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‘Death Stranding’ Wants People to Connect Again

Underneath all of the standard Kojima weirdness and style, Death Stranding is really about just one thing: connecting. 



Death Stranding is a game about a lot of different things. It’s about couriers criss-crossing post-apocalyptic America. It’s about interdimensional ghosts called BTs and special babies who can detect them. However, underneath all of the standard Kojima weirdness and style, Death Stranding is really about just one thing: connecting.

While the more overt goal of the game is to reconnect a fractured future America by travelling across the country and extending a network of cities and outposts, this idea of connection goes even deeper. Death Stranding isn’t just about the idea of connecting, it’s about the process of it.

Like Dark Souls before it, Death Stranding is a lonely game. Most of the time you spend playing it you’ll be alone, and fearfully vulnerable because of it. Also like Dark Souls, though, you’ll encounter other players primarily through how their actions have affected the world around you. Players are encouraged to leave helpful messages, donated gifts or leftover tools behind to help others, and doing so is a truly rewarding experience.

We’ve all been the person who needs help in our lives. Whether through money troubles, relationship problems or a more dire situation, all of us have had to ask for help in our lives. The more alone a person is, the less people they have to ask for help and that’s why Death Stranding always wants to remind you that you’re not alone. Even if it’s just a ladder or rope to help you scale a cliff or cross a river, players are always helping each other out, either outright or inadvertently.

This help fills the player with the spirit of generosity in turn, making them want to pay it forward by helping other players who are blazing their own trail behind them. Having been helped out plenty of times in their playthrough, Kojima and co. hope the player will turn around and help other players in need.

It’s a novel idea and one that forms the central theme of the game. Sam, the protagonist of Death Stranding, even suffers from a condition called aphenphosmphobia: fear of being touched. The metaphor extends itself into Sam’s past where he felt let down and abandoned by his family, and his body, covered with painful handprints of the BTs he’s encountered. Still Sam, like the player, is constantly encouraged to reach out and connect with others in this troubled world and cannot succeed truly without doing so.

As noted in interviews, Kojima was inspired by Donald Trump and Brexit to create this story. He noted how separated the US and Great Britain are under these divisive forces, and wanted to build a game where people would connect with one another rather than fighting over political and ideological differences. Kojima also noted the irony of the internet, which connects us all to one another, yet often leads users to withdraw from one another into smaller communities of like-minded individuals.

Hence the idea of uniting under a great threat and working together to overcome our differences. Death Stranding doesn’t want us to feel so alone, and thus, literally and metaphorically, encourages us to find and connect to one another, regardless of our differences. It’s not necessarily a major surprise to see Kojima come up with a story like this. After all, his Metal Gear Solid series often featured scenes where the heroes and the villains connected with one another over tragic confessions and professional admiration.

In some ways it’s a truly beautiful idea. While, again with some irony, the game itself seems to be dividing people in significant ways (some gamers have taken to review bombing Death Stranding on Metacritic) the notion itself is a powerful one, and makes Death Stranding one of the most interesting games to come along in a good, long while.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.



  1. Juril Moone

    November 10, 2019 at 2:17 am

    OK, this Kojima’s weird obsession with ‘connecting people’ is just getting out of hands. He should be in the TV-show “My Weird Obsession” and he is running after people with a strand of umbilical cord trying to connect them together, with weird style of Human Centipede, or something. I mean girl, she needs help!!

  2. DevilGearHill

    November 10, 2019 at 5:42 am

    All the good intentions can’t excuse the game’s monumental flaw of not being fun.

    No metaphor is worth sacrificing player’s entertainment and wasting his time walking from point A to point B for over 40 hours.

    Has-been genius Kojima. Go back and replay your own PS1/PS2 games, educate yourself on what “fun” is.

  3. Muslimbacconator

    November 10, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Made a game so bad people want to get off and connect with people. I can see it.

    Dude just needs to go and make movies already. Death stranding was a joke. People who “like” the game are a bigger joke. Losers desperately wanting to fit in. Pro tip. Sometimes, people make objectively bad games. This is one of them. No gameplay to stand on and that is THE ONLY thing to be taken into account when objectively reviewing a GAME.

  4. Harry Morris

    November 10, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    I love how divisive this game is. It creates lots of interesting debate about art and entertainment, and in an industry where every cookie cutter release is bombarded with 9/10s, that dialogue is exciting and needed!

    • Mike

      November 13, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Agreed. Really I’m just excited to see a triple A release take so many chances.

  5. Ricky Fernandes da Conceição

    November 10, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    The last thing I want when gaming is having to connect with total strangers while playing a game. That is why I don’t play stuff like Overwatch. I rather connect with people in real life.

    Everything about this game makes me think it isn’t for me. But I do admire the shit out of it. But it seems like something I might enjoy looking at rather than playing.

    Curiosity has me wanting to try it but I also don’t want to pay the money for a game I may likely not enjoy so I’ll wait for when it is on sale one day.

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