That Hideo Kojima makes games with “weird” storyline probably comes as no shock to people familiar with his work. It might also help that a lot of this weirdness came through in one of the biggest video game franchises of all time, Metal Gear Solid. But one thing is certain: When it comes to Hideo Kojima and his work, practically no one stands in the undecided middle. And while he has legions of fans, he also has a lot of detractors. All of this brings me to the central question of this article, which is “Will Death Stranding test the market viability for avant-garde video game narratives?”
Definitely, but probably in a way that we don’t expect or couldn’t have ever anticipated. This is because Kojima is, if anything, a master of his craft. Whatever weird concept Death Stranding holds at its core will be more than backed up by gameplay.
Speaking of the storyline, Kojima said, “People have created ‘Walls’ and become accustomed to living in isolation. Death Stranding is a completely new type of action game, where the goal of the player is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. It is created so that all elements, including the story and gameplay, are bound together by the theme of the “Strand” or connection. As Sam Porter Bridges, you will attempt to bridge the divides in society, and in doing create new bonds or ‘Strands’ with other players around the globe. Through your experience playing the game, I hope you’ll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others.”
If that doesn’t underscore that we are in for a wild ride, then we don’t know what else will.
How exactly will Death Stranding challenge video game narrative? For one, it will put it back at the centre of the gaming experience. The motto that “single-player is dead” is a very real thing if you look at many of the games coming on the horizon. Multiplayer is easier to monetize, for sure, but single-player gaming is what brought us here. It sounds like Kojima is going to put the player at the centre of the narrative experience while simultaneously taking advantage of the possibilities for connection available in modern games. Just like the Metal Gear Solid series revelled in meta moments that broke down the barrier between gamer and game, it is probable that Death Stranding will do the same thing but in a much different way.
If successful, it could give a huge boost to all of the other experimental games out there because, if anything, Death Stranding is going to be king of the hill when it comes to this type of game. We’re always begging for devs to try something different and Death Stranding will challenge us as to how far we are willing to go with our bottom dollar to support that notion. In that way, it will challenge the market’s taste for experimental narratives because, if it succeeds, other publishers will be more willing to take a risk, but if it fails, then we can expect more of the safe and same.