Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Carlo's Take: What is Death Stranding - Speculation!

Ever since its reveal in this year's E3 Sony presentation (which had an amazing turnout of games), people have been speculating over what Kojima's next project, Death Stranding, will actually be. And with a Sony Conference right around the corner which could reveal more details on the game (or Red Dead Redemption 2, fingers crossed), there's no better time to talk about them.

Some have suggested a horror game, based on Kojima and Norman Reedus' previous (cancelled) collaboration project, Silent Hills. However, based on an article by Zam, Kojima has been quoted as saying:"It will be an action game if you really want to put a genre on it". That puts genre theories to rest, and probably saddens some of those hoping for a spiritual successor to Silent Hills.

An "Action Game" is a rather generalised genre though, so there are plenty of possibilities as to what the gameplay may actually entail. Any differences to previous experiences will be felt after the starting hours of the game, at least according to GamesRadar. Kojima likened it to how his famed Metal Gear franchise was considered an action game but had its now iconic mechanic of polished stealth and was bolstered by the franchise's equally recognisable story and lengthy Hollywood-esque cutscenes. .

So what will this game's unique mechanic/themes be? We have a few clues to work with.

Firstly, it involves a metaphor Kojima revealed - ropes and sticks. Action games of today feature the use of "sticks", in order to keep enemies at bay, i.e. the use of guns, swords, etc. This new I.P seeks to implement "ropes" into the Action genre, to "tie people together".

What accomplishes that? Not something very simple to figure out- it isn't like one can just google "opposite of sword" or "opposite of gun" to discover what it could possibly be.  It could involve the mind however, as Kojima talks about how people are connected in terms of psychology, and how the aforementioned connection between peers is called "strands". Considering one of the words in the game's title is "Stranding" that could be a big clue. Or perhaps it's something much less subtle, like a survival game where you're alone, hence also "Stranding". While I think Kojima could produce a game of that nature, this just doesn't seem to be it.

No details about any multiplayer,other than it is a "new system". Not much we can go on there, but it could be any number of things, such as other players influencing your gameworld without being present, or seeing and interacting with the playerbase seamlessly.

Last but not least, Kojima looks to shake up the prospect of life and death when it comes to gaming. "In arcade games, you have this notion of dying, putting another quarter in." "In this game, life and death will be part of that, but I want to give a different twist to that notion". Now we have an idea of a possible mechanic...one that involves a twist on constantly resetting a level. Maybe it could have something to do with random generation or a different version on each life, think Silent Hills' resetting hallway loop, or switching perspectives somehow? In terms of themes, life and death were present in the reveal trailer, with the baby representing life, and the dogtags, fish corpses and possibly flying bodies representing death.

In the end though, it is very hard predicting what a mind like Kojima's can produce. The man made a psychic that could read your game saves, a man who's prosthetic hand actually possessed him by either nanomachines or psychic connection (two theories on that one), and gave gaming the biggest bait-and-switch of all time in the form of a certain blonde-haired now badass cyborg ninja. Who knows what he'll come up next?

One thing's for sure: he's had an excellent track record when it comes to games, and I for one am super hyped to find out what he has in store for his audience without Konami's input.

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