PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5 | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
One of the most divisive releases of recent years, Death Stranding is an absolute nightmare of a game to try to explain. Set in the United States in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event that has decimated the population, you take the role of Sam, a courier who finds himself on a mission to rebuild the country by delivering cargo and creating a comms network between the handful of settlements that still exist. There's no getting away from the fact that the majority of the gameplay involves trekking across unwieldy terrain to either collect or deliver things, but there's so much more to it than the game's reputation as a “postman simulator” suggests - ethereal entities, militant extremists,a broken barrier between life and death, wacky sci-fi gizmos and gadgets and a completely off the wall yet immediately engrossing story brought to life by digitised versions of established actors (among them, The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus, Bond girl Léa Seydoux and the Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner) and celebrity cameos combine to make Death Stranding a totally unique experience.
Two years after its initial release, the new Death Stranding Director's Cut introduces a variety of gameplay improvements, graphical enhancements and additional bells and whistles designed to make the most of the PS5's fancy hardware. The DualSense controller clicks, churns and rumbles away as Sam slips, slides and stumbles across the barren wastelands, and its adaptive triggers add subtle yet noticeable nuances to each of his gadgets and weapons – OK so maybe these aren't major selling points, but being able to feel the differences between each weapon certainly increases the general feeling of immersion. The 4K overhaul also provides a massive boost – the original game was stunning enough, but the Director's Cut shows us everything in near photorealistic quality to the point where you'll often find yourself stopping in the middle of nowhere to soak in the breathtaking scenery. On the gameplay front, new gadgets and vehicles make your deliveries a little bit easier (and more fun), there are new areas to explore and missions to complete, certain storylines have been expanded, a racetrack has been added, and the unintrusive multiplayer aspect has seen a handful of tweaks and changes that make for a slightly less isolating experience than what was found in the original game.
For all its new additions, Death Stranding is still an extremely eccentric (and some might say slightly pretentious) game, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Trudging across unwieldy landscapes for hours on end might not be everyone's cup of tea but, if the gameplay and mind-bending story manage to sink their claws into you, there's every chance you won't be able to stop thinking about it for weeks on end.