the game to be some sort of Metal Gear on Mars. The game’s creator Hideo Kojima, even in his Metal Gear games, was not one to shy away from strange and unusual concepts. 

But in Death Stranding, free from the shackles of a franchise as commercially and critically successful as Metal Gear, Kojima really goes all out. Death Stranding is a whole new world to discover. This is an out-of-this-world post-apocalyptic America. Container-encased babies are used to detect enemies; a person explodes like a nuclear bomb after dying, necessitating disposal in non-inhabited areas; the rain, called timefall, makes everything it touches grow old at a much, much faster rate. 

There is certainly a lot to take in, but for the sci-fi fan who thinks they’ve seen it all, well, they haven’t seen Death Stranding. A big part of enjoying the game is letting go of all your preconceived notions of what a post-apocalyptic world is, and just letting the game take the wheel and show you all its strangest corners.

The gameplay is quite the unusual trip as well. A big part of the challenge is the traversal of large and varied swaths of terrain as you deliver cargo from point A to B. But this is the most visceral that walking has felt in a game, and you can feel the difference in elevation in the terrain. Go too fast or lean to one side too much, and you trip, thereby damaging your cargo. Damage it too much, and it’s game over. 

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It only becomes harder when you start encountering the game’s main enemies, the “BTs”. They have to be avoided, so you’ll be forced to traverse in a more creative way as opposed to just doing the straightest, easiest line between point A to B. You stop and hold your character’s breath to avoid detection (they can only spot and attack you when you move). It makes for good tension.

The landscape is pretty too, and also sad because in this post-apocalyptic America, seeing other people is quite the rarity. 

If you missed the game on PS4, now’s a good time to jump in if you have a PS5. You get an improved 4K mode, and DualSense haptic feedback that attempts to simulate how a plot of terrain should feel. The pressure-sensitive DualSense triggers are helpful when traversing too. You press the R2 and L2 buttons to shift the weight if you’re leaning towards one side too much. In the PS5 version, the pressure-sensitive triggers are stiffer when you’re trying to make a big weight shift from one side to another, and lighter when you’re making tinier adjustments. 

Like Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Death Stranding Director’s Cut is the game’s definitive edition. If you haven’t played the original, and are looking for something that would showcase the PS5’s tricks as we wait for the God of War or Horizon sequels, this might be worth considering.

Even now, I don’t think any other game plays like it. It’s wild and experimental like an indie game, but with big-studio production levels, and blessed/cursed with the idiosyncrasies of a Hideo Kojima. For newcomers, as long as you keep an open mind, it’s quite the world to discover. – 

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.