Another year, another 30 minutes spent completely awestruck with the genius of Hideo Kojima.
One of the most highly anticipated games of the last decade and a half comes compliments of one of the industry’s most respected, and certainly its most cerebral, creators. “Death Stranding” has been teased to within an inch of its life since 2015. Connections and conspiracy theories abound, but nobody is ever truly sure what’s going through Kojima-san’s mind until they actually play the game — and even then it’s a toss-up if you’ll really understand the depths of his storytelling.
Prior to this year’s E3, we were already privy to some of the characters and design of the game. For instance, we’ve known Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead,” “The Boondock Saints”) is going to act as the protagonist and at least one playable character. We know that Mads Mikklesen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Doctor Strange,” “Hannibal”) is going to play a role. In Kojima-san’s 2017 presentation at the Game Awards, we even got a little Easter egg of Guillermo del Toro, a former collaborator.
However, this year fans were not only gifted with an expanded vision of some of the stunning environments and the complex storyline. This year’s E3 presentation also revealed two female characters played by Léa Seydoux (“Isle of Dogs,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) and the legendary Lindsay Wagner (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Paper Chase,” “The Bionic Woman”).
As usual, Kojima-san was very tight-lipped about the details of what we saw during the “Death Stranding” presentation. However, we did get a name for Reedus’s character — Sam Bridges. We also found out during his after-presentation interview with Geoff Keighley that he’s the only playable character in the game. And miracle of miracles, we got what appears to be some game play as well.
While even that was vague and gave very little in terms of the actual plot or action, we were further gifted with the brilliance of the design, more of Kojima-sans signature attention to detail — raindrops on the screen, for example — a bit of a closer look at the landscape and even got a bit more detail about the antagonists — seemingly god-like creatures who influence time and space by pushing it violently forward.
We still haven’t seen many clues as to the significance of the baby, but it seems the Sam Bridges character is a “porter” — a group of operatives whose mission is to escort both the living and the dead to an unknown destination. Beyond the very terrestrial landscape, there is a “town,” which Seydoux’s character eludes to walking into before she bids Sam farewell.
The audience at Sony’s conference was left befuddled, astounded and all-around gobsmacked with a game we’ve been waiting for for the better part of four years now.
Hideo Kojima is no stranger to leaving audiences utterly amazed and flummoxed. His long-standing history as the creator of the Metal Gear Solid franchise culminated in what would ultimately be his last title under Konami, “Phantom Pain.” Kojima-san’s somewhat troubled past with Konami would come to a head in 2014 with the release of what fans eagerly anticipated as the return of the Silent Hill series to its former glory prior to Team Silent calling it quits with “The Room.” Murmurs of a troubled relationship between Kojima-san and Konami found ground when the celebrated creator left the company, deserting what was sure to be a powerful comeback for one of the most highly lauded video game franchises of all time. The nod to del Toro at the Game Awards was nothing more than a middle finger to Konami who had a team made of creative masterminds, including del Toro and manga legend Ito Junji only to let it all slip away because they couldn’t have their way.
(Yeah, I still feel a certain kinda way about it. Forgive me for being petty.)
With his offering at E3 this year, Hideo Kojima has yet again given fans much to look forward to. No doubt fan theories have surfaced within an hour of the conference. But just like everything else Kojima-san has ever created, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to dig even deeper into the mythos, philosophy and emotional core of “Death Stranding.”