Back in 2019 when Death Stranding was first released, I admit I didn’t give it the time it deserved. My life was so busy, bustling, non stop in fact and I lost my passion for gaming. But as 2020 came around, and the whole world was hit with the catastrophic pandemic, everything came to a stand still. Life became quiet and disconnected, and there was endless free time. In this period, my mind went back to Death Stranding, and the comparisons between this certain video game and the reality we live in became very clear, scarily clear truth be told. As countries around the world began to close down, and people were told to separate from their loved ones to attempt to halt the rapidness of Covid-19, all I could think about was the story of Death Stranding. If you’re like me, and you love just putting headphones on and getting lost in a video game, Death Stranding is the perfect game for this. Because of how ‘lonely’ the in game world can be, and because of how lonely the in reality lockdown was, it really draws a parallel and feels so safe and relatable, even if it is just a video game to some.
Spoilers ahead for the game.
You play as Sam Porter Bridges, and you are given the monumentally huge task of reconnecting America. The giant void-out of Death Stranding caused the country to divide, meaning the people living there were also divided and cut off from each other, sounds familiar huh?
As you travel around America, you are met with a eerily peaceful environment. The stillness of the world Kojima has imagined and created is one of the greatest I have ever experienced, and I can say that with full confidence. I have played a lot of open world games but none come close to Death Stranding. This game really makes me feel at peace, and safe, which may sound crazy considering the story is about a disconnected country and terrorists, but let me explain.
As you are thrusted into each mission, especially earlier on in the games chapters, you have to walk and carry all of your cargo. The environmental aspects of the game can be cruel at times, giant cliffs, dangerously fast flowing water, rocks galore, but even with all this, it still manages to instil a real sense of calm. As you are walking across the world, you only have yourself and your BB for company, and considering BB doesn’t actually talk, you’re met with a lot of silence. This silence gives you time to think, time to reflect, and mentally the walking aspect of this game really helped me clear my mind of any anxieties and stress I was having at the time.
Every now and again you will be met with a stunning OST, which always kicks it as the perfect times. Say you’re finally a top of giant mountain you’ve traversed up, and a beautiful piece of music will start playing, just subtle enough for you to hear, but not enough to take you out of the experience, it’s honestly one of my favourite parts of Death Stranding.
Sam is entrusted with many different examples of cargo, be it life saving medicines, spare mechanical parts, hell even a pizza, but every act of delivering and reconnecting helps to forge ties and build bridges. It brings people together, in a sense of harmony, which I think the real world could learn a lot from. A small act of kindness, in this case, in the form of a cargo delivery, goes a long long way and helps rebuild trust within the people, and what can be more rewarding than helping others in a time of crisis?
I adore Death Stranding, and after now really experiencing the game and story for myself, I can say it is one of my favourite games I’ve ever played, which again feels pretty big as I said previous, I’ve been gaming since the 90’s, I’ve played my fair share. My only regret is that I didn’t give this game the love and attention it deserved on its launch, but the pandemic of 2020 really did help me reconnect with my love for gaming and reconnect with my own feelings.
Death Stranding taught me it is okay to be alone sometimes, and you can feel safe and fulfilled in your own company. It taught me the importance of reconnecting, whether that be to yourself, friends, family, work colleagues, pets, anyone you want to connect with. It taught me the power of disconnecting and essentially recharging. I used to spend a hell of a lot of time endlessly scrolling through social media, learning nothing and constantly comparing my journey to other people’s, this is not healthy, but Death Stranding also taught me the power of disconnecting and just being alone, and feeling okay with being alone.
It’s amazing how a video game has given me the essential advice and tools I need for my own reality, to ensure I feel okay and safe in my own mind, but know I can reach out and connect with others for help if I need the help.
If you’re yet to play Death Stranding, I really cannot recommend it enough. It was met with an abundance of mixed reviews on its release, and yes I will admit sometimes the gameplay mechanics can be a little messy and frustrating, but the life lessons I gained from this experience totally outmatched the sometimes buggy gameplay, and I hope you too feel enlightened by this gaming masterpiece.