Death Stranding is owned by Kojima Productions and Sony Interactive Entertainment
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty down on Kojima’s latest game for a while now. Sure, we all got caught up in the hype when we first saw naked Norman Reedus and were left wondering what could all that nudity mean, but by the time that Del Toro got his own trailer and the babies became more and more… prominent (let’s go with that word) in the narrative, it all felt like a splash of cold water on the face; a revelation that he may be throwing things against the wall to see what sticks rather than doing something with any real thematic heft to it. But I could be wrong! I fully admit that watching trailers like this aren’t always a clear indication of what the final product will be like, such as the case with Dead Island or even The Order 1886, and frankly it all feels very intentional; as if he’s trolling for hundreds of videos breathlessly narrating their ideas of what this could all be about, and playing into that game is harmless but feels rather futile. Still, I’ve also been trying to get better at judging films in a non-literal fashion, and Kojima is if nothing else a VERY frustrated filmmaker! Until someone in Hollywood gives him a chance to direct something he’s gonna take it out on all of us by making the most bizarre and ludicrous trailers imaginable for supposed video games, and while I can’t really get mad at it, I just don’t feel the hype anymore. But hey, I’m already here and there’s a new trailer out with ACTUAL gameplay footage, so let’s at least take a look at what we know so far and see if there’s anything worthwhile to gleam from all this!
…What? – The First Two Trailers
As I said, I gave Kojima a lot of credit for that first trailer which was strange, provocative, and surprisingly vulnerable with some clear themes about loss, grief, and the way that male identity (in how we are socialized) play into those experiences. It sets a very apocalyptic tone with the dead animals, the copious amounts of oil (or an oil like substance), and the washed out aesthetic which goes along with the idea that this world is dying in some way. Not a bad way to kick things off, and Kojima couldn’t have been more popular at the time due to his recent fallout with Konami which made it a perfect storm of intrigue and feel good sentimentality. By the second trailer though, I was starting to get worried. Yeah seeing Pappy McPoyle (also known as Guillermo del Toro) carrying around a baby in a war torn city did advance the narrative at least somewhat since we know how some other people are reacting to the end of the world, but I don’t think the trick works twice and this felt more like a holding pattern than anything else. When we should have been getting hyped for the GAME, it was still being incredibly coy about everything. Now we had to start asking questions about the weird fetus thing, the black goop that keeps showing up, and new things like the soldiers with skulls for heads being lead around by Mads Mikkelsen! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Mads Mikkelsen, but I was starting to get a bad feeling that Kojima left entirely to his own devices is gonna end up missing the forest for the trees when developing this.