Death Stranding: Questions at the Half-way Point
Death Stranding is a game about delivering packages. The glorious monotony is interrupted be the occasional flourish of extreme weirdness, but mostly it's about getting a box from A to B, under duress.
Death Stranding has no business being as entertaining as it is. I'm consumed by post-apocalyptic logistics. Weighing speed against volume, planning out optimal routes, deciding whether to travel on foot or by vehicle; considering where the dead might lurk and fuck with my schedule.
I'm twenty hours in and I love it. But like any good Kojima game, Death Stranding is full of plot points and features that make zero sense. We've long wondered why the massive eagles didn't fly the hobbits to Mordor, and why the survivors continued to follow TV's Rick Grimes for several years. Likewise, we must now contemplate why Death Stranding's inhabitants didn't just dissolve corpses in acid instead of cremating them and attracting floaty, oil corpses.
I have many questions about DS. I imagine a few of them will be answered over the second half of the game, but I'd wager most of them won't.
Light spoilers for the first five chapters of Death Stranding follow, obviously.
1. I only travelled 1.2km. Why is everyone freaking out?
Die-Hardman warns me that this will be my furthest delivery yet and that I should prepare accordingly. I bring up the map. The route is two measly kilometres. Man, these pricks are easily impressed! Either America has shrunk or a kilometre doesn't mean what it used to.
2. Why does Die-Hardman wear a skull mask?
He's yet to turn villain, but the skull mask is a dead giveaway that he's not to be trusted. It's weird that this doesn't seem to bother our Sam. He's more than happy taking orders from a man who spends all day looking like Skeletor and at one point ordered us to cremate a healthy jar baby.
3. A single, untreated corpse can cause a catastrophic explosion. Hang on, what?
If a dead body isn't correctly disposed of within a given period of time, it may cause a void out - a massive explosion that can annihilate an entire city. I have so many questions, but the most crucial is why are people permitted to live alone, like the Elder? If he pops his clogs, who's going to know? He's going to go boom, and potentially take tens of thousands of people with him. This void out nonsense makes zero sense and is the part of the story that bugs me the most.
4. Did no one watch Breaking Bad?
Acid is good for three things: being alien blood, making the Jokers face all white, and dissolving bodies. Fill a barrel with acid, chuck the body in there, dodge a void out. Instead, Sam and his friends insist on cremating corpses, which releases "bad shit" into the air and attracts the dead. Makes no sense. Unless no one has re-invented barrels yet? Which also makes no sense.
5. Why is Sam so thick?
I didn't like Hicks' tomfoolery. That bit where he pretends to be a warehouse employee and hands you a bomb, poorly disguised as a regular package. He winks his way through the entire conversation with Simple Sam and is even good enough to disclose the true contents in the package description. Stupid Sam just furrows his brow, thinks for a second, then grabs the package. It takes a full day and an enlightening dream before he cottons on that the package probably isn't full of anime and socks. Shit-for-brains-Sam also seems to be ambivalent to the fact that pretty much everyone is taking advantage of him. This is John Marston levels of gullibility.
6. How is 70kg of food going to feed a city of 60,000?
People have tiny appetites? Or the inhabitants of the city, who we never see, don't actually exist? Shut up, don't spoil it for me!
7. Why has everyone agreed to go along with these ludicrous names?
Die-Hardman. Fragile. Mama. Deadman. Cliff. Despite the awful state of the world, it's good that people haven't lost their sense of humour.
DH: Hi. I'm Die-Hardman. Nice to meet you.
S: That's what it says on your birth certificate? Hardman, Die?
DH: What? Why are you being a dick? I've only just met you.
S: I'm not. I just want to know your name.
DH: Why does it matter?
S: I just don't feel comfortable calling you that,.... Gary?
DH: Don't call me that. No one calls me that.
S: OK, Gary. Can you sign for this box of sperm?
I really like Death Stranding. Speak again soon.