Lockdown. Self distancing. Self isolation.
These are the terms that we are all currently dealing with these days because of the fast spreading coronavirus or COVID-19.
You’re probably in a country with reported cases of people infected with the virus. It’s scary times when you have to be careful when it step out in public and be hype aware of what you touch and who you’re exposed to.
Over the past few days, I couldn’t help but notice how the world we’re currently living is slowly becoming like the world of the game “Death Stranding” from Hideo Kojima.
This might sound far fetched but if you’ve played this game all the way to the end and have soaked up the storyline, you will see parallels with what happened in Death Stranding’s gaming world with what’s happening now in real life.
I completed Death Stranding almost two weeks ago and I can’t help but notice how much perspective I got from playing a video game.
The themes of Death, the afterlife, human connections, evolution are all on display throughout the game.
Firstly, I’m going to talk about the game itself, avoiding major spoilers and then I’m going to try and show parallels between Death Stranding and the real world we’re living in with COVID-19 on the loose.
The World Of Death Stranding
Death Stranding is a video game which is totally different than the average open world games you’re used to.
You play the game as Sam Porter, a “delivery” guy who delivers packages. Sam is living in a post apocalyptic America where his job is traversing over long distances, to deliver packages to individuals. In the game, Sam doesn’t physically interact with people he delivers to, but instead, he gets a hologram of the individual whenever he makes a delivery.
As you make more deliveries and progress through the game, you get to understand why most people are living in isolation and in far off distances and not physically interacting with each other. (Sound familiar…)
The world of Death Stranding is largely empty. It’s very dead and hollow with practically no signs of life. Sometimes, it’s eerily serene with no one to interact with when delivering a package (although you occasionally come across some enemies known as MULEs. More on that later)
It’s fair to say this game is “unconventional”. If you’re used to fast paced action, you might need to reduce your expectations if you ever decide to play Death Stranding. The game has kind of been dubbed as a “walking simulator” and with good reason.
But it’s not all “walking” throughout the game. You get access to vehicles such as electric bikes and tracks which help make travel faster.
There are some segments later in the game where you do use weapons, which have similar mechanics to games like Metal Gear Solid. Those segments turn the game from a “walking simulator” to an action game real quick.
Funny enough, you’re advised to not “kill” anyone in this game because of several “reasons” (spoilers) [Seriously! Don’t kill anyone!]
And there are boss fights later in the game and they are very interesting.
Largely, Death Stranding feels like a large cinematic experience rather than a typical video game. In typical Kojima fashion, there are lengthy cutscenes that you will have to sit through to understand the storyline. Honestly, I feel like the storyline and cutscenes kept me going.
Traveling through snow, mountains and valleys in this 50+ hour game (less if you stick to the main missions) will reward you with the unravelling of the mysterious Death Stranding and why the world is in the state that it currently is.
Where is everyone? Why is this rain weird? And why are those floating spirits and why are they here?
Those are questions you’ll ask yourself at the start of the game. But by the end, you will have experienced a lot of emotions and be more connected with the main character as his back story is revealed along the way.
The World Of Death Stranding and Similarities To Our Modern Times With COVID-19
With the advent of COVID19, the world is embracing “self distancing” and social isolation to help contain the spread of the virus.
Areas and places which were once filled with people are now virtually empty. More countries are restricting movement outside and to bars and restaurants.
Public places like parks, restaurants, cafes, sports areas are slowly shutting down and people are panic buying in stores and being stuck in their homes.
Some places like Italy are slowly looking like ghost towns with people mostly staying indoors.
One of the themes in Death Stranding is “human connections”. In the game, Sam delivers packages as well as connect people to “the chiral network” (think of it as a getting hooked up to super fast internet).
By connecting people to the network, they can get access to large amounts information, request for urgent supplies and connect to other people on the network.
We aren’t in a full blown crisis yet with no availability of internet or network but we are using our current technology tools to stay in touch with each other. But many places will have to figure out later on how to get supplies like food and household necessities if things ever get worse. (Maybe start hiring “Sams” to do the job of delivery services)
In times of panic, there are always bad actors doing unscrupulous things like price gauging or stocking up on supplies to later sell at higher prices. That’s no different in the world of Death Stranding. In the game, there are enemies called “MULEs” who attempt to hijack and steal packages that you’re attempting to deliver, which they keep for themselves.
In times of crisis, people always have selfish motivations. MULEs aren’t the only ones with selfish motivations as you encounter other characters known as “Homo Demons” and their leader “Higgs” who has his own selfish motivations.
With the spread of the coronavirus, countries are having to resort to drastic measures including closing borders.
Selfish? Are self preservation?
Coming Together For Humanity
It’s eerie how a video game is somewhat manifesting in real life.
Hideo Kojima said he made Death Stranding to show how isolated someone can be and how by being “connected”, it can help push humanity forward. Although the game doesn’t have “multiplayer”, players who are connected online can actually have an impact in your play-through. Other players can build bridges which can be used by other players who are online.
Ladders, hanging ropes, shelters etc can left behind or built in Death Stranding and other players can make use of them.
In my playthrough, someone built a freaking highway which made travelling way more efficient and faster (Kudos to all Death Stranding players).
In this real world, where we are still all connected, people are doing their best to help each other with online resources. Companies are offering to suspend fees, payments, mortgages and more as people go through hard times.
Most of us are currently in isolation. We have to isolate for the sake of not spreading or getting the virus.
It’s similar to Death Stranding in a way because most of the humans in the game are also isolated and unwilling to come outside. For those characters, it’s fear of MULEs, the crazy rain which speeds up time called “Timefall” and the floating creatures known as “BTs” which can virtually drag you to the “other side” if you know what I mean….
If you’re into storytelling and don’t have trouble with an “unconventional” video game, I HIGHLY recommend Death Stranding.
For a video game, it has a lot of depth and honestly, if it could be made into a movie, it would actually be a very good one.
It’s hard to explain everything that occurs in the game without spoiling it. There are lots of consistencies with that world and what is currently going on now with COVID-19
I think we’ll be alright in the end. We just have to keep healthy and keep going.
In Death Stranding, it feels like the end of the world. But as you progress, you learn that there is hope for humanity as you connect more and more people onto the network and progress through the game.
In Death Stranding, the world almost ended. But it didn’t.
I think the same can be said for the real world.