For all the buzz it’s generated at more than one E3 now, there’s still plenty we don’t know about Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s first game since breaking up with Konami — the studio whose partnership helped nurture the iconic Metal Gear franchise into one of gaming’s most memorable settings.
Lindsay Wagner found herself in the same boat when Kojima came calling on her vocal talents. Mistrustful of what she perceived as the violent culture surrounding video games, the Bionic Woman star didn’t know just what Kojima was trying to drag her into, and she was reluctant to agree to lend her voice to just another violent game.
But after a three and-a-half hour meeting, Kojima told Variety, he had convinced Wagner not only to voice a (still-unnamed) character, but to actually get excited about the game’s core concept.
Emphasizing the game’s reported focus on bringing people together rather than merely blowing them apart, Kojima said he told Wagner he wanted Death Stranding to transcend gaming’s long-held pattern of associating player agency with hitting something or shooting it to bits.
“Games have a 30-something-year history that has evolved over time, but games are still about sticks, about guns,” Kojima told Variety. “…What I explained to her is that while this game will have sticks — that the player will be able to use sticks — that is not the concept of the game.”
Kojima invoked mankind’s evolution of a violent toolset of increasing sophistication to persuade Wagner that themes of violence can be explored seriously within a game’s story. All of culture, he told Wagner, developed from the stick — a potentially violent tool — and the rope, which typically serves the opposite function of binding things together and drawing them closer.
“The aim of the game is for the player to use ropes,” Kojima said. “I am making the game in such a way that this comes natural to the player, this alternative, of using ropes. And I went into detail on how I intend to do that.”
It’s an explanation that must have struck the right chord with Wagner, because Kojima said the veteran actor was visibly moved and even welled up with tears during the course of their lengthy talk.
With Wagner on board, Death Stranding’s voice cast is beginning to look feature film-worthy. The game also will see confirmed appearances — whether vocal, as a character likeness, or both — from Norman Reedus, Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen, and Léa Seydoux.
With no release date announced at this year’s E3, we’re still stranded with little more than a growing library of game trailers and cryptic hints from Kojima. Watch this space for the latest news on when Death Stranding will finally wash ashore on PS4 consoles.