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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Death Stranding is an action adventure game for the PlayStation 4. The game casts players as Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man who risks his life and safety to take jobs of transporting various goods to people across a fractured representation of an alternate history United States. Unfortunately, hazards, including the environment, roving bandit gangs, and invisible monsters threaten his life along his journey. Players will have the option to use either lethal or non-lethal means to eliminate threats, although the game emphasizes using non-violent methods as being preferable. There's also the option to use blood or other bodily fluids as weapons against opponents, which can cause invisible monsters to appear in a cloudy mist. Sam shows his buttocks often in cutscenes when he's showering, or when he's shown in some cutscenes, although the camera spins away before anything else is shown. There's frequent use of swearing, including "f—k" and "s—t", along with cutscenes where a character smokes and drinks. Finally, there's frequent ad placement for different items, such as Norman Reedus' Ride TV show and Monster energy drink, which plays a massive role in recovering Sam's stamina. It also promotes artists with the songs that were contributed to the soundtrack, along with pictures and text of movies, motorcycles, and more.
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What's it about?
DEATH STRANDING is an action adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic America. A series of catastrophic events have triggered events known as the Death Stranding, which causes invisible supernatural creatures to come into the world and kill anyone near them. What's worse, attempting to fight back against these monsters causes the creatures to wipe aggressive people and the cities they live in off the face of the planet, reducing these locations to large craters. As a result, people have taken to living in scattered underground communities or shelters in an attempt to avoid detection by the creatures, while relying upon a select group of delivery people to get them the items they want or need. Players step into the role of Sam Porter Bridges, a delivery man who's known for being able to accomplish his tasks quickly and effectively. But he's suddenly given one of the most challenging jobs of his career – cross the country, help establish a network of cities to rebuild the nation, and along the way, help a group that's attempting to prevent another Death Stranding that could wipe out everyone in the country, if not the world. But that'll be easier said than done, because Sam will have to travel through areas infested with invisible monsters, fight off bandit gangs that want to horde any package they can find, and an environment that's hostile against everyone. Will you be able to reconnect the country and stop the Stranding?
Is it any good?
This massive adventure dives into emotionally deep, complex issues, but in the end is an incredible tale of loss, reconnection, and struggle against seemingly impossible odds. Initially, Death Stranding might seem like a story about survivors simply trying to squeeze out an existence in the midst of a strange, weird global tragedy. Every character, especially Sam, is somewhat damaged emotionally or mentally by the events of the Stranding, and discovering the history of their stories can hit you hard. But as Sam takes on missions through hazards and reconnects distant communities to each other, these fractured groups share information, trade content, and even, in some missions, help each other. Even the most mundane task of gathering supplies or finding a package that was lost by a fellow porter can cheer up the most stubborn survivor, which will give you additional info or stat boosts to accomplish your goals. The result, especially by the end of the game, is that people are able to grow, reconcile their previous issues, and in some cases, move on in a positive way. Apart from the rich single player storyline, you'll come across packages lost by other players, structures built by them to help porters deliver packages or cross obstacles, or other markers to give you a hand on your mission or a warning about what's to come. The way this limited online interaction is handled fosters a sense of community between players, making you want to build structures to help other gamers, or pick up lost items from fallen porters to help others out. After all, you're all in the same situation, but one small favor goes a long way, and can make someone else's game just a bit easier.
That's important because Stranding isn't always an easy game. The environment can be just as dangerous as your opponents. Falls, bumps, and tumbles can damage you and your packages, while rain and snow will eat away at package cases until their contents are destroyed. Along with these natural hazards, you'll have to rely upon stealth to navigate monster-infested areas, which can be nerve racking when these beasts suddenly appear in front of you. Even the items you get to fend off these creatures aren't a guarantee that you'll survive these encounters. In other areas, you'll face off against swarming groups of bandits that want to steal your gear and kill you. But unlike other action games, Stranding emphasizes non-violent solutions to these situations, knocking out or tying up enemies instead of shooting them where they stand. You have the option to use traditional weapons, but it'll make things much harder, and more dangerous, in the end. As a result, you constantly look for threats, and realize that running away can be just as important as eliminating your foes, especially if you have a deadline to deliver a package. Striking, immersive, and engrossing, Death Stranding is a haunting adventure that you'll look forward to returning to over and over again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Death Stranding affected by the game's promotion of non-violent methods? Does it help that there's a heavier emphasis on preventing harm rather than causing deaths, which could lead to more destruction in the game world? Is violence an issue because combat, for most of the game, can be avoided?
Why do you think people become disconnected with each other? Is it because of emotional problems or misunderstandings? Actions that someone performs? Tragic circumstances? Is it possible to reforge friendships with people you've lost contact with, or are they possibly lost forever?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: November 8, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language
- Last updated: November 14, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.