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Quick Look: Early and Late Game Impressions of Death Stranding

Watch along with Alex, Dan, and Abby as they play Death Stranding blind and then after Alex finished the campaign with their lil bb.

Sit back and enjoy as the Giant Bomb team takes an unedited look at the latest video games.

Nov. 7 2019

Cast: Alex, Dan, Abby

Posted by: Abby

In This Episode:

Death Stranding

71 Comments

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bathala

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Edited By bathala  Online

Early impression Dan: sweet innocent boy

Late impression: 🤬😡🤯

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Ett

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In n out look

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Lou_Chou

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Granted I'm not the sharpest tool in the tool thingy, but the way this is being covered so far on the site is a little scattershot and confusing.

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brassmarsh

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Alex's history with Screened is really helpful in articulating Kojima's awful storytelling.

He's great at world-building but everything else is very questionable.

I couldn't finish MGS4 cos he was going on like a teenager thinking he'd just written a masterpiece.

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JuanTopo89

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Cant wait to play this game ! In 2020, on PC, on Sale...

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Tr0n

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End impressions start at 1:01:44

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Sheriffess

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Edited By Sheriffess

This was good fun, listening to their curiosity and banter. I would love a "Bridge Baby" count. Also, many of the baby CGI glimpses inside Norman Reedus and in the tank remind me very much of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" music video.

And Alex, you're adorable as per usual! "Explain yourself, video game!"

Abby, "Yeah... I've got some questions.", "SOME?!" lmao

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infantpipoc

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infantpipoc  Online

@juantopo89: And from the look of it, Epic exclusive it will be.

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conmulligan

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Edited By conmulligan  Online

Dan's early enthusiasm is hilarious in retrospect.

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zinkn

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lol at dan in the beginning of this video all happy and hyped

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conmulligan

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conmulligan  Online

"Uh-oh" — Dan Ryckert

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Osirus128

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Man, I can't wait to see Dan slowly realise this game is an awful, long, boring mess 😂

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Y2Ken

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Dan's smile and optimism; gone.

In all seriousness I really love this style of video - I realise it's not appropriate for a lot of releases but I'd love to see y'all do more of them!

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Marokazam

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I am loving how much Dan is into it before he played it enough to hate it.

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AV_Gamer

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Death Standing is the Too Human of the 2010s decade.

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Wiseblood

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No Caption Provided

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jaypethian

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The most important thing I learnt in this video, is that Abby has a foot fetish.

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infantpipoc

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Opening with a LOW ROAR song titled Don't Be So Serious...Yeah, guess the game is actively telling us "Please do not give any shit about anythinh here, it's all a sick joke anyway".

Cannnot wait to see Sony swift blame again like they did with No Man's Sky.

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Drebin_893

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This was really entertaining. I haven't played a game in six years. Thanks for putting this together Alex, Abby & Dan!

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Justabard

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Holy JESUS man can the first woman you see in a kojima game post the quiet debacle not be named FRAGILE lmfao

I'm still here for whatever this game has but that's almost hilarious

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KnockingNick

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Yeah...I think I'll probably wait until this becomes available on PSN for free, if and when that happens.

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ChrisFlavin

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Everything about the first hour of this game is EXTREMELY what I want.

Just a shame that everything that has been said about the majority of this game is a huge turn off.

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Moth_Pope

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@chrisflavin said:

Everything about the first hour of this game is EXTREMELY what I want.

Just a shame that everything that has been said about the majority of this game is a huge turn off.

I was thinking the exact same thing! Even seeing that opening hour after knowing how much of a let down the main game/gameplay is, it got me excited for how good the game could have been or was leading up to be. I have no interest at all in playing this sadly, but that intro is so strong and one of the most impressive and intriguing story build ups I've seen in long time.

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Edited By kippers  Online

In the first couple of minutes and Dan's gleeful enthusiasm kills me to watch, knowing full well what the future holds for his opinion on this. What a change.

ED: That first hour they play looks fantastic. Exactly what I'd be looking for. A stark contrast to the rest of the game, it seems.

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kevlarkoala

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The best part of Death Stranding was the mystery and the hype. Hot take from someone who hasn't played it.

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Chille92

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@lou_chou: That can probably be chalked up to the conditions of this game's review embargo.

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borealum

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Edited By borealum

@brassmarsh said:

Alex's history with Screened is really helpful in articulating Kojima's awful storytelling.

He's great at world-building but everything else is very questionable.

I couldn't finish MGS4 cos he was going on like a teenager thinking he'd just written a masterpiece.

One of the things I find perversely fascinating about Kojima and his work, is how he's been telling stories for years now - and yet, so frequently, he'll tell what he can show (in a visual medium, no less) while having no faith in his audience to read between the lines. Just ignoring basic tenets on a whim.

I wonder if the near-call-and-response dialogue between Snake Plisskin and whoever-else-in-the-moment in 'Escape From New York' has more of an influence on his work than any of us first suspected - barring the obvious, of course!

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Edited By borealum
@bathala said:

Early impression Dan: sweet innocent boy

Late impression: 🤬😡🤯

Honestly, my heart kind-of breaks for Dan on this one. Rewatching 'Metal Gear Scanlon' recently, his enthusiasm for all things Kojima really is infectious.

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JulmaJuuhan

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@bathala: When I first saw the two (+ 1) quick looks posted of this game, I really didn't get why they did it, but Dan's impressions really justify this one.

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@borealum said:

@brassmarsh said:

Alex's history with Screened is really helpful in articulating Kojima's awful storytelling.

He's great at world-building but everything else is very questionable.

I couldn't finish MGS4 cos he was going on like a teenager thinking he'd just written a masterpiece.

One of the things I find perversely fascinating about Kojima and his work, is how he's been telling stories for years now - and yet, so frequently, he'll tell what he can show (in a visual medium, no less) while having no faith in his audience to read between the lines. Just ignoring basic tenets on a whim.

I wonder if the near-call-and-response dialogue between Snake Plisskin and whoever-else-in-the-moment in 'Escape From New York' has more of an influence on his work than any of us first suspected - barring the obvious, of course!

I found Waypoint's discussion of the game interesting, because they make the point that there are so few big budget games that deal with subtext/metaphor that you could easily give this game a pass for just trying on those fronts even if they ultimately fail in execution. Or at least just appreciate the game for trying to work on multiple levels.

And similarly I wonder if the lack of games attempting heady concepts or symbolic/metaphoric storytelling leads to directors thinking they need to overexplain or simplify those concepts to the audience. It's not like Kojima knows his audience is coming into the game with a deep well of experience dealing with this (though he certainly should have a little more confidence that the audience can deal with it). And you could make similar arguments that games like Bioshock Infinite have gone with similar exposition dumps to over-explain the more complicated pieces of the story.

In general in big budget games there seems to be a tendency to overexplain to make sure nothing gets missed from their grand story, as opposed to leaving gaps to be filled in by the player. And I suspect it comes from the same place of not wanting anyone to miss out on the cool thing they designed, same as creating lots of elements to make sure people will experience as much gameplay as possible. But there has to be better ways of doing it than what we have here.

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What if instead of the Low Roar song at the beginning, it was Roger Miller's "King of the Road"?

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Edited By bybeach

Seeing where it all went with Dan, this was a smart way of doing things. Dan looked so neutral, and in a good mood, when the QL started...

"His chin, at the very least, should be very old"

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ToxicAntidote

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@juantopo89: And from the look of it, Epic exclusive it will be.

Steam, Epic, Origin, UPlay, Rockstar, GOG, Bethesda - no matter which of those, it's on PC.

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No Caption Provided

so at 1:08 they come out of a city and walk right by a Horizon Zero Dawn Dinosaur and don't say a word about it.... Are these two games linked in some way or is this a spoiler so they didn't acknowledge it?

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bruno0091

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@crimsonjester: Just an Easter Egg I'd imagine, given it's built on the HZD engine.

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wallrod

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Cutscenes in kojima games have a really bad problem of the 'very active main character that the action revolves around' player character just standing there staring while very important and/or preventable things happen. It makes for story cutscenes that have no weight or emotion behind them because stupid stuff happens usually for stupid reasons that have nothing to do with how you've been interacting with the game for hours on end.

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@borealum said:

@brassmarsh said:

Alex's history with Screened is really helpful in articulating Kojima's awful storytelling.

He's great at world-building but everything else is very questionable.

I couldn't finish MGS4 cos he was going on like a teenager thinking he'd just written a masterpiece.

One of the things I find perversely fascinating about Kojima and his work, is how he's been telling stories for years now - and yet, so frequently, he'll tell what he can show (in a visual medium, no less) while having no faith in his audience to read between the lines. Just ignoring basic tenets on a whim.

I wonder if the near-call-and-response dialogue between Snake Plisskin and whoever-else-in-the-moment in 'Escape From New York' has more of an influence on his work than any of us first suspected - barring the obvious, of course!

I found Waypoint's discussion of the game interesting, because they make the point that there are so few big budget games that deal with subtext/metaphor that you could easily give this game a pass for just trying on those fronts even if they ultimately fail in execution. Or at least just appreciate the game for trying to work on multiple levels.

And similarly I wonder if the lack of games attempting heady concepts or symbolic/metaphoric storytelling leads to directors thinking they need to overexplain or simplify those concepts to the audience. It's not like Kojima knows his audience is coming into the game with a deep well of experience dealing with this (though he certainly should have a little more confidence that the audience can deal with it). And you could make similar arguments that games like Bioshock Infinite have gone with similar exposition dumps to over-explain the more complicated pieces of the story.

In general in big budget games there seems to be a tendency to overexplain to make sure nothing gets missed from their grand story, as opposed to leaving gaps to be filled in by the player. And I suspect it comes from the same place of not wanting anyone to miss out on the cool thing they designed, same as creating lots of elements to make sure people will experience as much gameplay as possible. But there has to be better ways of doing it than what we have here.

I go the other way on that. I don't think Kojima has anything particularly interesting to say, but I respect the fact that he says it directly, rather than hiding it in subtext.

I think metaphors/allegories have become to adults what sarcasm is to teenagers: a false mark of sophistication. Implicitly comparing something to another is not inherently smart. Uncovering something interesting about one thing by comparing it to another IS smart, but it's also difficult, and I can't remember the last time I saw a game do it.

IMO the best way to handle real-life themes in games is to tackle them directly, and go deep. There's no real reason to hide important ideas and opinions in subtext, unless what you're saying is very subversive. Too often, games (and movies) just use metaphors to do a superficial drive-by on things like war, politics, racism, etc. Just enough to spawn a lengthy piece on Polygon, but not enough to actually say something interesting. Too bad.

With that said, as much as I love MGS, Kojima really isn't a great story-teller.

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Oh boy.

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JoeDangerous

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Fragile: eats a cryptoid

Abby: "Why did he do this?!"

I have a feeling you could ask this for a lot of decisions made around this game. I just can't tell, yet, if they were good ones.

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bill_mcneal

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...haven't played the game (or finished either video), but I've got a strong feeling I know what the deal is with the Bridge Babies. Especially with the West Coast's...let's say "less than stellar attitude" when discussing them.

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I am honestly positively taken aback by Dan hating Boondock Saints. It seems like the type of movie that Dan would have loved at a very specific time in his life and I am so happy he didn't or saw it afterwards and realized the levels of bullshit within it.

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Edited By zoofame

It's a bizarre choice to chop up impressions and quick looks across so many different videos and podcasts. I'm getting extreme Anthem vibes from the dichotomy between the amount of coverage this is getting compared to how deserving it is of that attention. I suppose it's more justified in this case because of the hype and the byzantine embargo structure but man this just feels like a mess.

On the game itself, the visual design is really pretty. Even the menus and animations have a cohesive look and feel to them. And mechanically the traversal gameplay looks like a big step up for interactive level design. I just wish it was married to a more fulfilling experience overall.

@mittens said:

IMO the best way to handle real-life themes in games is to tackle them directly, and go deep. There's no real reason to hide important ideas and opinions in subtext, unless what you're saying is very subversive. Too often, games (and movies) just use metaphors to do a superficial drive-by on things like war, politics, racism, etc. Just enough to spawn a lengthy piece on Polygon, but not enough to actually say something interesting. Too bad.

I think there's plenty of room between sterile, direct discussion and needlessly obfuscated subtext. I love documentaries and wikipedia but the world would be a much less interesting place without literature and storytelling that address themes while building upon them. It's a critical aspect to culture that enriches our experience with those themes.

You're spot on that video games are stuck in this crippled state of being too risk-averse to actually say anything meaningful. We're told to be content with something like Modern Warfare for merely pointing at war crimes without ever stopping to ask "are we the baddies?". I don't think we need to grade artists in video games on a curve just because the bar is so low for the medium.

What's frustrating is Kojima pushed the medium forward by successfully incorporating techniques from film at a time when that was rare. Now he seems to be taking a step backward by turning each character into a cardboard standee that shouts exposition at the player without ever developing the game's themes beyond a TED talk about how we need to come together.

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Very, like, primordial America with, like, kinda, like, many, like, like, like.

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infantpipoc

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@crimsonjester: Both game are published by Sony, both powered by a game engine called Decima. This very likely is nothing more than a promotion for Horizon Zero Dawn.

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Edited By Mittens
@zoofame said:

I think there's plenty of room between sterile, direct discussion and needlessly obfuscated subtext. I love documentaries and wikipedia but the world would be a much less interesting place without literature and storytelling that address themes while building upon them. It's a critical aspect to culture that enriches our experience with those themes.

You're spot on that video games are stuck in this crippled state of being too risk-averse to actually say anything meaningful. We're told to be content with something like Modern Warfare for merely pointing at war crimes without ever stopping to ask "are we the baddies?". I don't think we need to grade artists in video games on a curve just because the bar is so low for the medium.

What's frustrating is Kojima pushed the medium forward by successfully incorporating techniques from film at a time when that was rare. Now he seems to be taking a step backward by turning each character into a cardboard standee that shouts exposition at the player without ever developing the game's themes beyond a TED talk about how we need to come together.

You're not wrong. Metaphors are wonderful, when used well, and there's certainly a place for them in videogames. I think what turns me off is the vaguely gatekeepy, "English Lit student fresh out of 1st semester" attitude a lot of critics take vis-a-vis subtext and metaphors. IMO outlets like Waypoint and Polygon (and occasionally GB too) are sometimes guilty of treating complex narratives as a metaphor hunt and obsessing over "what's the REAL meaning of this story?" while ignoring the actual plot. I don't think it's a good way to approach subtext.

About Kojima, to be fair, having thin characters that shout exposition at the player is not really that off-brand (see: the codec). I honestly don't mind that much that he's unsubtle; I mind that he was unable to weave his thoughts on tech, as clichéd as they are, into an interesting narrative (from what i've seen and heard on DS so far). Well that and every other design problem with Death Stranding.

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Alex's birthday coming up, happy future birthday Alex!

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Norman Reedus is cute