Death Strand­ing


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Well, Where do We be­gin? Death Strand­ing is likely to re­main an enigma un­til its re­lease, and even then Hideo Ko­jima’s lat­est might take a bit of time to truly fig­ure out. The man him­self is promis­ing the game will have an im­pact on genre con­ven­tions just as the orig­i­nal Metal Gear did, it­self classed as an ac­tion game on re­lease be­cause the stealth, or ‘tac­ti­cal es­pi­onage ac­tion’, genre hadn’t even been in­vented at that point. A huge claim, sure, but one we’re will­ing to hu­mour for the ex-ko­jipro, now Ko­jipro man – if any­one can do it, Ko­jima can, right?

We do know a bit more about Death Strand­ing now, even if the ma­jor­ity of the game is still shrouded in mys­tery. You will con­trol Sam Bridges – played by Nor­man Ree­dus – as he makes his way across a postapoc­a­lyp­tic world on a jour­ney to ‘re­unite the shat­tered world’. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, that looks like it means a lot of courier work – like an endof-the-world UPS man, if you will – across des­o­late land­scapes, push­ing Bridges up, across and over any ob­sta­cle in his way on a long jour­ney to what­ever the fin­ish might be.

On this jour­ney, Sam may die – in fact, it’s very likely Sam will die. But that’s not the end of it – play­ers are sent to a bizarre world, sub­merged in wa­ter and up­side down, where they can even­tu­ally re­turn to the world of the liv­ing and con­tinue. In a Dark Souls-like touch, items lost when dy­ing can be re­cov­ered, and vaguer el­e­ments have been touched on too – play­ers can roam out­side of Bridges’ body, for ex­am­ple, and some (maybe all) of the rain we’ve seen in Death Strand­ing’s trail­ers, known as ‘Time­fall’, is able to age any­thing it comes into con­tact with. There’s a per­sis­tence to the world too, with Ko­jipro cre­at­ing a world that is im­pacted by the player and what goes on around them – ex­plo­sions, say, might cause scar­ring to the ter­rain that re­mains, per­ma­nently. It’s a col­lec­tion of in­trigu­ing el­e­ments, but we re­ally need to see how the sys­tems all play off each other to get a bet­ter idea of how well it’s go­ing to work.

Join­ing Ree­dus, Guillermo del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen on Ko­jima’s list of ‘folk he wanted to work with and now can’, – del Toro with an un­known role, Mikkelsen Death Strand­ing’s an­tag­o­nist – are both

Léa Sey­doux and Lind­say Wag­ner. Sey­doux pre­vi­ously had roles in the likes of In­glo­ri­ous Bas­terds and Robin Hood, while Wag­ner’s cred­its go fur­ther back into the Seven­ties – fans of The Bionic Woman will re­mem­ber her as said aug­mented fe­male, and Ko­jima lists her as one of his favourite ac­tors of all time. Could Wag­ner’s youth­ful ap­pear­ance in Death Strand­ing be im­pacted by the afore­men­tioned Time­fall, thus al­low­ing her to ap­pear as she does to­day? An older woman, in a videogame?! Mad­ness. But it would make sense, in so much as any­thing in this game cur­rently does.

Death Strand­ing will be a sin­gle-player game with on­line el­e­ments, ac­cord­ing to Ko­jima, and his gen­eral ethos sur­round­ing the ti­tle is to of­fer ‘the stick’ – guns, ex­plo­sives, your usual game vi­o­lence – along­side ‘the rope’ – a tool used to bind, to bring to­gether, to keep us close. Ko­jima’s games have al­ways ex­tolled an anti-war, anti-vi­o­lence mes­sage, and while it’s true they did at the same time revel in vi­o­lence and gore, the po­ten­tial is cer­tainly there for a Ko­jipro game – un­shack­led from Kon­ami, un­der the guid­ance of the seem­ingly more amenable Sony – to pur­sue this train of thought more deeply.

So what will Death Strand­ing be? Beau­ti­ful, haunt­ing, melan­choly, ab­struse, atyp­i­cal, pan­der­ing, self-in­dul­gent and im­pact­ful. That’s what we can in­fer for the mo­ment, go­ing on the work of Ko­jima to date. And in terms of the game­play that we’ve wit­nessed, aside from a

UPS de­liv­ery sim­u­la­tor with time-shift­ing rain, it could well be any­thing. And that, friends, is a very ex­cit­ing prospect. Hon­estly, Death Strand­ing could go ei­ther way, but we can’t wait to see more of it.

“A typ­i­cal hero is usu­ally some sort of elite or some­one with A mil­i­tary back­ground. sam is not. he is A work­ing man of sorts — A hand­son pro­fes­sional” Hideo Ko­jima, direc­tor

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