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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Much of the story revolves around reconnecting people across long distances, both physical, emotional, and psychological. That also includes building relationships with people that are meaningful and important. The gameplay emphasizes going out of your way and to great lengths for others to help people, and how vital that can be when people are separated.
Positive Role Models
Sam is a classic anti-hero character – he's gruff, distant, and aloof, mainly because of the trauma he's suffered and the circumstances he lives through. Over the course of the game, he learns to cares for others, and tries to prevent disasters. Other people also grow and aim for reconciliation with past issues or people they've grown distant from.
There's a bit of diversity in the people that you deliver packages to and get orders from. There's little interaction with them apart from delivering packages. Only a few people of color are included in outposts or cities, although one Black character is a key figure in the story.
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Ease of Play
Players have to balance hauling many packages, paying attention to your surroundings, and avoiding damage to objects. Combat, stealth, and stamina management are also tossed in, frequently at the same time, which can be a bit of a challenge if you're not paying attention to your circumstances. But other sequences play like a standard action game, but there are practice ranges where you can test your skills to get better at these segments. Players can also participate in races on a track with vehicles, each with their own level of handling and driving skill.
Violence & Scariness
Players have guns, grenades, and other makeshift items to defend against monsters and people, but gameplay emphasizes and promotes using non-violent means to successfully explore and complete tasks. In fact, using methods to kill opponents can potentially endanger yourself and innocent characters, so this is left as a last resort. Players can use blood-infused or bodily fluid-infused weapons to eliminate some creatures, who fade away in showers of red mist. Some cutscenes show bodies or blood, and some creatures appear as writhing shapes to attack and drown the hero. Bodies are also shown floating in water and in a purgatory-like space.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sam's buttocks are shown every time he showers, and in some cutscenes on a beach. The camera quickly turns away before showing anything else. Some female characters show cleavage, midriffs, or tight-fitting clothing.
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Frequent and repetitive swearing, including "f—k," "s—t," and other words.
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Products & Purchases
There are occasional promotions of products, like the "Ride with Norman Reedus" TV show when Sam goes to the bathroom. Unlockable items include motorcycles from Honda and Triumph, and films from Kubrick, Refn, and other directors. Unlike the original game, the Director's Cut has toned down the frequency of other products from showing up or removed them entirely. A separate downloadable item promotes songs from the soundtrack and an art book with designs from the game.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters smoke in cutscenes. Additionally, some characters also drink champagne in story sequences as well. Players will also be given beer as a reward for completing a mission.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Death Stranding: Director's Cut is an action/adventure game for the PlayStation 5. 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. He's also tasked with reconnecting cities and outposts to an Internet-like service. Unfortunately, hazards, including the environment, roving bandit gangs, and invisible monsters threaten his life along his journey. Players can choose to use either lethal or non-lethal means to eliminate threats, although the story and characters constantly emphasize using non-violent methods as being preferable to the safety of Sam and innocent characters. 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 in some cutscenes on beaches, 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. Sam also receives beer as a reward for completing a mission. Finally, there's occasional ad placement for items, such as Norman Reedus' Ride TV show. It also promotes artists with the songs that were contributed to the soundtrack, along with pictures and text of movies, motorcycles, and more. There's also a separate program featuring songs from the soundtrack and selections from an art book.
Is It Any Good?
While this adventure's original release highlighted a struggle to reconnect people that were seemingly lost and scattered across a fractured nation, its themes stand out more in the shadow of Covid-19. In the light of the global pandemic, the messages from Death Stranding: Director's Cut about survivors trying to squeeze out an existence because of an invisible, ever-pervasive threat that could strike people down out of nowhere feels not only perceptive, but could feel a little close to home for many players. Whether it's the idea of sheltering in place and waiting on things to get better, or relying upon deliveries to get you necessities, the unintended parallels are extremely clear, adding more importance and weight in each chapter of the story. That also casts a larger spotlight on the emotional and mental damage these characters have gone through. Much of the storyline is exactly the same as the original, although the addition of a new area in the Ruined Factory feels like it's plucked from Kojima's other gaming franchise, Metal Gear Solid, and really emphasizes stealth gameplay. Aside from this side mission, you'll still come across packages lost by other players, structures built by them to help porters deliver packages or cross obstacles, or other markers to help you along the way. Some of the newer structures in the Director's Cut are significantly more useful than others, like jump ramps to help you cross chasms, or cargo catapults to launch deliveries from one location to the next. Others, like the Chiral Bridge, aren't great when the rain kicks up and shuts them down. The same can be said about the racetrack, which is mainly for players that want to drive on a circuit, but doesn't really add much to the overall experience. And while the option for your buddy bot can help you carry more, its limitation to specific areas you've connected to the network can be infuriating. All together though, your limited online interaction 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, while you're playing by yourself, you're all in the same situation. One small favor goes a long way, and can make someone else's game just a bit easier.
The Director's Cut is still difficult, because the environment's rough, jagged terrain is as dangerous as the invisible monsters and the raiding parties scattered across the land. In fact, the most tense moments are when you're stuck in some areas that are constantly raining, ruining your equipment and packages while also placing you in danger of being attacked at any moment. It makes you more reliant upon the gear you've packed and your skill at effectively using them in battle or in navigating from one place to the next. The Director's Cut doubles down on its emphasis of non-violent solutions to attacks from enemies by providing you with a new weapon against human opponents, the Maser gun, which delivers electric shocks, and a support skeleton that can be used to run away from foes. The maser's great, although it quickly gets outpaced in usefulness as you get access to later non-lethal guns. You have the option to use traditional weapons, but it'll make things much harder, and more dangerous, in the end. Death Stranding: Director's Cut builds on the eerie, striking play of the original, and feels fresher and more vibrant with its expanded content to help you dive into this mysterious story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.