The highly anticipated game that Hideo Kojima has been incubating for the last three-ish years is finally out–Death Stranding is now available for purchase for on the PlayStation 4. The PC version is also up for pre-purchase on Steam and Epic Games, to be released next summer. So far, reviews say it has been worth the wait.
The first teaser that came out at E3 2016 was a creepy-cool trailer of a very naked, CGI Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) on a post-apocalyptic beach. There was a newborn, handcuffs, some floating people in the sky, and a lot of confusion from the audience. Over the last few years, we’ve gotten glimpses into the world of Death Stranding, but no tangible story to sink our teeth into, until now.
Kojima–who is best known for his work on the Metal Gear franchise–parted ways with Konami in 2015 and has since been working under his independent label Kojima Productions. He has something of a cult following, and has been lauded as a creative genius. Through his writing of the first Metal Gear, released in 1987, Kojima was able to anticipate to an extent the effect of the internet and technology on society. He has continued to channel his worldview into his games, as is evident in Death Stranding, stating in an interview that his new title is about bringing the world together and rediscovering human connection in spite of physical and emotional isolation.
The protagonist of the new title, Sam Bridges (modeled and voiced by Reedus), is America’s last delivery man tasked with the challenge of reconnecting cities and communities across the country. Though he travels through the environment mostly on his own, there are some other key characters who you’ll see help build the world of Death Stranding. Alongside Reedus, you’ll see some other familiar faces–Guillermo del Toro makes an appearance as Deadman, and Mads Mikkelsen of Hannibal portrays Cliff, one of the antagonists. And, if you know anything about voice actors, the legendary Troy Baker plays the masked main baddie, Higgs.
While Death Stranding is a sci-fi game, the story, characters, and even the fictional elements all seem to deal with very human themes of loss, isolation, and hope. Putting extremely relatable emotions in very foreign environments and situations is usually what helps make a sci-fi/fantasy title great. Additionally, one of the most interesting aspects of the game is that, despite not being multi-player title, players from all over the world can help each other indirectly through their actions. This completely aligns with what Kojima is trying to convey about socialization and connectivity.
Through Death Stranding, Kojima wants people to rethink what communication is, and it’s evident that he wants to make an impact on the players of his new game, not just in the virtual world, but in the real world. At a time where people feel uniquely connected yet divided through social media, the message Kojima hopes to convey may be one we all need to hear. Hopefully, players will take away something positive from the experience, and not lose too much to the abstract elements of the game.