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You don’t get me! Hideo Kojima’s deflection of ‘Death Stranding’ criticism shows genius developer is now a pretentious narcissist

Sophia Narwitz
Sophia Narwitz

is a writer and journalist from the US. Outside of her work on RT, she is a primary writer for Colin Moriarty's Side Quest content, and she manages her own YouTube channel. Follow her on Twitter @SophNar0747

is a writer and journalist from the US. Outside of her work on RT, she is a primary writer for Colin Moriarty's Side Quest content, and she manages her own YouTube channel. Follow her on Twitter @SophNar0747

You don’t get me! Hideo Kojima’s deflection of ‘Death Stranding’ criticism shows genius developer is now a pretentious narcissist
The divisive new title by Hideo Kojima is already leaving gamers split on their views towards the storied game developer, but now his narcissism, big mouth, and fragility to critique is souring people even more.

While speaking to an Italian website at a New York City event centered around ‘Death Stranding,’ Mr Kojima discussed how the game received rave reviews in Europe and Japan, but that in the United States criticism is harsher. He attributed this up to Americans’ love of first-person shooters, and that other countries are more accepting of artistic projects.(author’s note: some publications are reporting that he said his game “flies higher” than FPS titles. That is a mistranslation)

As can be expected, gamers found themselves annoyed by his condescending rhetoric. Who knew that audiences don’t particularly enjoy the implication that they’re dumb brutes who only like games that go ‘pew pew pew?’ 

Kojima’s snobbery explained

The arrogance on display is an interesting turn of events as the central premise of ‘Death Stranding’ is about reconnecting an isolated America, so it sure says a lot that the visionary behind it thinks the West is too dumb to understand it. Perhaps this is due to Kojima’s own self-obsession and his need to be considered a “creator with an auteurist approach.”

RT

In previous games he makes cameos, and in ‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ he plastered his name to the opening of nearly every mission. But such actions always came off as part of his goofy charm, something which is at odds with ‘Death Stranding.’ 

He touts this creation as an entirely new genre of game, but that is patently false. It certainly innovates upon what’s come before, but a new genre this is not. The ‘social strand system’ was already in the ‘Souls’ series as throughout those titles players can leave messages to aid others, and ‘Death Stranding’ is the same. As you play and connect the world to the so-called  Chiral Network, items or tips from other player’s worlds appear within yours, and these help to navigate the game’s treacherous environments.

Though given the influential life Kojima tries to lead, I can see why he’d try to cement his status as the creator of something entirely new. He loves to show off about all of the people he meets, the special events he attends, and the gifts sent to him by major film and game studios. In many ways, ‘Death Stranding’ is emblematic of this as celebrity cameos and corporate product placement are scattered everywhere.

To call this title self-indulgent would be an understatement. It exudes narcissism and condescension.

Across the globe the critics are split

Reviewers have a weird way of describing ‘Death Stranding.’ Even positive analysis has labeled it as an “easy game to complain about or even be angry at,” or as a game that is “just so much better as a piece of art than it is as a game.” These are descriptions that don’t exactly make it sound fun, and the pretentious and narcissistic design of it has caused other critics and gamers to take notice. Which is why some scores are middling. 

RT

Hell, when broken down, Kojima’s statement about Americans doesn’t hold water. On Metacritic, the lowest review comes from Australian website Stevivor, which gave it a 3.5/10. The only other outright bad score comes from American website Giantbomb. That’s it, those are the only two horrible scores. As for those with ratings in the middle, of the 12 that exist, five stem from the US, tying it with those from Europe.

To continue using Metacritic as a metric, none of the 21 most highly reviewed games of 2019 are even first-person shooters. But please, Kojima, tell me how American critics overly value FPS.

Further mudding his comments is a controversy coming out of Japan. The country’s most well known gaming rag, Famitsu, gave ‘Death Stranding’ a perfect score, something it’s only done 26 times in its 33-year history. A problem, however, is a blatant conflict of interest as its former editor-in-chief, and current president of the magazine’s publisher, Hirokazu Hamamura, appears inside the game. 

Nowhere in the review is this disclosed, and adding to the ordeal is that Famitsu’s mascot appears within the game’s world, and this is also now the third game in which Hamamura has appeared that received perfect scores from the publication. So maybe it’s best not to tout Japan’s rave reviews. 

Parcel delivery simulator 2019

Corruption within gaming media is nothing new, so while it’d still be worthy of discussion and criticism, much of this wouldn’t matter if the game was fun, but with 35+ hours dumped into it, I’m ready to say that I think it kinda sucks.

I can comfortably state for the record that I completely despise it. Not because I don’t understand it, or because I only play shooters (I don’t), but because it is a tedious and annoying experience. 

The game is about delivering packages, and you’ll spend dozens upon dozens of hours trekking an uninspiring and obnoxious game world, all in an effort to be told to return from whence you came with yet more luggage. The game is masterful at wasting the player’s time. 

For example, there’s a forced animation that takes 10 seconds, and it pops EVERY SINGLE TIME you enter an area with an enemy known as ‘BTs.’ Making it worse is the fact that before the animation pops up, the game enters slow-mo for a split second, then brings your character to a complete stop to show off another animation, culminating into the one mentioned already.

Devaluing the experience even more is that BTs are not scary or difficult. I’ve never once died from them, and navigating around them just involves slowly crouch-walking and occasionally holding your breath. It’s slow and tedious to say the least. 

Love and hate

No doubt people are enjoying ‘Death Stranding,’ and their opinions are equally valid, but for Kojima to write off all criticism of his product as being beneath him, and everyone else who doesn’t agree as just dumb is misguided and obnoxious.

All creators make bad products, and Kojima is honestly my all-time favorite game developer. I have a deep love for ‘Metal Gear Solid,’ so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But if this is what his games are going to be post-MGS, and if, more importantly, this is what his attitude is going to be like, then maybe he should move to film as he so clearly wants to do, because as it stands now, I don’t think I care to see what comes next. 

But what do I know, I’m just a dumb American who only likes guns.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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