Death Stranding: How the sound makes us less of a journey

This video game title has challenged many barriers within the Triple A market, its proposal challenges a new way of understanding the blockbuster that in turn, is a challenge to its director to differentiate himself from his original works in Konami, the Metal Gear Solid saga.

Hideo Kojima presents this dystopian work as a social critique of the different socio-political movements in both Europe and America, which in turn reflects on how we are really connected in society with the internet and social networks. The video game proposes a series of different concepts both at a narrative level from the author and at a playable level.
The proposal proposed by this work demands a lot from the average player in an adventure where it has both serious flaws and great successes but that nevertheless, leave a unique sensation and manages to refresh the market of blockbusters.

The videogame itself proposes a 50-hour to across the map as we deliver packages that in turn, we connect in a neural network (a kind of internet) to the destinations that we need to reach.
This idea thinks the character’s natural movement and animation with other factors. Even so, the gameplay mechanics are not solid enough to carry us through so many hours of play. Then, to make the journeys work is its sound design and soundtrack. They are very well cared for and placed in every second of every place we will find ourselves in.

Hideo Kojima, explains in the development of his work, he was in Iceland as a base concept for his landscapes and the space that will be used throughout the adventure. He listened to Ryan Karazija’s Low Roar and bought the CD. The work revolves around this album not only as a character to understand and feel the world of death stranding, but as a fundamental narrative pillar in the game.

“The way I select music or artists is based on the trust I establish with them. The natural connection (strand) with these people makes it possible for us to work together.”

Hideo Kojima goes beyond his creation and applies the philosophy of the game’s own narrative to his way of working and his vision of work.
He found the album to be the perfect image of Iceland and the game itself, of the natural, the purest, the living nature with the most dystopian in the future, an even more hostile world, a tomorrow to save. This feels so because of the union of the acoustic sounds mixing with the digital and metallic sounds of different instruments. However, these songs or pieces of music are not used every time we put our route on the map. The game has such an extensive sound design that it has managed to mark one of the most immersive video games of the last generation.

Composer Ludvig Forssell explains his process as a new search for his own metallic sounds in different effects of objects or bodies in the game. He explains:

We spent a lot of time on those bicycle sounds, it was one of the biggest challenges. We knew from the beginning that we would have electric motors and it’s hard to create electric motor sounds without them being like science fiction or Star Wars“.

Every electric vehicle or other object sounds different, but at the same time they have managed to perfectly recreate the rever or echo sounds in the middle of a valley or a mountain.
The fact is, How close you can hear your footsteps, how far away you can hear your voice alerting other players, etc… In a world as empty and dystopian as Death Stranding, you feel each route is different due to the great variety of sounds and environments that the game presents us with.

In another detail in terms of sound design, there are the recordings and other codec effects that different characters and other transmissions are heard during the game.
According to the composer, the US military used public address voices in the Vietnam War and they sounded distorted with a ghostly tone. He himself has used this method to introduce the different sounds to the enemies in the game and with other elements and to create his own sounds.

The composer uses all these metallic sounds to mix them together and create a new melody that has the same sound of the universe of the videogame, but at the same time different. Here he shows us a test on his mixing board.

Throughout the game, users themselves have noticed the incredible sound design work in the game in a way that has share videos across the networks of just contemplating the world of Death Stranding through atmosphere, space and sound.

Unlike other games, Death Stranding goes beyond landscapes (something that has also captivated many photography experts to explore its photo mode) but where it really concentrates is in the sound, of man with nature. A misunderstood work that will gain more over the years, a new path to follow towards great productions with new and fresh ideas.


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