Death Stranding - Crows

With the acquisition of my shiny new Steam Deck, I have been on a game-buying tear; sniffing out deals and scooping up as many titles as I can. So when I got an alert that Death Stranding was on sale on Steam last week, I wasted no time adding it to my library. (I should point out that, at the time of this writing, the sale is still live, though you’re going to want to scramble if you want to pick it up before it expires.)

Although I’m having a blast playing Death Stranding on my Steam Deck (it looks incredible and runs really well), I noticed something in the first few minutes of the campaign that somehow escaped my attention the first two times I played it

While watching the excellent opening cutscene of Sam tooling around on his delivery cycle, there are two different animals that are featured prominently in the cinematic: a large murder of crows and also two deer (a buck and a doe, I believe). And even though both sets of animals play an integral role in projecting the dangers of the mysterious Timefall mechanic in Death Stranding, I don’t believe you’ll ever run into either of these animals again — or really, any animals at all save for the Cryptobiotes.

Death Stranding - Deer

This is weird. I’m speculating here, but I feel like this was either an oversight, or perhaps animals were actually at some point an element of Death Stranding that maybe got cut for one reason or another. If the latter is true — and the cut came late in development — it could stand to reason that it was just too expensive or tedious to redo that damn-near perfect opening cutscene, so they left it as is and gambled that no one would notice.

The lack of animals in the game world doesn’t really make a difference one way or another, other than it would’ve been cool to see a random mountain goat perched expertly on the side of a cliff face, watching Sam struggle to find a suitable path to the summit. 

But animals also could’ve factored into the gameplay, with spooked deer gumming up the works while Sam is trying to sneak by some MULEs. Or the crows could’ve served as a visual tell that a Timefall — or really, any other danger — was incoming, in addition to the beeping hood popping up over Sam’s head. There could’ve even been predators that would’ve added an extra element of danger.

Then again, I could see this becoming tiresome rather quickly; it’s already hard enough getting from point A to B without a rogue bear to contend with.

The weirdest thing for me is that if the deer and crows weren’t so noticeable in the opening cutscene, I don’t think their absence throughout the rest of the game would’ve even been all that evident. We literally see a crow fall to Sam’s feet and decompose at an extremely accelerated rate.

Death Stranding - Crow

And the deer jump a cliff next to Sam, showing him a clear path across the chasm that lies before him. We even see that one deer struggles to clear the gap and ultimately falls to the depths below.

Although one could argue that, since I didn’t notice either animal weren’t in any area of the actual game until my third playthrough when the screen was literally right in front of my face, these missing animals maybe aren’t as noticeable or problematic as I am trying to make them out to be. It’s hard to say.

In any event, Death Stranding is still an incredible game, roaming animals or not. It just would’ve been nice if the groundwork laid in this cutscene informed the inclusion of fauna throughout the rest of the game.

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