I have zero patience for Death Stranding. I’ve tried to play it twice now and each time I only made it a few hours through before the long-winded cutscenes, Kojima quirks, and gratuitous shots of Monster cans made me give up. I wanted to get into the deliveries and see this strand-built world everyone was so excited to explore, but it feels like I have to complete a marathon to even hit that point. FOMO is a bitch, though, and I’m going into 2023 desperate to try and finally complete it, at least in time for the sequel.
Lead Features Editor Jade King has been singing its praises for years, and she also got me to try Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 7 Intergrade, and I Was A Teenage Exocolonist, all of which are certified bangers—the last one even made my 2022 GOTY list, and FF9 is one of my all-time favourites now. Safe to say, I respect her taste. The same goes for Lead News Editor George Foster, whose taste lines up almost exactly with mine. He’s got a Death Stranding hand tattoo, so it’s safe to say he’s a fan. Everyone I agree with about games seems to love it.
Regardless of how many people enjoy it, though, there’s a fundamental problem I have to overcome if I’m ever going to stand a chance of beating it—cutscenes. I’ve never been a fan of them, especially not when they’re dragged out. Games are an interactive medium and that’s what makes them so great, so anytime I have to put my controller down to watch my character do everything for me, I get bored. I had this problem with the modern Call of Duty campaigns, a lot of the long-winded Yakuza finales, and, of course, Death Stranding. And that was just the opening. The ending is apparently the length of a movie, and nothing could have made me less interested. I could stick an actual movie on, read a book, or play a game in that time, but FOMO.
I’ve said FOMO twice now, so I’m sorry if I lost you. It means Fear Of Missing Out. For those who aren’t terminally online, it’s normally used to mean parties or events, but my FOMO is strictly for games. I get it with new releases, which I scramble to beat as fast as possible to keep up with the conversation, but I also get it with classic games, which Death Stranding instantly became. Every time it comes up, I keep quiet—I don’t want to be Debbie Downer dragging everyone else into my lul because I couldn’t enjoy it. But, more than that, I wish I got what everyone was seeing and experiencing—I don’t want to be in that lull to begin with.
The way people talk about it, it sounds beautiful, like a masterclass in storytelling and gameplay. I want to experience that. I love Norman Reedus, mostly because of his gruff crossbow-wielding portrayal of Daryl in The Walking Dead, and I love grungy dystopias set in hopeless worlds. It should be right up my alley. But once again, cutscenes. It’s going to be my biggest hurdle if I’m to beat it in 2023, so I might have to try it again, during a holiday off work, or I’ll risk fearing I wasted my evening watching two hours of Norman Reedus coddling a supernatural space fetus.
At any rate, it’s my one big gaming goal. I’m going to continue playing more JRPGs, just like I did in 2022; I already—finally—beat the Witcher 3 after hundreds of hours of Gwent and side quests, so that’s ticked off; I also want to get into other classics like Ico and King’s Field, but top of the list is Death Stranding, the mountain I’m desperate to climb. I just hope the view from the peak isn’t disappointing.
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