Now I’m not normally one to buy into the hype around marketing materials, but during Sony’s E3 Presentation I experienced something weirdly profound. It was about 3am BST, and I wasn’t exactly in the most lucid of states, and then Hideo Kojima comes on stage with this:
Now that’s a compelling introduction to a new IP. There’s so many immediate questions it raises, such as the floating objects or the confusing title, but what I love about this trailer is it’s primary focus on the Norman Reedus character. In other words what I think is successful is that the majority of the mystery and questions being raised are focused on a personal level: Why is he naked? Why the handprints all over him? He’s clearly lost a child, but how and why? Why the hallucinations? As a trailer it reminds me of the work of David Lynch. I have no clue what is going on here, but I am desperate to know more about the naked man crying and hallucinating on a lonely beach.
I also think the repeated use of “oil” as an image perhaps calls to the central theme of the game. Kojima is known to deal with real world issues within his work. The Metal Gear franchise, for example, deals with the nature of warfare and how things are perhaps manipulated by those who would benefit by a permanent state of war. In the Death Stranded trailer the oil primarily takes the form of man: whether it is the ghostly handprints, the baby handprints on Reedus’ leg or the puddle of oil he wakes up in, the oil is always linked with humanity. Towards the end of the piece, the point of view expands outwards to look at the destructive power of oil. The dead crabs from the opening few seconds pale in comparison to the thousands of dead fish, and several dead whales lying on the shore. This perhaps suggests that Kojima is aiming to explore environmental issues within his next game; the destructive force of this world seems to be intrinsically linked to Norman Reedus’ character, perhaps the game will be exploring Humanity as a destructive concept in the face of nature/environment?
Obviously a lot of this is all speculative at the moment. It may turn out none of this is true, and I didn’t even consider the one previous promotional still (Reedus plays an astronaut). But even so, this trailer intrigues me with both it’s depth and it’s obtuseness. I’m getting a very strong Twin Peaks-esque vibe every time I watch it, and that is getting me very excited. Death Stranding is no doubt a long way off, but it’s initial announcement means I’ll be watching it’s development with great interest.