Could Death Stranding Ruin Kojima?
Death Stranding

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, developer Hideo Kojima stated that Death Stranding will “be something that people can get into easily but after an hour or two they’ll start to notice something a little different” and that “it’s not like anything they’ve played before.” The designer goes on to use music as a metaphor, explaining how “bands that everyone remembers take risks” by constantly changing their music in order to adapt and evolve through time. The designer says that though such musicians might lose fans during this process, they will also bring in new ones. This, Kojima clarifies, is “the kind of approach I want to take with my new game.” Which may or not be a good thing, especially for hardcore fans of Metal Gear. Kojima had also made it very clear that he in no way wants to “re-use assets, ideas or just makes sequels all the time.” Instead, he’d rather the studio focus on each game being an entirely new experience for the player. That’s good, but is leaving the Metal Gear series behind entirely something fans can enjoy?

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There can be no doubt that Death Stranding is different from the other works by Hideo Kojima. The otherworldliness of both trailers are organized in a significantly graduated manner from the Metal Gear series. But what if we don't get to pick up a gun? What if we don't get to sneak around buildings to get the bad guys? Kojima could be constructing an entirely new method of gameplay with this idea of converging film and video game. It could involve a lot less skill and strategy than the Metal Gear series, much like Quantum Break. That game was criticized for its long and quite boring cutscenes (to the point where one's controller turned off) between uninspired gameplay segments. If this were the case with Death Stranding, consequences would be dire for Kojima Productions.

Furthermore, Death Stranding could misrepresent or confuse the strong political and philosophical themes that we're used to from Metal Gear. I mean, I doubt this part too; the very presence of so many symbols in the trailers undermines the possibility. However, the game could very well go the way of Episodes I, II and III of the Star Wars series. In this case, even George Lucas admitted that being in the director's chair had allowed too many ideas to come at once with no way to focus them. Despite Kojima's genius, this could very well happen to Death Stranding too. Too many ideas and no coherent narrative to keep the game together is a possibility.

Death Stranding

I admit, I also fear it might be too artsy, as it were, like Melancholia and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Neither film is bad, they're brilliant, but they could try the patience of any audience type. Nor are they unfocused, but they are lacking in the kind of fast-paced action we're used to in most blockbuster films or high-grossing video games. Some games can do this successfully, like Journey or Abzu, but they aren't for everyone. Metal Gear fans would be sorely hurt if Death Stranding turned out to have more in common with a journey to enlightenment story than political and philosophical reform.

That said, I think despite these strong possibilities and Kojima's desire to create something so wildly different, that Death Stranding will be a good game. The idea that the new game could lack the kind of action orientated gameplay we're used to might not be a bad one. A lack of focus in otherwise strong themes is a problem Death Stranding might suffer, along with becoming too “artsy.” Nonetheless, I have faith in the talent Kojima Productions is building (as most of them are from Konami anyway) and what I've seen so far in the trailers.

Christine Pugatschew
Christine Pugatschew

Contributing Writer
Date: 01/30/2017

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