When Death Stranding was first unveiled in 2016, its unusual design left us all with questions that would persist and multiply with the arrival of each new trailer. As Kojima Productions’ first independent release, it’s clear from its marketing cycle that the team was focused on upending traditional AAA expectations. With most games, you know what you’re in for before you even pick up the controller. By contrast, Death Stranding is an enigma – but some of the mystery lifts today, and certainly from a technological perspective, it’s a stunning achievement.
In many respects, showing is far more effective than telling, so I would suggest watching the video embedded on this page for some idea of how Death Stranding delivers a truly unique experience. Going into this one, I thought I was done with open world games – the genre has evolved and homogenised into the kind of experience I just don’t particularly enjoy any more. However, Death Stranding is different and stands apart, bringing back the magic of discovery in a way I haven’t experienced in years. It is, perhaps, one of the most visually striking games of the generation – a new benchmark for the medium – and this dark, isolated world adopts a style that leaves a mark long after you’ve finished playing.
There’s a singular vision here but also a strong technological foundation. When Kojima Productions started work on the title, the team had the opportunity to select from Sony’s stable of tools and technology, eventually settling upon Guerrilla Games’ superb Decima Engine – the same technology that delivered the brilliant Horizon Zero Dawn. As an open world game with a focus on the cinematic, Decima feels like a perfect fit for Death Stranding. Many of the key technical and visual features supported by Decima are utilised to great effect while the few shortcomings found in Horizon, such as water rendering, are greatly improved.