Three years in the making, Death Stranding, the product of video game savant HIdeo Kojima, has finally hit the market. The cinematic wonderland found within Death Stranding has quickly caused the game to become one of the most polarizing in recent memory. With some fans entirely encapsulated, lost in the quality graphics and breathtaking generated recreation of a disjointed America, others are quick to call the highly anticipated release boring and utterly disappointing.
With a star-studded cast, Kojima recruited the likes of Norman Reedus, Léa Seydoux, Guillermo Del Toron and more to connect the video game’s world to modern culture. In spite of its blockbuster cast, the game has been described as a glorified walking simulator, existing somewhere between a groundbreaking venture and Amazon prime delivery roleplay. Others see beyond the ideas of delivery and trivial tasks and take the game as a representation of modern America, the concept of human connection, and the general nature of loneliness.
As a major contributor to culture beyond video games, Kojima made sure to not only incorporate a star-studded cast of actors but even a notable team of musicians. In order to complete the ideal virtual universe, the iconic creator needed a cast to score Death Stranding and give life to the world he created. With acts such as The Neighbourhood, CHVRCHES, Khalid, Major Lazer, Bring Me The Horizon, and more, Kojima captured the game’s sound with some of the best talent possible.
The world of Death Stranding has been coveted as one of the best of its cohorts, presenting a unique take on a disjointed, post-apocalyptic America. The landscape is a cinematic experience, enough to stop you in your tracks. Tracks such as “Ghost” by Au/Ra and Alan Walker capture the game’s take on this sense of grandeur and subsequent isolation to beautiful effect. With a futuristic beat and reverbed vocals, the lyrics echo, “I’m so scared that I’ll end up alone,” a concept heavily addressed as players walk for miles in a sparsely populated virtual world.
The game’s soundtrack also features the title track by CHVRCHES, another futuristic pop take that serves as the game’s anthem and plays during its closing credits. The track features various existential lines that are well representative of the themes brought forward in the gameplay, with lead singer Lauren Mayberry positing the line, “What will become of us now, at the end of time?”
Moments such as this match the underlying goals of Kojima’s ambitious, if at times flawed, Death Stranding, crafting a take on the human experience that offers countless opportunities for reflection. Musically, CHVRCHES brings forward pitched vocals that sound nearly robotic, often reverbed to send the listener into a trance. The production is mostly handled by dramatic ambient synths and various futuristic percussions that capture the post-apocalyptic sound and elevate it to an even grander existential level.
In its entirety, the release of Death Stranding is a historic venture for one of mankind’s greatest auteurs. Rather than crafting another first-person shooter, the creator of Metal Gear Solid took several risks that will either prove themselves or fail dramatically.
In an America on the brink of destruction, players will find themselves roaming an unforgiving landscape, delivering packages to an otter-suit-wearing Conan O’Brien, marveling at cinematic cut scenes, and existentially jamming out to a dramatic post-apocalyptic pop playlist. Kojima has crafted a user experience that will go down as either one of the boldest and innovative of the times, or a middling affair carried by the weight of its overwhelming sense of atmosphere and mystery; only time will tell.
Listen to DEATH STRANDING: Timefall below: