A beach full of dead whales. The actor Norman Reedus, known from the TV series The Walking Dead , kneels naked in the sand, with a baby in his arms and tears in his eyes. Already the first trailer of DeathStranding at the trade fair E3 in 2016 creates confusion: Does that mean anything? Its game, Japanese designer Hideo Kojima later said, was about a completely new genre, a "social beach game". Central topic are human connections. And with a closer look you can see it then: All whales have umbilical cords, which lead back into the sea.
That gamer regularly get rid of the reality and each other is one of the most persistent clichés about computer games. The industry has been working against it for many years. At this year's Gamescom, the community was celebrated under the motto " TheHeart of Gaming ", streaming is an interpassive mass phenomenon and at e-sports events, the winners are regularly in the arms. Hardly a game can do without a multi-player component, and where the online connection is missing, you can at least distribute virtual hugs or pet dogs.
Nevertheless, the social vocabulary of digital games remains limited. Even emotions such as love and hate are determined according to fixed rules and numbers, such as how much affection is needed to pair two snappy sims in the same game. Multiplayer experiences are largely based on numbers, how many opponents you have carried into the afterlife and have achieved their own successes. DeathStranding wants to broaden the idea of social gaming by allowing players to experience "connections and support" from other players they do not see themselves during the game. They should get the feeling, "not to be alone". So it says Hideo Kojima.
Since the release of Death Stranding in early November, opinions have differed as to what the game really means. For some reviewers it is a modern classic, in any case, one of the best games of the year. For the others it is boring, pretentious garbage. Which is true in any case: whales and umbilical cords are just two metaphors among many that Kojima leads - and which stand in the way of their own ambitions again and again.
Anime meets Hollywood
A disaster ("Death Stranding") has plunged the world into chaos. Dead ("Beached Things") return to this world via an intermediate world ("The Beach"). Where they come into contact with the living, huge implosions ("voidouts") arise. Alienated, humankind reverts to bunkers and communicates only through a "chiral network," while freelance parcel carriers ("porters") carry goods between the cities of the United Cities of America.
For fans of Kojima, this is not new. An overloaded plot of predecessors such as the iconic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion meets Hollywood staging. Ellenlange film sequences alternate with sophisticated game systems. Shameless product placement for energy drinks equates to literature references. It's been around in Kojima's MetalGear Solid : The fifth installment of the series is the codename of the protagonist, Ahab, led by Ishmael through a tutorial, and flipped around by a helicopter called Pequod - all names from Moby Dick .
Herman Melville's novel is proposed for the fight man against nature on and after paging for several pages on the spermaceti organ of sperm whale fast back to. And DeathStranding loses itself in the middle of the existentialist soap opera again and again in Fachexkursen: Every idea, philosophy, designer glasses and personality that Hideo Kojima finds interesting occurs. The author as the label of the game world.
So then the premise of the "Social Strand Game" from the beginning on shaky feet. In game mechanics, the egocentric misunderstanding of community continues seamlessly. In the hiking boots of protagonist Sam Porter Bridges, portrayed by Norman Reedus mentioned above, the players transport, in the figurative and literal sense, bridges through a devastated America. Each rescue package delivered from one bunker to the next creates new trust among the survivors, restrains the outside world with infrastructure bridging, and earns likes. For the game world is at the same time a social network; the paths of the players cross each other again and again.