Monday, 26 Feb 2024

Sakurai’s Got Some Positive Things To Say About Death Stranding

In a new column for the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Masahiro Sakurai, famed creator of Kirby and Super Smash Bros, has just shared his thoughts on Death Stranding. It may not be surprising that Sakurai had mostly praise for the recent release, given his friendship with Hideo Kojima – a friendship that was responsible for the inclusion of Metal Gear protagonist Snake in the Super Smash series. However, Sakurai doesn’t just offer blanket approval; he also offers insight into what makes the game work from a uniquely game design-focused point of view.

Sakurai opens by specifying that he intentionally went into Death Stranding knowing as little about the game as possible, which he compares to taking first steps in recently fallen snow. He confesses that it was difficult to put the controller down while playing, as he was compelled by the game’s originally and a desire to experience whatever might happen next. Although he anticipates that some might not be fond of the repetitiveness of the delivery missions, he says that he loved them.

Focusing on the game’s design, Sakurai acknowledges the limits of Kojima Production’s small (for a AAA title) and quickly-formed development team and praises them for accomplishing what they did with their limited resources.

For instance, Sakurai explains that creating and designing various kinds of enemies is tough and can quickly monopolize time and resources. He argues that what Kojima Productions did instead was turn the terrain itself into an enemy. If this was indeed the design philosophy of those behind the game, it certainly explains the limited number of BT types. Likewise, while the majority of dialogue occurring through conversations with holograms might sound like a workaround to theoretically reduce the need and desire for player interactivity during these moments of dialogue, Sakurai found it to fit well within the game’s world.

He largely limits his criticism to the way that text and prompts for input from the player are sometimes too small (an issue that will soon be patched) and the preponderance of the game’s small, protruding cliffs. The latter is less a serious issue and more just something that’s made virtually everyone who’s made a delivery near Mountain Knot City similarly frustrated.

A full English translation of the article is available via @PushDustin and @nokoloc on Twitter.

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