THE NEXT STEP IN A NEVER-ENDING JOURNEY
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