Death Stranding is out and the reviews are mostly positive. Some critics, including VICE’s own Rob Zacny, praised the game’s innovation and commitment to walking slowly across America. Others claim Death Stranding is a pretentious and boring mess. Creator Hideo Kojima believes some of the criticisms come down to Americans' love of first person shooters.
At a Death Stranding event in New York City last week, the Italian website TGCOM24 asked Kojima if he’d read the reviews. “I have to say that the game got enthusiastic reviews, especially in Europe and Japan,” Kojima said in the interview, which VICE Games independently translated. “Here in the U.S., on the other hand, we’ve had tougher critiques. Maybe it’s a difficult game to understand for certain types of critics and audience. Americans are big fans of first person shooters and Death Stranding isn’t one of those."
Kojima said he pushes boundaries and that he’s OK courting controversy.
"But I have to say that Italians or French people have a different artistic sensitivity that allows them to appreciate this kind of very original products," he said, "not just in video games but also in movies."
But Kojima doesn’t hate first person shooters, and I know this because I asked him about them. I was at the same event as TGCOM24.
A central theme of Death Stranding is the idea of the stick and the rope, a concept borrowed from a Japanese short story by Kobo Abe. The stick and the rope were humanity's first tools, the stick was used to drive off enemies and the rope was used to bind what we wanted closer to us.
I asked Kojima if he thought we’d been playing too many “stick” games, playing too many first person shooters where the player kills people.
“No,” Kojima said. “I do like them, I’m not denying that. Human hands are both a stick and a rope. We have both. It’s up to use how we want to use it.”
This article originally appeared on VICE US.