Sometimes, there are games where it can feel like a project is being hyped beyond its means. There is nothing substantial to merit the popularity, but some element has caused fanaticism. No Man’s Sky is one such game, a title that did not start to even make good on some of its most important promises until nearly two years after its launch. Now, it looks like Death Stranding is shaping up to be another. This PlayStation-exclusive seems to have a cult of personality-like cloud around it, causing fervor when there is little there to merit it.
In case you somehow missed all the convention and award show trailers and segments bringing it up, Death Stranding is an upcoming action (or maybe adventure) game from Hideo Kojima, the creator of Metal Gear. Actors and celebrities like Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Guillermo del Toro, Lindsay Wagner, Emily O’Brien, and Troy Baker are all a part of the cast. There is a weird baby that appears to live in Norman Reedus’ character’s stomach, but is occasionally also carried around by Guillermo del Toro. We have only seen less than 15 minutes of gameplay total so far, which is odd considering it was officially revealed in 2016.
Really, that is all we know. Footage shared by Kojima ahead of or at major events all seem to consist of the same sort of scene. Reedus’ character, Sam, is wandering around a desolate space. Shadow monsters may or may not attack. We see creepy baby either inside of our around Sam. Maybe there is Mikkelsen’s character being creepy in a sewer. Oh, and we know it has an open world that retains damage done to it, even if the Sam character dies and revives.
I mean, after the 2018 Tokyo Game Show, there were news stories about Death Stranding’s release date not changing, even though the game does not have a release date. Let me repeat that. It was considered news that Kojima said the release date for the game, a game that has not yet been given a release year, let alone specific date, has not changed. That people were making a big deal over something so trivial was crazy.
Speaking of the 2018 Tokyo Game Show, do you know what one of the biggest Death Stranding draws was? Aside from Troy Baker being revealed as a possible antagonist and the Japanese cast appearing, Kojima Productions was selling merchandise. You know, in case you needed keychains and tape or other items for a game we all haven’t learned anything substantial about. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I feel it is a little arrogant and shortsighted to be trying to make a buck off of something when you can’t even tell us the basic premise of the game.
The hype train all seems to revolve around the idea of Death Stranding, rather than Death Stranding itself. We see lots of pictures of Kojima with the actors. They are all buddy-buddy and happy together. Some of the people taking part even admit they don’t really know what is going on in the game. One of the more famous quotes in 2017 was Mikkelsen saying, “[Kojima] was trying to tell me the whole plot of the game, and it’s so elaborate that … I mean, I got lost.” It is like the people and merchandise are props to sell the idea of something, rather than the actual thing.
People are smart. Especially after games like No Man’s Sky burned them. If it starts looking more like Death Stranding is a straw house, it is going to get called on it. Affection for Kojima, desire to see him finally collaborate with Reedus and Del Toro on something, and vagueness will only go so far. People are going to tire of seeing slightly different takes on the same old footage repeatedly. If Kojima Productions doesn’t start offering some substance with this style, the bubble is going to burst and people are going to find some other game to fawn over.