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    Death Stranding 2 Exists, and I’m Glad It Does

    Experimental games have a place in the industry.

    I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of the original Death Stranding. That statement may sound contradictory to my excitement for Death Stranding 2, but I will elaborate to the best of my ability. The original game is something I can only play when I’m in a very specific mood. When I’m in that mood, Death Stranding satisfies it better than almost any other game title on the market, with the only exception being Euro Truck Simulator. It’s not a game I can entirely say is my cup of tea, but I absolutely adore aspects of it.

    The moody atmosphere, the importance of traversal, the interesting world, and the superb soundtrack make it hard for me to not enjoy the original game at least a little bit. I can’t say I love every aspect of the game either, but in a roundabout way, that’s what I respect about it. Death Stranding isn’t a game that cares whether you like it or not. It refuses to exist on any other terms than its own. In short, this is why I was excited to hear that the game would be getting a sequel at the 2022 Game Awards. You may still be a bit confused by what I mean though, so I will elaborate more.

    The Unapologetic Vision of Hideo Kojima

    I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Hideo Kojima is quite the character. He knows what power his name has in the industry and he obviously enjoys it. I can’t fault him for this. If I made a franchise as iconic as Metal Gear, I would probably be playing up my character quite a bit as well. It’s what makes him a memorable and endearing personality. This personality can be found throughout his games, as he often makes bold creative decisions with the least amount of compromises possible.

    This is what made Death Stranding possibly the purest Hideo Kojima experience. No longer held back by the shackles of Konami, Kojima was free to work on whatever project he could get funding for. As you may guess, it didn’t take too long for Kojima to get that funding. The result of this was a somewhat polarizing game that didn’t back down on its vision. Some thought the game was a boring slog, while others believed it to be a misunderstood masterpiece. We happened to give Death Stranding a glowing review.

    I might not agree with every design choice in Kojima’s games, but that’s what makes them undeniably his. I don’t think I’d want him to change his infamously long cutscenes with dialogue and themes that are about as subtle as a fire alarm. If you forced Kojima to remove those elements from his games, it would damage the artistic integrity of his projects. His design choices may lead to a less widely appealing product, but I believe the game industry could use more unapologetic artistic visions.

    The Niche Appeal of Death Stranding 2

    A screenshot of Fragile holding a baby from the Death Stranding 2 reveal trailer.

    One of my biggest gripes with modern, big-budget titles, in general, is how “safe” they are. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every AAA game, but the game industry is bigger than ever now, and games are more expensive to make. Companies can’t afford to take as many risks since projects require huge investments. This results in many games feeling formulaic and focus-tested, mostly because they are.

    Thanks to the power of Kojima’s name, Death Stranding could essentially be anything it wanted to be. It could pretty much break the rules of AAA game development as much as it wanted to, and so it did. The gameplay loop in Death Stranding is something that most big companies would never greenlight if it wasn’t for Kojima’s name. I don’t necessarily blame them, as it would probably be hard to turn a profit without his name attached.

    None of this is to say the gameplay loop in Death Stranding is bad. The niche nature of it is why I’m so excited that Death Stranding 2 got greenlit. If the sequel can continue to prove that there is an audience for this sort of game (the original managed to surpass 10 million players with the inclusion of the Director’s Cut), it gives me hope for experimental projects within the game industry. Death Stranding 2 isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and I think that’s a great thing.

    Unique Game Experiences Are Important

    Death Stranding

    I love David Lynch movies. Despite this, I don’t blame anyone for not enjoying them. You may disagree with his approach to filmmaking, and that’s perfectly understandable. However, his impact on film and television is undeniable. His willingness to break convention made for some extremely influential projects such as Twin Peaks. I believe the same mostly applies to Kojima when it comes to video games.

    Kojima may not have invented the stealth genre of games, but he certainly played a very important role in the genre’s history. Similarly, Death Stranding did not invent the delivery simulator, but it did expose it to a much wider audience than before. Death Stranding 2‘s existence is evidence that Kojima’s experiment has been at the very least somewhat successful, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

    I may not enjoy every aspect of Kojima’s games, but his unwillingness to compromise on his vision is something I greatly respect. Death Stranding is a breath of fresh air in an industry that isn’t as open to experiments anymore. I want more big-budget titles to feel distinct from each other, and Death Stranding 2 may be a sign that there’s a desire for more experimentation within the industry. There’s also the fact that I will get to explore more atmospheric environments with wonderful audio design, which is a pretty nice thing if I’m being honest.

    Itch
    Itch
    Itch has a strong passion for PC gaming and retro consoles (especially the Dreamcast). From Melty Blood: Actress Again to Forza Horizon, he will play just about anything that catches his eye. Ever since playing Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit as a young child, he has been in love with the medium of video games and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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