Death Stranding
Official PlayStation Magazine - UK Edition|Christmas 2019
Sometimes a man’s just got to take a strand
Oscar Taylor-Kent

Sam Porter Bridges might be the name of Norman Reedus’ Solid-Snake-like gruff lead, but after we’ve strapped a ladder to each of his limbs he might as well be known as Ladderman – in keeping with the codenames afforded to the rest of the supporting cast.

Our ladder-strapped arms and legs don’t allow us to zip around the post-apocalyptic landscapes Doc-Ock-style, but they do afford us a certain mastery over the realistically designed environments. Most of the game revolves around Sam having to deliver packages from one point on a map to another (and mostly on foot, thanks to its unkind terrain).

Unlike in open worlds like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s, where you can sprint easily across Greece, every route you take in Death Stranding has to be carefully considered. It’s fantastic that the open world’s very existence is a key part of the game, rather than it just being somewhere you go to travel between missions. Death Stranding’s one of the few games we’ve played where a river has caused us to stop and nervously consider our options.


In the wake of an incident called the Death Stranding (a series of ‘voidouts’ which instantly destroyed large sections of the country and began to break down the barriers between the world of the living and the world of the dead), survivors have been isolating themselves, losing the benefits of collaboration and of belonging to a larger, more involved civilisation and so hastening humanity’s extinction.

Bridges is an organisation of the United Cities Of America, and it’s enlisted Sam to join settlements together as part of its ‘chiral network’. A prior UCA expedition laid the foundation for the network, but Sam finds himself going solo as he follows in its footsteps, thanks to a terrorist attack he witnesses wiping out Central Knot City, and with it the second expedition team. To make matters worse, his adoptive sister Amelie, who led the first expedition, is now trapped in the far west in Edge Knot City, where terrorists are keeping her from leaving. Despite being previously ousted from the organisation, Sam feels it’s his duty to pick up the torch and rescue Amelie in honour of their relationship, and the wishes of their dying mother (who also happens to be the American President).

Sam is perfectly suited to the task because he has a DOOMs mutation, which has manifested in some people since the Death Stranding. This means he can sense Beached Things (BTs), the lingering, ghostly forms of the deceased, who are still attached to our world despite also existing on The Beach (a sort of limbo between the world of the living and what’s past it). Desperate for connection, these creatures will drag away humans they manage to touch, causing more voidouts. They manifest along with Timefall, a frequent rain that tears across the environment, rapidly ageing anything it touches, from human skin to plants.


Unlike some other people with DOOMs, Sam can only sense when BTs are nearby and isn’t able to see them. That’s where Bridge Babies (BBs) come in. Thanks to a maintained connection to their brain-dead mothers, the BBs exist halfway between the world of the living and the dead. Sam carries one such little fella around with him in a clear yellow pod. The Bridge Baby is able to connect to Sam through the Odradek Terrain Sensor and intermittently reveal outlines of the weird, floating BTs. Thanks to that, Sam can stay out of the way of their inky hands and the ghoulish umbilical cords that tether them to the Earth. As long as his BB remains happy, that is. Take too many tumbles without soothing the distressed baby and it becomes toxic, needing to be plugged back in at a distribution centre to be pacified. If that happens, you might find yourself deep in BT territory with no lifeline, which is genuinely nerve-wracking.

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