Masahiro Sakurai is impressed with Hideo Kojima’s unique open world experience.
Death Stranding has divided people since its release last month, with some criticizing it for being dull and boring, and others showering it with praise for its mechanical depth and how unique it is. One person who falls in the latter camp is Masahiro Sakurai, creator of the Super Smash Bros. series, who was full of praise for fellow eccentric genius Hideo Kojima and his game in his latest column for Famitsu (via VGC).
“I think that Death Stranding is a remarkable product,” the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director wrote. “I’ve been playing feverishly until the very end. The game has a lot of originality, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s truly one of a kind! Some people may not enjoy the missions, but I love them.
“I completed them without any complaints. The insane world has mysteries from the very beginning to the very end. It was so hard to put the controller down because there was always something interesting up ahead.”
Sakurai also praised Kojima Productions for being able to create the game they did with the constraints they faced, including the short development period and the fact that the team started from scratch when development began, while also highlighting examples of how Death Stranding effectively worked around such limitations.
“While players often feel that games are worlds of unlimited possibilities, they’re actually quite limited. It takes time and labor to create them,” said Sakurai. “With that in mind, a development team’s ability and what they can reasonably create has to be considered… In the case of Death Stranding, the production team was quite unique. The team was formed quickly, so it’s clear the team utilized great game design within their limits.”
“For example, making many different enemies is difficult, so the game makes terrain itself an obstacle,” he continued. “
Making lots of backgrounds is also tough, so it utilizes rooms for the cutscenes. And, lots of people in the game are holograms, removing the desire to interact while talking.
“These things don’t contradict the setting. Creating an open world can even be challenging for an experienced team, too. Creating a wide environment within their abilities and turning that into a challenge complements the game design and highly synergizes with it.”
“Absolutely, making a work like this with that kind of production period is really amazing,” Sakurai added. “I’m learning from Director Kojima’s abilities because his work shocks me so much with its varied meanings.”
Sakurai also mused about the possibility of a sequel. Kojima himself has talked about potential Death Stranding sequels, and how – if they were to exist – they would have to start from zero. Sakurai, however, doesn’t seem to think a sequel to the game is even needed.
“I wonder, since a sequel isn’t likely, what’s coming next?” he wrote. “Thinking about sequels worries me. Thoughts about sequels are natural – but saying things like that so often might cause the gaming industry to get caught up in them.”
If there’s one game developer in Japan who can go neck-to-neck with Hideo Kojima in terms of craziness and eccentricity, it has to be Masahiro Sakurai, so it’s great to see one admiring the work of the other this way. And it’s not like Death Stranding doesn’t deserve praise either- our own review was full of praise for the imperfect yet beautiful game as well.
Death Stranding is out now for PS4, and will be releasing for PC next year.