Death Stranding is out in less than a week, and director Hideo Kojima is dealing with some anxiety. In an interview with BBC’s Newsbeat program, the Metal Gear creator said that he wants people to enjoy the first game from his first independent studio. But he’s worried that you won’t.
“I create my games in the hope that people have fun playing them,” said Kojima. “And that’s where I’m a bit anxious.”
Death Stranding seems like it may end up as one of the year’s most polarizing blockbuster PlayStation 4 releases. It’s a game about delivering cargo and connecting people in a world where connections are potentially lethal. It has already earned praise from many critics.
But, in the end, Kojima wants the game to speak to the audience that has already come to love his past games. That’s why he avoided experimenting too much with gameplay in Death Stranding.
“This game is just a start,” said Kojima. “It’s like [The Shape of Water director] Guillermo del Toro told me — it’s not a way to break out, but to make something that the fans expect. There are new elements to the game, but the basis is something people are used to playing.”
Kojima explains Death Stranding
So what is Death Stranding? Well, according to Kojima, it is about isolation and accepting that you aren’t alone.
“I’m very prone to loneliness,” said Kojima. “I think there are similar people around the world — especially gamers. … When they’re alone playing video games in their living room, they don’t feel like they fit into society or their community. So when people play this game they realize people like them exist all over the world. Knowing that even though I’m lonely, there are other people like me — and that makes you feel at ease. That’s what I want people to feel when they play this game.”
But of course, Kojima is making allegories to real-world politics. That’s something he has always done, and that’s a major part of the themes of Death Stranding. And he spells out the metaphor in case you aren’t sure what it would mean when a game has you building bridges to overcome the walls between people.
“Trump is building a wall, and the U.K. is leaving the EU,” said Kojima. “In this game, we use bridges to connect things. But destroying those bridges can instantly turn them into walls. So bridges and walls are almost synonymous. That’s one of the things I’d like the players to think about in the game.”
While that metaphor will add depth to your actions in Death Stranding, it doesn’t guarantee anyone will find it fun. And to make things even more challenging for the game, Kojima said he specifically wanted to move away from traditional combat.
“The attacks and violence seen online these days are out of control,” he said. “So I designed this for people to take a step back, and — by connecting — relearn how to be kind to others. I don’t think anyone in the world is opposed to that.”
But while people may applaud the message, others might expect Death Stranding hero Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) to have the same capabilities as military badass Solid Snake. That’s not the case. And Kojima focuses most of the game around deliveries and building infrastructure.
So maybe Death Stranding is more of a departure than Kojima intended.
“After spending dozens of hours in the game, you will come back to reality in the end,” said Kojima. When you do, I want you to use what you learned in the game. Connecting is one of those things.”