When the world was finally presented with Death Stranding, no one was prepared for what it actually was. For some, it was a mere walking simulator, living in the shadow of Hideo Kojima’s legacy. In contrast to this, many found this post-apocalyptic struggle to be profound and groundbreaking, facilitating a completely unique gaming experience. Regardless of divided opinion, Death Stranding is the most intriguing game of this generation – now granting a right of passage to PC gamers to explore and trek across its treacherous hills and valleys.
Despite being set in a morbid dystopia of death and decay, Death Stranding contains one of the most luscious landscapes in video game history. The rocky green hills and fresh flowing streams found within broken America create a truly immersive experience, one that can be enjoyed while enduring the hardships of Sam Porter Bridges as he carries out his courier duties. This breathtaking hiking adventure couldn’t have come to PC at a better time for many of us after this year’s pandemic-induced lockdown has created a yearning need for escapism, especially one that takes us outside.
It’s important not to be fooled by the enticing rural breeze that Death Stranding simulates, especially since this is a game based on the struggles of survival. Most of your experience will revolve around maintaining your footing via the game’s almost-clumsy traversal mechanics, which are imbued with a sense of realism. While I’ve yet to find myself in a position where I need to scale hills with a moving van’s worth of packages clamped to my back, Death Stranding somehow gives me a real sense for what that actually feels like, all while preventing me from breaking my own neck – or even worse, getting out of breath.
Exercise isn’t the only horror lurking within this digital hike, however, as various atrocities are also out to ensure your extinction. With only a strange, telepathic baby suspended in an orange soda like substance for company, you’ll find yourself facing off against an aggressive host of enemies with jargony names. From ominous shadowy creatures known as ‘Beached Things’, to a package pillaging band of bandits known as ‘MULE’, there’s plenty of threat to remind you that you’re not just satisfying your daily step count.
Regardless of how much of a strain the gameplay might be, there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found from traversing broken America on your courier quest. Learning to work with the balancing mechanics and maintain a rhythm will take some getting used to, but it ultimately leads to a strangely therapeutic experience. Upon setting out into the world, a hauntingly mellow soundtrack will begin to accompany your steps, providing you with a sense of calm during a journey that could potentially be stress-inducing.
Speaking of stress, you might think that your hardware will have a stressful time attempting to run Death Stranding PC, yet this doesn’t seem to be the case. While running this picturesque drama in 4K 60fps is the obvious gold standard, the game still looks marvellous when running at 1080p, something that cards even as old as the GTX900 series can seemingly handle without any major issues. The fact that Death Stranding is so well optimised on PC provides an open door for those who want to dive into something different, without being distracted by frame drops.
Once your anxieties about PC performance are quashed and you’ve got to grips with the mechanics, the only thing that might stand in your way is Death Stranding’s elaborate plot. You’ll frequently feel like you’re out the loop during most of the game’s cutscenes, which often feels like you’ve been shoved into the midst of an extremely convoluted TV show with zero conrext, but it’s somehow still entertaining. It’s best to just take all the convoluted terminology and unexplained lore at face value, as it is eventually elaborated upon and built into something coherent later on.
The best advice that can be given before diving into Death Stranding on PC is this – focus on the primary loop. Enjoy the spectacle of the scenery, the satisfying fulfilment of deliveries and the tension created by potential danger on the track. Getting caught up in Death Stranding’s absurd plot, or finding yourself distracted by technicalities only serves to do one thing – distract you from enjoying the journey. After all, how many experiences involve you being a postman in a vibrant world where the rain makes you grow old?
Also, Norman Reedus doesn’t have a peen. That’s very important.