Some developers become washed up as they get older. They lose their creative spark. Not Hideo Kojima, though. He has taken the concept of ‘washed up’ and made an entire game out of it.
Death Stranding takes its title from the concept of beach stranding, where sea-life somehow washes up on shore and is left to die. In the case of Death Stranding, however, the shore is the afterlife and the creatures washing up are altogether more creepy.
Hideo Kojima is the genius developer behind the Metal Gear franchise, one of gaming’s most treasured and cinematic series. He was unceremoniously dumped by long-time employer Konami, only to start up a studio of his own, where he has gone on to create Death Stranding, which launches in November.
Initially, Death Stranding was a complete mystery to gamers, but recent weeks have started to shed more light on what the game might be. Here are our top five observations about Death Stranding, ahead of its release:
Delivery service: Sam Porter Bridges, played by the Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, is a delivery man in Death Stranding. The game seems to primarily revolve around delivering packages across huge landscapes, with the use of vehicles to get around and even ladders to climb. But Bridges isn’t a normal delivery man — strapped to his chest is a baby in a tank, wired to his umbilical chord.
Weird and wired: The baby in question seems to be the ‘key’ to travelling between the world of the dead and the living. By connecting himself to the baby, Bridges can see the creatures of the dead around him as they invade the real world. The baby needs to be‘recharged’ at stations and it laughs, cries and gurgles throughout the game. You can even rock the baby to calm it down.
Aiming high: Death Stranding isn’t just a walking simulator. There are enemies to fight and guns to shoot. We haven’t seen much of that gameplay yet — and Kojima himself says the game is about building bridges, not burning them down — but expect traditional third-person shooting to play a large part in the tension nonetheless.
Acting out: While you may see some famous faces in the game, not all of them are played by their real selves. For example, director Guillermo Del Toro’s full likeness is in the game, but he is played by an actor. Thankfully, we get the real deal in Mads Mikkelsen, who appears to play the villain of the piece. (Although with Kojima you never know). Mikkelsen plays Cliff, a military man who seems to live in the world of the dead and commands a small team of elite zombie soldiers.
Taking the piss: Despite a very surreal and psychedelic premise, Death Stranding is likely to be full of Kojima’s trademark silliness too. Not only can you take a pee in the game, but there is a bladder meter that shows how much you have to empty. Once you have finished, a colourful mushroom appears where you did the deed.
People may think Kojima has been eating some of those mushrooms himself, such is the nigh-indecipherable nature of Death Stranding’s strangeness. However, fans of Metal Gear will recognise those traits as something potentially brilliant — and we can’t believe Kojima would really leave us stranded. Death Stranding releases on November 8.
Meanwhile, another platinum developer is, well, Platinum Games. The creators of Nier Automata (and even a Metal Gear entry in Revengeance) have turned their attention to the Nintendo Switch with Astral Chain, a trademark top tier action game.
Astral Chain starts out simply, with you playing as a cop who must clean up the streets of a sci-fi neon city. You have simple move sets, especially for a Platinum game. But then comes the introduction of your Legion, a weapon that you partner with and control simultaneously.
So while the cop hammers away at a weak point of an enemy, the Legion can be controlled with the right stick to distract the bad guy. Things get much more complicated later on, with the chain between cop and legion becoming an opportunity to trip up enemies, can be used as a whip and even to solve puzzles.
Overall, Astral Chain is arguably the best original action game on the Switch and amust-try for newcomers to the genre.