Ludvig Forssell
Death Stranding


4.5
superb

Review

by Simon STAFF
November 15th, 2019 | 121 replies


Release Date: 11/08/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An epic journey that's worth every second of your time.

Death Stranding is inarguably the biggest game of the year – arguably of the decade. When it was first announced way back in 2016 the project was an enigma; shrouded in its obscurity, drenched in oppressively breathtaking sci-fi visuals, and leaving millions to speculate on what the hell it was all about. Fast-forward to November 15th, 2019, and the game has caused a contentious divide amongst gamers. This is largely down to one aspect of Death Stranding: its gameplay. Getting down to brass-tacks, it’s essentially a walking simulator that has your player character delivering packages which range from trivial trinkets right up to nuclear weapons. You take these parcels across all terrane, through every element and weather condition, using simple yet effective tools, such as ladders and ropes, to get you to your destination. Trudging through a sprawling, post-apocalyptic world that makes you feel every hardship this dystopian world has to offer; basically, the game wants to break you. As such, despite the fact the game has moments for gunplay to come to the forefront, Death Stranding sits on a slow boil and puts you in the boots of a glorified postman. And I’m not going to pull the wool over any of your eyes; when you take away the expertly crafted story, gorgeous graphics, phenomenal score and excellently implemented and idiosyncratic multiplayer elements – ones that have you helping your fellow player succeed by crafting items for them to discover in the world, or liking something they’ve contributed to it – what you’re left with is a dead husk in the way of actual gameplay. And I just can’t justify the terrible pacing issues, lazy missions, horrendous backtracking, or the mind-numbingly repetitive fetch quests that feel like side missions than story missions with proper weight because of it.

With that said, we’re here, now, to talk about the incredible score – and a weird one to review since I’m going to be tackling a number of sources for this game. Death Stranding is a collection of pre-existing songs from artists such as Low Roar, originally composed tracks made just for the game, ala Chvrches, and a staggering, synthed-out score composed by Ludvig Forssell. I could review one part in particular but I think that would miss the point of what the game is fervently trying to convey, which is that it’s about people coming together to form a greater whole – to make something with tangible meaning and weight to it as a collective – and I feel all who contributed to this game did a tremendous job in bringing this game world to life.

I

The purpose of these tracks was clearly implemented to add a human element to the overall experience; to really dig into your soul and find yourself while you were playing the game. I’ll say straight off the bat, the most effective pieces in the game come from Low Roar’s melancholic folk-rock pieces that disrupt the contemplative silences: the lamenting cries that come from “Breath In” (found on Low Roar’s 0 LP) bring an unprecedented emotional response out of the player, or at least out of me. The inclusion of Low Roar is simply a masterstroke, as their sound seems to fit the bleak game world harmoniously. It’s like a symbiotic relationship; both parties seem to co-exist with one another and the combination is like nothing else. When one of their songs disrupts the silence in gameplay it’s like being hit with a sledgehammer, commanding your attention as it lethargically smothers the world you’re absorbed in. The likes of “Because We Have To”’s (found on Low Roar’s Low Roar LP) haunting guitar lines and Ryan’s transparent vocal works evoke a spiritual mystic that can’t be denied and works flawlessly, elevating the game to unprecedented levels. “Asylums for the Feeling” (found on Silent Poets’ dawn album) is another one which hits the desolate anguish Death Stranding pertains to, intensifying the deeply flawed problems humanity has been going through since the dawn of time with the utmost of convictions. In spite of the fact these songs weren’t written for Death Stranding, if I had to pick a collection of tracks that moved me the most, it would probably come from this compilation tracklist, because the effectiveness of each song was so drawing and beautiful.

II

As if the Low Roar tracks weren’t enough to bring a waterfall’s worth of emotional dolour to the table, Ludvig’s low-key score brings the same amount of melancholy to the fray, but is a reactionary counter-attack to the aforementioned – being more in tune with the sci-fi setting the game is based in. Tracks like “Once There Was an Explosion” matches the same emotional scale of what Low Roar or Silent Poets’ song choices do, but the delivery has a more sterile and phlegmatic disposition. It’s a collection of orchestrated pieces mixed with drone and 80s Blade Runner-esque synth work. The likes of “Cargo High”, “Demens” and “Mules” have that contemporary, aggressive whirring-synth backdrop over booming percussion, while “A Final Waltz” and “An Endless Beach” partner up in the tracklisting as being the epic orchestrations. But it’s the ethereal ambiguity of “The Timefall” and “Chiralium” that bring the most emotive and engaging listens from the record.

III

The last tracklist is what I’d call the hip, young artist promotional offering for the game. Certainly the weakest offering of the bunch, but by no means a bad one. It suffers from your usual radio pop songwriting, but the eclectic lineup brings enough to the table to warrant a solid listen. Bring Me The Horizon’s hodgepodge of sounds for “Ludens” was the sonic equivalent of a patchwork quilt when I first heard it, but upon repeated listens it draws in a pretty celebratory sound for the band and utilises several different aspects from their career and puts them into one track. “Trigger” combines derivative pop traits with spacey, cavernous synth work, while “Ghost” merges trap beats with a pretty memorable set of hooks to sink you into it. The Neighbourhood’s “Yellow Box” is easily the best offering of the bunch and offers minimalist ambience with a Chino Moreno style vocal performance, and “Sing to Me” closes the album off strongly with a Twenty One Pilot’s inspired rock number.

0

Regardless of which section floats your boat the most, this is an exceptional body of work that proves Hideo Kojima knows and loves all walks of music. This is a sprawling and diverse ride that always manages to cling onto the coat-tails of consistency and a repeated mood. If you listen to all of these chapters at once (like I did), it provides a wealth of entertainment that will hold your interest right up until the end. But I think the biggest takeaway from this is that this compilation offers a reference of bands and artists to check out if you’ve never heard of them before – which is a wonderful thing. The gameplay to Death Stranding might have been a miserable experience for me (and an experience I’m still debating was intentional by Kojima), but at the very least I got an exceptionally told storyline and one hell of a compilation soundtrack to walk away with.



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user ratings (16)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2019


15862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I occasionally do weird formats like this. I hope people enjoy the read.



I love the music to this game.

Source
November 15th 2019


14885 Comments


heard this game was a walking simulator

YungEarnYourStripes
November 15th 2019


45 Comments


Every time I watch a stream of this game I am just bored to tears. Would rather have Kojima make a movie at this point since the cutscenes are way more fun to watch than the game is to play.

JakeStallion
November 16th 2019


498 Comments


Disagree on the gameplay front as I find it quite engaging and rewarding. Traversing the world feels like one giant puzzle to me. That being said, excellent review and though I'm not finished with the game yet, the music has definitely been a highlight for me. The mix of licensed tracks and the original score is just sublime and adds so much to the game's atmosphere.

Veldin
November 16th 2019


3890 Comments


You're gonna be bored watching other people play it, because it's incredibly personal experience

iambandersnatch
November 16th 2019


1836 Comments


boring walking sim, i agree w/ previous poster they should have just made it a movie, it having gameplay is pointless

EyesWideShut
November 16th 2019


5202 Comments


Deus Ex was a clossic

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


15862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, for people that are on the fence on whether to buy this, i fully recommend enjoying the story via a youtube compilation. the story is so damn good, it'd be a shame to miss out on.

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments


Yeah watching the game makes no sense, since the entertainment is in the moment to moment control of the character. You can't watch the mechanics at work, you have to feel them.

The game has more gameplay depth and mechanics than most action games. If you ever played God of War or Uncharted or The Last of Us or that new Star Wars game and didn't complain about them despite all the traversal in those games literally playing themselves, you have no high ground to mock Death Stranding from.

YungEarnYourStripes
November 16th 2019


45 Comments


I get where you're coming from Gall, there are plenty of games that I have enjoyed where the gameplay loop can be incredibly mundane. Just look at a bunch of survival games, for example. However, I just haven't been able to say I'm enjoying the actual gameplay here. I get what the game is going for, but personally I'm not into it yet.

GrandpaFred
November 16th 2019


11 Comments


RDR2 wipes the floor with this.

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments


RDR2 is literally a game that plays itself. If ANY game should be compared to film, it's that one. Say what you will about Death Stranding, it requires gameplay focus 100% of the time. Red Dead 2? Literally has a "i don't want to touch the controller anymore" button.

GrandpaFred
November 16th 2019


11 Comments


Yeah, but I like it.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


15862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i'll be the dude that says both games are supremely dull. i think the biggest problem i have with them is their mechanics are too realistic for my taste. a personal preference, to be sure, but i dont find them fun to play at all.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


15862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

that said, both games have unprecedentedly immersive worlds with a great story, so its a double-edged sword

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments


The realism of both games are my favourite parts. RDR2 is ruined by its garbage combat and mission structure. Death Stranding isn't ruined by anything so far, I fucking love it.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


15862 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, i think thats the make-or-break for a lot of people in all honesty. i play games to have fun; having realistic mechanics like the ones in rd2 and this just buzzkill it for me. it also doesnt help that i dont have a lot of time to enjoy games like i did when i was a kid, so i just want to progress at a solid pace whilst having fun. the problem in my eyes is that theres so much fluff in these games that doesnt need to be there, and little option for people that just want to get on with the story if they choose to.



of course, i completely disagree with you there gallantin. its like the pot calling the kettle black when both games have poor combat and mission structure. i dont know how far you are in death stranding, but the snow sections have some of the worst mission design i think ive ever played in a game.

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments


Fun counter: the snow sections are my FAVOURITE bits of Death Stranding so far

And RDR2's combat and mission structure are completely different from Death Stranding's so it's not really like I'm being unreasonable. The games are set up differently and RDR2's open world is at odds with its mission and story design. Death Stranding's open world is in harmony with its mission and story design.

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments


If you don't like DS's missions then yea whatever but it's not inconsistent with how its world and its story relate to one another. RDR2 is the definition of inconsistent world and mission cohesion.

Sinternet
November 16th 2019


21142 Comments


i like how ten years ago "Gamers" wanted their shit to be taken seriously as an art form, but now whenever someone tries something different they moan that it's boring

Digging: Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.



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