Since its reveal, nobody has really any idea what the hell Kojima Productions and Hideo Kojima’s debut title, Death Stranding, is actually about.
Some fans are even joking that Kojima himself has no idea what the game is about. In a new interview between Kojima and IGN, the creator has tried to explain the game’s story, gameplay, and more. The latest trailer for the game seems to have created more questions than answers, in typical Kojima fashion.
Here’s a brief gathering of the various snippets from the interview:
- One of the themes of this game is life and death. So I want people to realize that when they die in the game, that isn’t the end.
- Partway through the latest clip from Death Stranding, Sam (played by Norman Reedus) watches as an explosion engulfs the giant, Lovecraftian-kaiju that projects through the fog. Suddenly we see an upside-down world submerged in water, where Sam exists among the flotsam and jetsam of the universe around him. From the sound of it, this is where Sam, and the player, go every time they die. But don’t make the mistake of calling this “game over.”
- When you die in Death Stranding, you’re transported to this purgatory, where you’re free to explore in first-person. Because of some mysterious “unique” abilities Sam possesses, you can wander outside of your body, recovering items among other things. As Kojima explains, “At that point, you’re not dead or alive. It’s the equivalent of that screen that says ‘Continue?’ and a counter ticking down towards zero.”
- When you’re ready to return to the world of the living, you can get back into your body. However, unlike most games which set you back to a point before you died, Death Stranding acknowledges your defeat, and seems to even embrace it. You’re transported back to the world after your death — like in Dark Souls or roguelikes — where your actions maintain an aura of persistence. The mechanic of “dying” is ubiquitous in video games, but it sounds as though Kojima is implementing systems inspired by purgatory and reincarnation as well.
- In the most recent trailer, you might’ve noticed a mystical, unnerving rain that seems to have the ability to manipulate time. It makes plants grow and wilt the second a droplet hits them, and it makes a human body age and deteriorate in a matter of seconds. That rain, which is not of this world, is called “Timefall,” and it is an integral part of Death Stranding’s story and lore.
- The baby that washed upon a shore, transported into a tube, and appeared inside Sam’s esophagus was one and the same. He confirmed that it was. The baby relates to game mechanics as well as the story as a whole.
- From the newest trailer, it seems like the baby is more than just a plot device. As Kojima explained, “The baby relates to game mechanics as well as the story as a whole.” It seemed like the shoulder-mounted robotic arms attached to Sam and his Corpse Disposal Team 6 pals sparked to life when that person came in possession of the baby.
- The mechanical arm is going to play an integral part in Death Stranding. We asked Kojima if the robot had a name (of course it does) and if he would be willing to tell us the name now (of course he isn’t).
- In regards to multiplayer, Kojima said “That’s also one big part of the game I can’t talk too much about, but I definitely want to try something different for online.” Despite the fact that he’s focused 100% on the continued development of Death Stranding, that doesn’t mean he isn’t up to date with the latest controversies in the gaming sphere. “I think there are a lot of people out there who still enjoy single-player games, aside from some microtransactions,” he explained with a smile.
- Kojima talked up fan theories, including whether the name “Porter” on Sam’s uniform is his last name or his job, to which he said “There’s some truth to it, and there’s some part that isn’t necessarily true to it.”
- In regards to whether or not the recent trailer was gameplay, Kojima notes it was running on the Decima Engine, and it’s earliest thing we’ve seen from the game chronologically. In fact, it occurs shortly after the game’s prologue, which would explain why Sam doesn’t have the pronounced C-section scar that was in the initial reveal trailer.
- The SAG-AFTRA strike of this year delayed their motion capture work. “I also had a hard time because I had Norman and Mads texting me asking what we were doing and I’d say ‘There’s a strike, there’s nothing I can do about it!,’” Kojima said. With the strike finally over, Kojima and his crew commenced full performance capture sessions last week.
- Many onlookers have said that it appears like Kojima is just traveling around the world and having fun, to which Kojima said “But that couldn’t be further from the truth.” It was clear that this weighed heavy on his shoulders. “We’re waiting for the right moment to show gameplay, but right now we’re on track with the project.”
- Kojima said they’ve been working with the Decima engine over the past year, and if there are things they don’t know, “we ask them [engine creators Guerrilla Games], we make some requests. On our end, of course, we use the Decima engine very differently from the way they use it, especially when it comes to the cutscenes. So we make our own things there, and send it to them, show it to them, get their feedback. We are at that pace, currently.”
- Kojima said “If you have a company, if you already have an engine, you already have the tools and the team together, and even then, it’s pretty standard for a AAA game to take three to five years to develop their games. For some games, it can take up to 10 years.”
If you’re still totally clueless and or confused by everything shown for the game thus far, Kojima said “Everything makes sense. Everything will come together.”
Death Stranding is currently in development for PC and PlayStation 4.