Derik Badman's Journal

2019-12-07 08:05

A few days got away from me. After finishing up Letters to a Dead Friend about Zen, I decided to get back to trying zazen again. So I sat for 10 minutes the past two mornings, but then I jumped right into work and never sat down to write. Other than work mostly just... playing Death Stranding still, watching tv.

Death Stranding continues to be both interesting and frustrating. If I weren't playing on easy I would have given up by now. I eventually figured out how to skip some of the little cut scenes, but it takes no less than three button presses to do it, and some of the ones you see regularly (like when going into your "private room" so you can heal, repair vehicles, and restock supplies) has no less than 6 different scenes you have to skip. It's absurd.

The way the game uses actors (some famous enough that I recognize them), is pretty interesting, in that it seems like something we'll be seeing more of. It does make the game a little more movie-like, and that is partly the frustration of the game. There is a story being told through a lot of cut scenes and monologues (the primary character, who you play, hardly talks at all), and the game part of it is mostly travelling from one place to another, dealing with various obstacles: difficult landscapes, bandits, encumbrance issues, time limits, and the creepy death monsters that are mostly invisible until they are right on top of you. The things you do in the game, as far as I can tell, have no bearing at all on the story.

With the game mostly about travelling and, in general, avoiding conflicts with the bandits or the monsters, it is extra weird that there have been two times where it drops you into this other world and suddenly you're playing a combat simulation fighting dead soldiers. It was a jarring change and one that the rest of the game really doesn't prepare you for. Even when you can't avoid fighting the bandits you have to fight them non-lethally (only explained quite a ways into the game) in case the bodies are left lying around and somehow... cause some kind of catastrophic event related to the death monsters and other worlds.

The mythology of the game is interesting, and very focused on death, but also rather underexplained (not sure if that will change as I get to the end). All the main characters have some kind of differing relationship to death: one character is some kind of artificial Frankenstein's monster and thus was never born, one character is constantly dying and coming back to life, the main character can't really die (he goes into this weird watery place and then comes back to life), one character doesn't really die but merges into her twin. It's all pretty crazy, and they all have names like "Dead man" and "Heart man" and "Mama".