Leading up to the release of Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima wanted to stress that it was a new genre. He called it a “Strand” game to signify the idea of players working globally together for a common goal. Not only that, but it served as a core theme for the story.
The big question is if he succeeded in creating a new genre, or not. Sure, Death Stranding, despite similarities to other games, is a unique and weird snowflake. At the same time, it is a mishmash of other stuff in order to create something new. We broke down what it brought to the table and what it borrowed.
10 New: Non-Lethal AAA
Kojima Productions is working with Sony to publish this as a console exclusive for PS4, but it will hit PC next year. Despite Hideo Kojima being a big name, for all intents and purposes, his studio is an indie company. Therefore, Death Stranding then is an AAA indie game with non-lethal tendencies.
The core of the game is delivering packages. These are not side quests. This is the game! To have something like a walking simulator, to be pejorative, on this level is astounding. There is combat, but very little.
9 Old: Metal Gear Says Hello
It’s hard not to talk about Metal Gear in the context of this game. Sure, it is sold as a stealth action game, but while Snake isn’t delivering packages, he too can make non-lethal takedowns. It’s one of the reasons why that series has always been so refreshing in the industry.
Sure, one could gun everyone down, but allowing players the option to be a pacifist is something more games need to try and achieve. Getting back to Death Stranding, it may have stealth, but it is clunky compared to Metal Gear.
8 New: Asynchronous Gameplay
The biggest thing that sets Death Stranding apart from its competition is the asynchronous gameplay. At the most basic level, players can leave signs in their world that will randomly appear in someone else’s. This can range from signs of encouragement to warnings of disaster.
That’s all well and good, but being able to crowdsource buildings through gathering materials for bridges, or roads, gave us such a great feeling of community. Not only were we helping ourselves, but others in the process. That sense of networking is really the “Strand” that Kojima wanted to promote as a genre.
7 Old: Dark Souls Says Hello
Despite the level of cross networking that Death Stranding achieves, it is not the only asynchronous game out there. One of the earliest came in last generation: Demon’s Souls. Players could leave messages that would appear in someone’s game.
Not only that, but allies could be summoned to help out in boss fights, or could even come in for a duel. This spawned many sequels following the same idea from Bloodborne to Dark Souls. It’s different, but Death Stranding definitely borrows from these principles.
6 New: 3D Printing Building
Let's go back to building stuff for a second. In most builder type games, that is the core of the gameplay, which is usually in something like a survival game like Rust. Find materials, build equipment and structures, and survive in the wild for as long as possible.
From making exoskeletons to alleviate Sam’s load to ladders that can help with steep climbs, item creation is different in Death Stranding as everything made is used to help out with delivering packages. There is no real survival aspect to it.
5 Old: Minecraft Says Hello
We already gave it away with that explanation, but even though Death Stranding is not, at its core, a builder, or survival game, there is no escaping the similarities. The biggest one of the past decade has to be Minecraft.
It pretty much created the genre. Heck, it’s so big that Square Enix even took notice and made a clone for their popular Dragon Quest franchise, aka Dragon Quest Builders. While Minecraft is all about building with friends in the same world, due to the crowdsourced building via the asynchronous gameplay, there is an element of that too in Death Stranding.
4 New: Climb Everything
Even though it may be difficult to climb up a mountain due to uneven landscapes causing one to have to constantly balance Sam’s load, it is certainly possible to go anywhere in Death Stranding.
The cliché thing to ask is, “See that mountain, you can go there.” That was a big marketing push for Skyrim, which really opened up the open-world genre. The point is, permitting one is skilled enough, everything can be explored within limits.
3 Old: Breath of the Wild Says Hello
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, without any sense of hyperbole, changed the open-world genre. Nintendo called it an “open-air” game so even though that too borrowed from the open-world genre like Skyrim, it was its own thing.
This is the exact same idea Kojima has with Death Stranding. While it could be considered a new genre, could it exist without the success of Breath of the Wild? Nintendo did start the climb anything mentality based on stamina so there is a link, or in this case a 'Link.'
2 New: Horror
Death Stranding has some horror elements, primarily with the stealth BT areas. They aren’t as horrifying as something along the lines of Outlast, but it builds tension in a good way.
Adding in these elements in what is ultimately a walking sim is a hybrid no one has really done before, or at least, not on this grand of a scale.
1 Old: Silent Hills Says Please Come Back
We changed the header style for this one because it is too obvious not to bring up. While Kojima was finishing up production on Metal Gear Solid V, he also released P.T., which was a surprise demo/teaser for Silent Hills.
This was also going to star Norman Reedus before the project fell apart when he left Konami. While Death Stranding isn’t a horror game, as we already said, keeping Reedus and having BTs could have been from his time working on Silent Hills. We’d like to see a sequel, but we also want him to finalize his dream of making a real horror experience.