Written by Andre Todman & Cristian Stanic
Recently, at the 2017 Video Game Awards, we were treated to the short film – sorry, trailer – for Hideo Kojima’s latest game, Death Stranding, and it’s left us with a lot of questions.
For those of you unaware of Kojima’s legacy, he’s well known for his magnum opus and basically his whole life’s work up to this point – the Metal Gear Solid series.
Death Stranding’s teasers are beginning to piece together a project that surpasses the familiarity and expectations of the viewer by slowly revealing glimpses of an unfamiliar world filled with strange creatures, an infection, and a small group of survivors.
The strongest hook the game has in its favour is in its ability to confuse, but also fascinate, by successfully building the foundation for a story with intrigue and mystery. Kojima welcomes us into a world with its own rules, characters, and laws, and then leaves us there, stranded and desperate for any answers. The level of bizarre world building present in the trailers is unprecedented for Kojima, and takes some cues from surrealist art, to create a dream-like sense of fantasy to the world that somehow remains believable.
Nothing in Death Stranding feels plausible to the real world; skeletons are soldiers, giant floating figures have umbilical cords that connect to the sea life, and black goo swallows people alive, yet the creativity present in the game wants you to accept this as logical and as a real threat to the characters.
However, the strange elements aren’t without purpose and strengthen the overall message the game is developing. With themes of life, death, innocence, and corruption present in the trailer, Death Stranding is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating games to come this decade, by one of the most talented developers in the industry today.
What the trailers lack
On the flip side of the coin, perhaps there is no meaning to the trailer. Perhaps it really is all just meaningless imagery designed to con fans into paying full price for the latest Kojima rollercoaster. With MGS V: The Phantom Pain receiving a mixed reception from series veterans, many are worried about what is going on with Death Stranding.
In the whole eight-minute trailer, it’s very difficult to discern any of what’s going on. Of course part of it is intentionally unclear, it’s a trailer, which is meant to pique interest and be mysterious by definition. However, even in the MGS V trailers, there was at least a vague sense of what was happening. While hardcore Kojima fans are quick to point out that the trippy imagery in the trailer will probably be explained in the game, the question remains: Is there actually any meaning to this seemingly random imagery? Is there a deep message hiding under all this crazy stuff?
Many fans felt disillusioned with MGS V, and are worried that this new game simply won’t be able to rise to the lofty heights of the original Metal Gear Solid titles. We want to believe that this isn’t the case, and that Kojima still has the ideas, and most importantly, the passion, to create a game that might even surpass MGS as a landmark for gameplay and storytelling.
The game has been hyped for a year and we’ve seen no game play, just a few fancy trailers showing off his admittedly impressive new engine. Despite this, Death Stranding and Kojima merch is flying off the online shelves, which is unprecedented, especially considering the game isn’t even close to release.
The hype is too out of control now, and any kind of gameplay may not be able to live up to the fans high expectations. In any case, it is nice to see that the Kojima fanbase is still alive and well, strutting their colours.
Despite the ambiguity though, fans are ravenously eating up every second of footage of the game to construct meticulous fan theories, and regardless of our hesitations, we’re excited to see what the industry icon has up his sleeve.
So, is Death Stranding just kooky imagery for kooky imagery’s sake, or is it secretly genius? Is it going to live up to the hype? We can only speculate for now, and wait for a release date with bated breath.