A few months back, after the release of a new Death Stranding trailer, I noted that I was feeling “cautiously optimistic and warily pessimistic” about the whole affair. Today, upon seeing more footage of the game, including gameplay, that was shown at Gamescom’s opening night, I’m feeling fairly certain that Death Stranding is probably not the game for me. This feeling doesn’t concern magic mushrooms, unusual cameos, or motion-controlled baby-rocking. I get it, it’s Kojima. Death Stranding will be the exactly the game he wants it to be. I’m also not putting down the game generally. There are droves upon droves of people who are extremely excited for this game. You might be one of them. That is cool, and you are awesome! This game was never a true “must buy” for me. After seeing this new content, it’s now on the “wait and see” list, because I can’t make heads or tails of it.
Video from YouTube user Gamespot
The new Death Stranding footage, while revealing more character information, also reinforced what Kojima has been saying about the game for a while – Death Stranding is still all about building bridges between worlds and forging connections. The new videos made clear that two worlds exist in the game – the Real world and the Other world, and the two collide in unusual ways. The now-famous Bridge Baby that the main character Sam carries around in its pod is something of a link between the two worlds. It’s also how Sam can detect the game’s ghostly enemies.
With the help of a very expandable ladder, and surely other tools in Sam’s enormous carry-all, exploration of the real world, carefully and mostly alone, appears paramount. Combined with the game’s previous trailers, which were more well-populated and action-heavy, its seems like Death Stranding might present a good mix of solitary roaming, engaging combat, and worldly character development. There was a reference made to the fact that, while not a multiplayer game, players would see indications of other players in the world. And again, everything comes down to connections – between players, characters, Sam and the Bridge Baby (I’m guessing), the “east” and the “west,” the Real world and the Other world.
Death Stranding is…I don’t know what it is. During the festivities, Mr. Keighley mentioned that this game is a new kind of genre, the “strand genre.” Is this a thing? Aren’t there already games out there that focus on making connections, like Journey? If there’s one that this keeps me interested in the game, it’s this notion that keeps coming up that it’s unlike anything else; that Death Stranding will be in a category all by itself; that it will somehow defy expectations. I may think it’s not the game for me right now, but maybe I’ll be completely wrong. Kojima noted that we’d likely see even more footage of the game at next month’s Tokyo Games Show. I will be watching, and eating my words, if warranted.
Lede image from Death Stranding press kit © Kojima Productions.
I think that “strand genre” comment was a joke of sorts. Based on everything I’ve seen of the game, I don’t think it fits easily into any genre in particular. It’s something different. Is that good? I don’t know. Like you, I think I’m going to leave it to other people to make some sort of sense out of it before I consider trying Death Stranding for myself.
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Everything about this game has seemed so serious (if tongue-in-cheek) lately, so I totally missed that Keighley could have been joking with that comment! I’m all for genre-busting in games, but sometimes having a basic mold is a good thing. It’ll will certainly be interesting seeing what kinds of rules this game breaks, or makes.
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