Hideo Kojima Claims Most Bad "Death Stranding" Reviews Are From America
The Reviews Are In
With the launch weekend now past, the reviews are flocking onto the internet for Hideo Kojima’s new epic game, Death Stranding. The game has shown to mixed reviews around the world. However, most of the reviews scaling from Japan have been nearly perfect, as for the Europe gaming scene as well, showcasing positive feedback for the game. Where the reviews are flunking are, in fact, from the United States.
Why is this?
The game is set in an apocalyptic United States, as a mysterious catastrophic event, aptly named “Death Stranding” has created terrifying invisible creatures to roam the land, said to be the link to the afterlife. The country is in ruins, leading much of the population to form hubs of community like colonies called “KNOTs”. Because of these colonies being spread out across the massive land of America, delivery people are necessary in supply shipments to and from each colony. The player takes on Sam Porter Bridges as he is tasked with connecting the colonies and delivery goods. Horror soon sets in as the player is forced to confront these invisible creatures head on in daring treks across the land.
Kojima Comments on the Reviews
Game director Hideo Kojima has already thought these wavering reviews through, way before the launch of the game. He recently spoke about this mixed response in an interview with Italian publication Tgcom24 at a Death Stranding event in New York City; “I have to say that the game got enthusiastic reviews, especially in Europe and Japan. Here in the U.S., on the other hand, we’ve had tougher critiques. Maybe it’s a difficult game to understand for certain types of critics and audience. Americans are big fans of first-person shooters and Death Stranding isn’t one of those.”
Essentially, no one can please everyone.
And Kojima is certainly aware of the gaming market around the world. In fact, in the United States for the past decade, most of the top selling games have been first-person shooters, hailing from the World War II centered Call of Duty series. However, top selling games in Japan consist of Monster Hunter World, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts, which are all heavily action-adventure types. Games in line with Death Stranding’s genre. While, there’s plenty of cultural analytics to dive into, one thing for certain is that the difference in genre sales don’t lie.
Kojima has stated that he was pushing the boundaries with Death Stranding, even saying he developed a new genre never seen before.
“But I have to say that Italians or French people have a different artistic sensitivity that allows them to appreciate this kind of very original products,” Kojima continued on to say, “not just in video games but also in movies.”
What Do Gamers Think Of The Game?
While some American fans may take offense to such a statement, becoming offended may be proving Kojima’s point. This game isn’t a first-person shooter; thus the action isn’t in the player’s face at all time. Many American gamers enjoy that type of gameplay. That being said, Death Stranding has a number of unique action scenes, from tactically fighting invisible monsters to surviving old time war battles. The stealth in the game isn’t meant to create action, it’s meant to create impact. Players feel a different level of anxiety from playing an action-adventure game than playing a first-person shooter.
But the action isn’t the point of Death Stranding. If it was, there would be more bullets flying. Even while playing, the game states that killing people will create “voidouts” in the land. This means corpses can trigger a massive explosion that wipe out everything in its surroundings and the player is instructed to avoid such devastating consequences. Essentially, when Kojima is complaining about the American critics, he's saying they are completely missing the point of the game.
A central theme in Death Standing talks about rope and creating knots to secure connection across the ruined United States. A connection that the player can truly feel when participating in the game. As the player wanders through the torn American landscapes, little boxes are left from other deliverers. Also, there are bridges to help with the journey and vehicles to use in times of need. All of these are created and left by other gamers from around the world to aid in the quest. There are beacons left in the world, showing encouragement with the phrase “keep on keeping on”, left by other players looking for a connection. And more so, believing in a connection.
This connection, is indeed, real. Kojima has brought the world together with nothing but a lost delivery box and some crafting material. A feat other game directors haven’t succeeded in.