NEW YORK (CNS) — Issues of isolation and social breakdown are explored in celebrated game designer Hideo Kojima's "Death Stranding" (Sony Interactive).

In the game's post-apocalyptic setting, scattered remnants of the U.S. population are cut off from one another and the government has entrusted a courier named Sam (voice of Norman Reedus) with the mission of reuniting the country.

The cataclysmic event that gives "Death Stranding" its title involved the creation of a connection between this world and an upside-down realm of mortality referred to as "the Beach." As a result, "beached things," or BTs, were stranded in our cosmos.

BTs look like ghostly apparitions and are incredibly hostile to the living. Their predations caused the collapse of society.

Gamers take up the role of Sam as he delivers a communications system that will reestablish national cohesion. Sam can also take on other delivery orders as a means of winning goodwill.

There is some combat, but it's not an intrinsic element of the game. Most of Sam's enemies are either BTs or rogue couriers called "MULEs" out to steal cargo. Nonlethal methods of taking out human enemies are the most common and the most encouraged. Modified guns and grenades are available for fighting the BTs.

Though there is no overt sexuality, there are several images of Sam seen from behind while showering. Both the spoken and text dialogue, moreover, include some salty and irreverent terms.

One unusual element of the narrative evokes the real-world struggle over reproductive morality. So-called "bridge babies," or BBs, preborn children placed in portable artificial wombs, are used as tools because of their ability to spot BTs.

Most of society treats BBs as mere instruments, and Sam himself is told not to get attached to the one he's given. But he dissents from the prevailing view, protesting that his BB is alive.

To what extent Kojima is inviting players to reflect on a whole range of contemporary ethical questions, from abortion and test-tube babies to surrogacy, is unclear. Yet gamers committed to the intrinsic, irreducible value of human life will recognize a kindred spirit in Sam.

Playable on PlayStation 4.

The game contains restrained violence with stylized blood effects, rear male nudity, occasional profanities and some vulgar language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.