Gaming

Death Stranding review: Trying to recover what we’ve lost

A take on the importance of human connection

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As morbid as it is, the reality is we will all meet our end. And it’s not just our own personal ends as we grow old, but also the end of civilization as we know it. There are game titles that detail every possible scenario of near-extinction for the human race, and how the survivors deal with what’s left.

Death Stranding initially seems to follow that trend — a game that tackles another possible near-extinction of the human race. At first, it seemed like another post-apocalypse storyline, mixed with the advent of technology and leaving it all to human effort to harness it. Every other video game that deals with technology, to me always ends in bloodshed.

But as I played through this game, it showed something else.

Avoiding craters and building bridges

You play as Sam Porter Bridges, voiced by Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead. His role in society is a delivery man, tasked to simply deliver supplies and resources to different cities in America. From my understanding, he’s an isolated fellow — prefers to just be on his own, and deems himself untouchable out of fear.

The entire game takes place in whatever’s left of America some time after a series of voidouts that killed millions. Sam reports to BRIDGES in the capital of the United Cities of America; as the name suggests, BRIDGES wants to repair the broken UCA and its divided people. The surrounding area of the capital is what you would expect: shielded from the outside for a good reason.

To me, this is one interesting take on human survival. Normally, in post-apocalyptic worlds, the goal is to save yourself (or your loved ones) while mauling your way through every peril. With Death Stranding, the goal is simply to survive and ensure the survival of everyone else. And the only way to do that is to, well, bridge every human together.

Realistically going all over America and its perils

Death Stranding, to me comes close to capturing the humanity of any character in terms of physical aspects. The game allows you to explore every facet of being a human while establishing a level of purpose for doing simple things. And yes, that includes taking a shower before heading out for expeditions.

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Movement in this game is what you would usually expect. As a delivery man, you got some valuable cargo on your hands, hips, and back; balance is as important as survival instincts. Fortunately, the game has controls that allow you to maintain your balance while moving. This is especially important when you’ll start carrying heavier cargo and supplies.

There’s also a level of incorporating the natural surroundings while you’re moving or running around. Even simply tripping on rocks causes damage to you, and possibly the cargo you’re bringing along. Managing your balance and stamina is necessary to survive and to get your deliveries in order.

But one interesting highlight in this game is the rain, known as Timefall which effectively renders cargo protection useless. In game, Die-Hardman reminds you that Timefall speeds up time while also inviting the unseen anomalies you’re trying to avoid. While you have an option to simply seek shelter in caves or rocks, I just went for it and ran for my life.

The concept of irreversible damage unto the world

As the game will show you early on, you are a repatriate — essentially given the ability to come back to life. Every time you die in-game, you are placed in what is known as an upside-down world. To return to life, simply follow a strand that leads to Sam’s body. This is the kind of respawn that I felt was the game’s strongest feature over all other post-apocalyptic titles.

See, when you die and repatriate with your body, anything that happened before you died stays exactly as they are. If you die from a voidout, the huge crater stays and any life lost is forever gone. For some reason, the cargo you were bringing along stays where they are/relatively intact.

I personally found this to be most realistic way to do a respawn mechanic in-game. If you’re going for full human experience, you don’t get a chance to undo any damage already caused in the world. You only get to proceed with unfinished business, but no takebacks.

There’s great emphasis on the human connection

The endgame of bridging every human possible is protection from the BTs — discovered to be former humans turned into dark matter. BTs are the ones formally responsible for all the voidouts that occur in-game. Heartman highlights that the slightest interaction with the BTs could start the ticking time bomb.

Perhaps Sam’s biggest protection against the BTs involve two things given to him: a sickness called DOOMS and a BB module. The BB module contains an actual baby inside a vat of yellow liquid, keeping it safe. Sam’s connection to the BB module only strengthens his protection and awareness of the BTs around him.

What I find a little troublesome about the BBs and BTs is that it doesn’t necessarily provide you protection. While the whole set-up of the Sam-BB relationship was for protection, running past the BTs is still pretty difficult because the baby won’t stop crying. Also, any damage done to the BB module severely stresses out the baby, making it more difficult to move around. But, I guess that’s where the ultimate challenge lies.

Overall, it hits the core principle of human survival

Death Stranding offers a unique yet relevant take on post-apocalyptic survival. As a game, several human mechanics are spot on and given their full justice. From trekking to managing your balance and cargo, you will definitely feel the realism in the human experience.

But more than anything, this game truly highlights a facet vital for human survival: connection. At its forefront, the game puts together a story that hinges on the importance of human connection on every turn. 

Sam, an isolated human being has to trust BRIDGES in hopes to restore the world to a less broken state. No lives lost, only those saved and protected from BT exposure. For the first time, I didn’t have to kill to survive; I just needed to survive so others may survive, as well.

This game offers relatively simple movement mechanics, mixed with a unique take on a post-apocalypse storyline. And if you’re looking for a different type of action-survival game, a game like Death Stranding is something truly worth to give a shot.

Death Stranding will be available on November 8 for the PlayStation 4.

Gaming

Stardew Valley developer announces second game, Haunted Chocolatier

Manage a haunted chocolate shop

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Years since its launch, Stardew Valley is still one of the most popular farm simulators in gaming history. In fact, ConcernedApe, the game’s sole developer, still released substantial updates to the game recently. Riding on the popularity of the first title, ConcernedApe is already working on his second title called Haunted Chocolatier.

The developer has often stayed silent regarding future games. At the very least, he already confirmed work on several projects during Stardew Valley’s lifespan. Today, however, ConcernedApe finally revealed much-awaited details on the next project.

Haunted Chocolatier is a similar management game. This time, players take control of a chocolatier living in a haunted castle. As such, it shares in the same formula that made Stardew Valley so popular. Players are just crafting different chocolates now, instead of crops.

In terms of design, the game will look similar to the first game. Players are still collecting materials and fighting in combat mechanics. However, ConcernedApe does confirm that the game will have more action-RPG mechanics rather than a dedicated focus to management.

Though the developer has already confirmed the game, ConcernedApe has not announced a launch date for the chocolate-making game. According to the game’s FAQ, he would rather focus on the game without worrying about deadlines.

SEE ALSO: Couple co-op games to play during the pandemic

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God of War is officially coming to PC

Shouting “boy” in 4K

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In recent years, no game really came near to perfection as 2018’s God of War. The popular PlayStation 4 game won several accolades and universal acclaim since its release. In fact, the game’s upcoming sequel God of War Ragnarök is one of the most hotly anticipated titles today. To stave off the ongoing thirst for the sequel, fans might enjoy something coming up for the franchise: God of War is coming to PC.

Posted silently overnight, the game just got its official Steam page, announcing a launch on January 15, 2022. The new page doesn’t seem like a mistake either. Steam isn’t shy about the upcoming release. The game is currently on the platform’s front page. And soon after it first appeared, Steam officially posted an article confirming so.

As expected, it’s a direct port. It won’t come with any additional gameplay content. However, PC gamers will have access to more graphical features. Highlighting the port, of course, is 4K widescreen (up to 21:9 resolution) support. It will also have unlocked framerates. Users will have access to higher-resolution shadows, reflections, ambient occlusion, GTAO, and SSDO.

For smaller machines, the port will come with NVIDIA Deep Learning Super Sampling and NVIDIA Reflex to optimize how the graphics will perform under different hardware configurations.

Anyone who purchases the game on PC will have access to some free digital content: Death’s Vow armor sets, Exile’s Guardian shield skin, Buckler of the Forge shield skin, Shining Elven Soul shield skin, and Dökkenshieldr shield skin.

God of War on PC will cost US$ 49.99.

SEE ALSO: God of War actor blames himself for Ragnarok delay

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t for everybody

And, that’s fine

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure third-person video game. The game is developed and produced by Ember Lab. In the game, you play as Kena. She’s a young spirit guide who uses her magical abilities to help people pass on into the spirit world.

The game is stunning and deep dives into spiritual aspects like emotional entanglement with the physical word after passing away.

In case you don’t have a working pair of eyes

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a gorgeous game. Stunning yet scuffed at times, this game is nothing short of eye-candy. The background details and character design is just *chef’s kiss*. But, big butt (Editor’s Note: Not sure if this is a typo but we’ve decided to keep it as is), by the way, this aesthetic might not be to some people’s liking. Hear me out: this game looks and feels like you’re playing through a Disney Pixar movie. And, honestly, that might not be for everyone.

On the scuffed end of things, you’ll find that some things glitch through objects and terrain. But, to that, I think it adds to its charm. The silliness is often welcome and strangely expected in the whole gaming sense. This isn’t the first scuffed game to come across a gamer’s life and it won’t be the last. I think each game has its improvements and patches to develop and incorporate and the glitches make the whole experience memorable and meme-able.

The crutch everyone won’t shut up about

This game is weirdly forgettable for people who’ve played a lot of third-person action adventures. Why? Well, this isn’t the first of its kind. Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes from many games before it and blends its inspirations together pretty nicely without overcomplicating its mechanics.

I would say though, that this can be what I personally found to be endearing with Kena. It unapologetically makes for a good entry-level action-adventure game for people who might not normally gravitate to games like it. With its beautiful visuals and memorable take on grievances, Kena pulls at sentimental heartstrings without the stupidly complicated skill building of most other action adventures out there.

Don’t hate the game

Nor, the player. The game is simple. That can be refreshing for some players or just boring to some. Which, I’ll say now, to each their own. Most games under the same category are far more convoluted and complex. So, if that’s something you like, this isn’t for you. And that’s totally fine.

Most of the game plays on collecting cute Rot along the way. And, on top of the usual skill building, most rewards you’ll find in hidden spots are either more Rot or hats for them. It doesn’t really require that much mental gymnastics to play this game. You can play to relax and just enjoy the journey. Which, for me, is great! Kena: Bridge of Spirits is the perfect game for when you want to play with family watching. I’m sure it’ll feel like a movie to them.

Is this your GAME Match?

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game worth trying no matter how familiar you are with video games in the same category. The barrier of entry is super friendly and simplistic so, you won’t need that much video game experience to immerse in the story. Plus, you can customize the game for when you want more of a challenge.

I do have to say though, that this game might fight to keep your interest at times but, it sure can lure you back in. As for me, I was happy to play this game. It was challenging at times and, it might not be the best one on my list. But, it gets honorary points for being simple, gorgeous, and family-friendly.

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