Am I wrong to feel cynical about Death Stranding?


#1

There were some headlines passed around recently that almost everyone involved in Death Stranding, from Guillermo del Toro, to the actors involved, down to the development team themselves, do not know what Hideo Kojima is trying to do with the game from a narrative point of view. This was followed up with comments in the vein of “who cares if it’s unconventional, it’s Kojima unchained, getting to do whatever weird things he wants, and we should encourage more weird/off-beat creations in gaming!”.

I’m not feeling it. What we’ve seen is visually interesting and certainly has potential. But I don’t understand the notion that Hideo Kojima has somehow been restrained creatively these last couple decades. Yes, he’s been saddled with the same franchise for years on end, but he’s gotten to do incredibly strange things with each entry that most other big-budget projects largely wouldn’t.

Also his creative output is, uh, kinda fucking creepy? I’m not going to link to S.R. Holiwell’s really excellent essay “Kojima Women” since she took it down and clearly doesn’t want the negative attention that critiquing a cult favorite like Kojima involves. But I would still recommend looking it up though, it’s a deep dive into his early work in how it both objectifies women while also associating femininity with weakness and fragility.

This is still the case to this day, where everything involving Paz and The Quiet both Metal Gear Solid V games is simultaneously very disturbing and borderline fetishistic.

I don’t understand the huge collective enthusiasm for someone who has proven themselves to be creatively irresponsible in their handling of heavier themes, getting a near unlimited budget to go and create a game that’s going to be playing directly against his weaknesses in not knowing how to handle those heavy themes.

It’s not a “we still don’t have a release date or know what the gameplay is!” complaint, I don’t care what either of those are. What I care about is, why cheer on a dude–who has already had a long career of big projects, and has very questionable cultural views–getting an immense amount of funding to create what could turn out to be an incomprehensible mess which ends up cratering an entire studio of people in the same vein as Ion Storm with Daikatana?

Unrelated image:
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#2

Oh no Kojima is a fucking mega creep. The man once made a game where you beat women within an inch of their life and then would pose for you in “sexy” photos if yo pulled a camera out. Fuck Kojima the dudes a creep and real talk he had no business being near Silent Hill so I’m glad PT was canceled it would have been a damn nightmare and not in the way it wanted to be


#3

KOJIIIIMAAAA!!! *shakes fist (This is actually how you write his full name in English) is a hella frustrating individual because he’s done so much good shit that I’m super into and puts it cheek by jowl with shit that would be embarrassing coming from a dude that was still in middle school.

I am gonna take a moment to shout out the decision to have developers get individual, per-mission credits in MGS5 though because that was cool and I think undercut some of the auteur bullshit


#4

I don’t think you’re wrong to be cynical about Death Stranding at all. I am as well, and I like Metal Gear generally, though I’ve always said that I think it’s like a terrible anime I kind of like despite itself, and in most cases I think even that is giving it too much credit. I do have a fondness for Snatcher, though, even if it is just a worse Blade Runner/Bubblegum Crisis.

Kojima is, at best, a mediocre storyteller who has a good grasp on presentation and style.

At worst he’s a weirdly creepy dude who maybe doesn’t have a real understanding of the themes he’s trying to present in his games.

I kind of loved this about MGS V. It was like knowing who wrote which episode of Star Trek or something.


#5

I used to be a massive fan of the Metal Gear franchise when I was younger, but the older I got and the more aware of women being objectified in video games I became, I started souring in on the entire franchise. I never read the article in question, but I don’t think I need to in order to understand the subject. All the way as far back Gustava Heffner and as recently as Quiet, women in the Metal Gear franchise have been chewed up and spit out by men of various relationships to them. All the things of worth about the way he writes women have to be salvaged by a dedicated part of the fandom. I know because I’ve seen it happen time and again with each installment of the Metal Gear franchise.

I’m in full agreement with @VulpesAbsurda in being incredibly glad Silent Hills was cancelled, and I think that the “plot” of PT–yet another dead wife in a survival horror franchise–spoke a lot as to why I didn’t trust Kojima on this project.

There is a naive part of me that’s sad there doesn’t seem to be any women in Death Stranding so far, but the part of me that’s fully aware of Kojima’s history with female characters is like “Thank fucking god”, because the man simply cannot be trusted with them.

Am I curious about Death Stranding? Sure, but I’m not getting invested. My only hope is that it’s just gonna be some weird game about latent male bisexuality, because that’s clearly a subject Kojima is willing to devote more of his time to than women.


#6

Maybe Death Stranding is actually a 4 hour cutscene of Mads Mikkelsen and Norman Reedus boning. I could be there for that.


#7

Advanced Russian Taunting Mechanics.


#8

Personally speaking, I’m not interested because the inhuman abominations we call babies are the laziest thing you can use in a story and need to just disappear from fiction entirely. There is literally no story where they’re central that’s any good, and even actual good ones they’re featured in are always dragged down as a result.

How bad Kojima’s been with women is probably a bigger issue in general, though. I still love the MGS series, but that’s always been a valid criticism of it.


#9

Yeah… I’m sure it’ll be critically acclaimed, and I plan on finding some kind of stream or something to watch, but every time I see a trailer for this thing, the only thought in my head in terms of game is “Oh, this is going to be every single part of MGS that I hated, and made me want to stop playing, but for hundreds of hours, huh?”

Super long, uninteresting, uninformative cutscenes. Bad stealth sections. Frustratingly bland/cliche dialogue supporting a story that doesn’t have anything to say aside from “how clever and tortured a soul must have made me? How art am I? Huh?”

I’m expecting MGSV, but without the fun, without the humor.

(Which, I guess maybe I’m just being cynical? I’ve never understood any of the Kojima fandom so far. I appreciate him as a cartoon caricature of auteur video games, who made a bunch of super cliche, super predictable, boring military stealth games, which said nothing interesting or insightful about war, which were littered with sexism, homophobia, etc. etc.? (I’ll take bad, possibly(?) uninformed takes on Kojima for 5000, Alex.))

Which makes this possibly the most informative/reality check trailer I’ve ever seen for my personal tastes, but I’m sure people are gunna love it? Who knows, I might too. I just doubt it. I wish I was one of those people who will love it, because it looks like it’s going to be wild, and new feeling sci-fi stuff.


#10

What does this mean? MGSV was MGS but without the fun, without the humor. (In terms of tone. The gameplay itself was very fun.)


#11

I know I was on horseback, with a chicken hat and a rocket launcher sending men into space with weather balloons at one point?

That, to me, was humor. That was fun.

I don’t think any aspect of the narrative was amusing/interesting/quality/etc. Perhaps I should have specified that the game had humor, where the writing didn’t.


#12

I mean sure women were written poorly and the games can frequently be lecherous but also I find a huge amount of enjoyment in the MGS brand of postmodern storytelling, the subtle and not-so-subtle pushing back against video game conventions and the experimenting with game mechanics. I can at least look past the bad or tonally gross stuff because overall i enjoy the messaging of those games in the context of portraying war. Sure they’re hamfisted in spots but that’s not a bad thing and I certainly don’t understand why people demand every story be perfectly nuanced.


#13

I think Kickstarter has shown us that letting developers be “unrestricted” is rarely a good thing. Blank checks are not how good games actually get made. Developers can and do often come up with really bad ideas, and it’s people on the publisher side that step in and tell them when things have gone off the rails. That push and pull is the real magic of game development, not letting unchecked indulgence run wild.

I’m not really feeling Death Stranding, either. I mentioned to friends not long after The Game Awards this year that I was “sick of hearing about Death Stranding” because we’d had trailers “for three years” without any signs of what the game actually plays like.

A friend shot back, “Death Stranding was only announced at The Game Awards last year.”

I’m so fatigued not only by 2017 itself, but by Death Stranding’s constant nonsense. This is a game that clearly delights in being confusing, but I’m already over it. I need something more to grasp on to before my interest level will elevate.


#14

The friend’s also incorrect. It was revealed at E3 2016.


#15

I may have been incorrect in quoting the friend, but the message was still “the game’s barely even a year old, what are you talking about”


#16

I think even in the face of Kojima’s issues with how he writes and portrays female characters, the most important anecdote about him is that his team had to fight tooth and nail to get him to let Snake have a keycard that got updated and worked automatically in Metal Gear Solid instead of having six individual keycards one of which would have to be selected and equipped from your inventory every time you wanted to walk through a door.


#17

I bet he didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to let the player perv on Maril changing in MGS1 :stuck_out_tongue:


#18

You’re absolutely not wrong to be cynical about Death Stranding! For me, the current excitement is literally entirely focused on the unadulterated weirdness that’s going on.


#19

I’m not really out here demanding every story be perfectly nuanced, especially since this is Kojima we’re talking about here. Like I’m not saying his games don’t have good points. I’m not saying they aren’t fun, and I honestly do like his absolutely fucking ridiculous way of telling stories sometimes. I don’t like all his story decisions, but hey, sometimes I just feel like eating delicious garbage.

However, sweeping aside the problem he has when it comes to writing and designing women is super not what we should be doing here. Ignoring it in the first place is what probably got us that “ashamed of your words and deeds” horseshit he pulled when people came at him for how shit Quiet’s design was. And mind, that was a response so bad, that lowered the bar so far, that directors have been using ‘hey at least I’m honest about it’ to justify their rampantly horny designs and getting away with it. Usually, at the expense of an entire group of people being too uncomfortable to engage with video games on a meaningful level, because designs and characters like Quiet say something, and that something is not good.

If Kojima pulls the same thing in Death Stranding, I absolutely hope he gets shit for it.


#20

Honestly, I think that the best case for Death Stranding may be that it doesn’t end up coming out at all. That way, just like with the Silent Hills game he was going to direct, everyone can imagine how could the game was going to be. All without having to deal with the bullshit that Kojima puts in his games.

I also don’t think that the game will be nearly as entertaining as experiencing all the weird promotional stuff he does for it.