Let’s be clear, we would love to play Death Stranding. Hideo Kojima makes fantastic games and we’re excited about anything he’s working on. His unique vision for games ensures that whatever title he works on will be a unique gaming experience; we may not always love it, but it’s always memorable and interesting. In addition, Norman Reedus is a fun actor and we love him on The Walking Dead. He has a great face for a gaming character and would be a perfect post-apocalyptic wasteland scavenger or battle-hardened space marine or (of course) zombie horde survivor (though we still maintain that digitizing actors is overrated). This is the kind of game we could obsess about and spend a lot of time speculating over. What kind of character will he be? What kind of gameplay should we expect? These may be fun and entertaining exercises, but let’s be perfectly clear: this game is never coming out.
How do we know it’s never coming? Well, first, this preview is really no more substantial than the preview we saw at the end of PT. It’s a lot weirder, to be sure, but there’s no hint about the actual gameplay or what the game will look like. Even Star Wars 1313 provided some really exciting gameplay for us to look at before it got cancelled; even that old Indiana Jones title had some neat battling for gamers to see and it still never materialized. Here we have far less than that and, to us, it feels exactly like the announcement for Silent Hills a year ago, only this time we don’t get a game as awesome as PT to play as a teaser. Second, we don’t have any specifics about the gameplay at all. Kojima has described the game very generally and hasn’t provided any specifics. When games are this conceptual and this far from turning lofty ideas into solid gameplay experiences, gamers are always advised to be cautious.
And, to be clear, the ideas here seem to be very lofty. Kojima gave this great interview to Wired magazine in which he discussed a number of interesting themes and fascinating game concepts, but he’s really, really vague. So vague, in fact, that we may be reading into his words more than is actually there. That said, we are intrigued about his idea of sticks and ropes and building games about connections between people rather than games where you kill a lot of people (we’re finding more and more days in which we’re not in the mood to shoot things in games). Games have depended for far too long on guns and swords to deliver gameplay; finding new things for players to do during gameplay is always a noble endeavor. We’re not sure what Kojima had in mind, but we certainly would never underestimate his ability to be creative.
But gaming these days means controlling expectations. Games (and movies) we’re extremely excited about almost always wind up disappointing us. Meanwhile, games (and movies) that slip under the radar have a chance to really amaze us. As much as we want to get excited about this title, the smart thing to do right now is to keep our expectations in check. To be clear, we would love to be wrong and to see an awesome, innovative, unusual title appear at an upcoming E3 that makes great use of Reedus’ acting and Kojima’s imagination. Right now, though, we’re filing this game in the Games We Will Never See folder, right between Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Halflife 3.