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Hideo Kojima explains the politics behind Death Stranding

Bad news for the “keep politics out of video games” crowd, but the themes of Death Stranding are inspired by the current state of global politics.

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Death Stranding politics America

Bad news for the “keep politics out of video games” crowd, but the themes of Death Stranding are inspired by the current state of global affairs.

“Keep politics out of video games,” much like the “stick to sports” edict that has all but killed Deadspin, sounds like a simple notion. On the face of it, it sounds like “please keep big issues away from my leisure activity,” which seems like a reasonable request.

But wishing for an absence of politics, by those who are catered to or reinforced by the current political climate, is actually a vote for the status quo. Even wishing for a lack of politics is inherently a political stance. (Like a government rallying against proportional representation, or suppressing votes for minorities, the young, the disenfranchised.)

One thing that has always been political, however, is the creative oeuvre of famed video game auteur, Hideo Kojima.

For some reason, certain people have it in their heads that the Metal Gear Solid series is just a silly espionage romp, with no politics behind it. It’s a story of the cold war, of secret government agencies, of battlefield ethics and the impacts of war, of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Hell, the final “goal” of the Metal Gear Solid series, before Kojima parted ways with Konami, was for players to voluntarily complete a global nuclear armistice, and rid the world of nukes altogether.

Which all sounds very political. And now we’ve had confirmation – from the man himself – that Death Stranding is also political in its themes.

According to reviews, which have been mixed but largely positive, the story of Death Stranding is a little bit of a jumble. In true Kojima fashion, it’s ambitious and wild and grandiose and overblown, but also, a bit baffling. Not that it’s difficult to understand per se, but it’s a flurry of acronyms and concepts and bizarre writing, that’s papered over somewhat by top-drawer acting and performance capture.

But the themes of Death Stranding are undeniable. It’s about a bloke (called Sam Porter Bridges), working for an organisation (called Bridges), run by his mother, Bridget (Bridget Bridges, presumably?), building metaphorical bridges (and often, literal bridges) across the fractured ruins of the United States of America. Building bridges is key, you might say.

In an interview with BBC Newsbeat, Hideo Kojima talked about what Death Stranding’s themes, of strands and bridges, were inspired by.

“President Trump right now is building a wall. Then you have Brexit, where the UK is trying to leave the EU, and it feels like there are lots of walls and people thinking only about themselves in the world,” Kojima says.

“In Death Stranding, we’re using bridges to represent connection – there are options to use them or break them. It’s about making people think about the meaning of connection.”

So while you can argue all you like about the presence of politics in video games – and most PR departments from big publishers like Ubisoft, EA, and Konami are keen to stress they’re not making a political statement with their games – the recently emancipated and PR-unladen Hideo Kojima would like you to know that Death Stranding’s themes of connection are in direct contrast with the current isolationism and xenophobia in western politics.

Which, whatever you make of the game itself, is really nice, actually.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Wasteland Remastered gets a release date

Wasteland Remastered will upgrade the 1988 RPG’s look just in time for Wasteland 3.

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Wasteland Remastered release date
inXile

Wasteland Remastered will upgrade the 1988 RPG’s look just in time for Wasteland 3.

inXile Entertainment announced the remaster back in 2018, with a scheduled 2019 release. But with release dates prone to slipping, instead, Wasteland Remastered will launch on February 25 2020. That’s my birthday if you’ve been wondering what to get me. [Duly noted – Ed.]

The game will simultaneously launch on Steam, the Windows Store and GOG, inXile said. Additionally, Wasteland Remastered will be available via the console and PC versions of Xbox Game Pass.

“Wasteland Remastered is an overhaul of the 1988 title that brought the post-apocalypse to video games,” inXile said in a post on its website. “The Remastered title brings new graphics, audio, music, and digitizes the physical paragraphs book from the original with brand new artwork.”

Here are the before and after pictures. It’s like weirdly-specific time travel.

Wasteland remastered

The remaster is being handled by Krome Studios. That’s a name I haven’t heard in years. Krome developed the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games in the PS2 era and rebooted the Spyro franchise in 2006. It also remastered the Bard’s Tale games.

Wasteland 3 is set to launch on May 19. Its predecessors were recently free on GOG.


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Pick up The Bridge, an Escher-inspired puzzler, for free

The Bridge, a perspective-swapping puzzler is free on the Epic Games Store.

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The Bridge - Epic Games Store
The Quantum Astrophysics Guild

The Bridge, a perspective-swapping puzzler is free on the Epic Games Store.

According to its Epic description, The Bridge “forces the player to reevaluate their preconceptions of physics and perspective.” And, its black-and-white, pencil-drawn graphics certainly make it look like a brain-breaking M.C. Escher drawing. But, with a bearded suit-wearing guy – who wouldn’t look out of place in Braid – exploring it.

I missed this one back in 2013. When it came out, I was in the middle of my freshman year of college and taking a break from video games. But, if I had been playing games at the time, this one’s mash-up of Fez mechanics and philosophical self-importance absolutely would have appealed to me.

Make of that what you will.

The Bridge screenshot

Now that The Bridge is free, Epic has unveiled next week’s freebie. Get ready to simulate some farming. That’s right Farming Simulator 19 will be up for grabs next Thursday.


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This week’s best Nintendo eShop bargains

Are you looking for something new to play on Nintendo Switch this weekend? Here’s news of some new eShop discounts.

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Nintendo eShop Sale - VVVVVV

Are you looking for something new to play on Nintendo Switch this weekend? Here’s news of some new eShop video game discounts.

This week’s crop of Nintendo Switch digital discounts in Europe includes a range of classic indie games published by Nicalis.

We’ll never stop recommending Terry Cavanagh’s masterful platformer VVVVVV, even if he is a little sheepish about its qualities these days. Likewise, Daisuke Amaya’s timeless Metroid-style adventure game, Cave Story+. Classic shmup Ikaruga also comes highly recommended, particularly as it can be played on Switch in Tate Mode.

Other discounted games include sports sim Football Manager 2020, futuristic stunt racer FutureGrind, and no less than five titles from the Jackbox Party series.

We’ll also highlight Super Life of Pixel. It’s a simple and charming platform game that takes players on a trip through various console generations. Originally released on Wii U, the Switch version includes six new vintage consoles. It’s a neat idea, delightfully executed.

Here are some more sale recommendations. Visit the Nintendo eShop in your country for the full lineup of discounted games.

Nintendo Switch sale highlights

  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
  • The End is Nigh
  • Ikaruga
  • VVVVVV
  • Cave Story +
  • Toki Tori
  • Toki Tori 2+: Nintendo Switch Edition
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Super Burger Time
  • FutureGrind
  • Crystal Crisis
  • RemiLore
  • Umihara Kawase Fresh!
  • Blade Strangers
  • Redout
  • Code of Princess EX
  • Tiny Barbarian DX
  • Swords & Soldiers
  • The Jackbox Party Packs 2-6
  • Gear.Club Unlimited 2

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Bookmark our sales page for the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 offer. You can also get regular gaming news updates by following Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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Stardew Valley passes huge sales milestone

Eric Barone confirms that Stardew Valley has passed another sales milestone.

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Stardew Valley logo
ConcernedApe

ConcernedApe confirms that Stardew Valley has chalked off another sales milestone.

Eric Barone – also known as ConcernedApe – has revealed that small-town farming RPG Stardew Valley has now sold over 10 million copies.

Tweeting the news, Barone said:

Stardew Valley has sold over 10 million copies. It’s strange & amazing to think back to when I was making this game in my bedroom w/ no clue if anyone would like it. Only 4 years ago! To everyone who has played this game, supported it, and made all of this possible: Thank you!!”

Stardew Valley –  which began life as a tribute to Harvest Moon – was first released on PC in 2016. If you’ve read Jason Schreier’s excellent book on game development, Blood, Sweat and Pixels, you’ll know that the game’s journey to release was not easy, and involved a lot of, well, blood, sweat and pixels. Fortunately, it was an instant hit, selling over 400,000 copies in two weeks.

Following its PC launch, Stardew Valley was ported to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Mac, mobile, and even Tesla Arcade. Yup, players can tend to their carrots from the comfort of an electric car. Modern life truly is reasonable.

Barone is planning to support the game for a while yet, so it’s not too late to move to the country and live the life you’ve always dreamed about.


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Cyberpunk horror game Observer looks to be getting a sequel

Bloober Team is teasing a sequel to Observer, its cyberpunk horror walking sim.

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Observer sequel
Bloober Team

Bloober Team is teasing a sequel to Observer, its cyberpunk horror walking sim.

Games as dripping with atmosphere as Observer don’t come around very often. Confined within a crumbling tenement building in an oppressive future, the game managed to capture the big mood of cyberpunk without losing its soul among all the neon lights and body mods.

Now, Bloober Team is almost certainly hoping to catch V I B E lightning in a bottle again. While they haven’t officially announced a sequel, the Polish studio tweeted a short, glitchy video today. It showed a rundown city and was captioned with the tags “#cyberpunk #blooberteam #horrrorgame.”

More definitive, though, is the logo at the video’s center. The cube, composed of Cs, will likely look familiar for fans of the original game: it’s the icon used by Chiron Incorporated, Observer’s all-powerful corporation.

Further, Bloody Disgusting reported that fans had translated the binary in the video, with the results reading: “Daniel, are you there?” That’s almost certainly a reference to Detective Daniel Lazarski, the lead character of the original game.

Cyberpunk icon Rutger Hauer played Lazarski in the original game. But, the Blade Runner actor sadly passed last year. That fact leaves some questions open about how exactly the next game will tie-in to the original.

Questions aside, after last year’s lackluster Blair Witch, it’s exciting to see Bloober return to its most interesting IP.


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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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