Death Stranding. This is the name of the phenomenon of mutual annihilation in which the antimatter of the world of the dead came into contact with the matter of the world of the living. From that day on, the world as we know it has changed irremediably. The populations that until then lived connected to each other through a network find themselves isolated and having to fight against the threats that the outside world has offered since that day. Phenomena like the Cronopioggia, which instantly ages every living organism wet by its drops, and the CA, the souls of the dead who wander the realm of the living in search of their lost body. Whenever a human being loses his life he goes into necrosis within hours and the touch of the CAs, who are desperately trying to make contact with the coffin, causes the appearance of an immense crater of death and devastation. In a way like this those who are considered heroes are the couriers, which allow humanity to survive by transporting commodities and basic necessities from one point to another of continents on the verge of total destruction. These are the premises of the profound and more than current world created by the imagination of Hideo Kojima for the first project of its renewed development team. After having thoroughly explored it through the videogame media, the DEATH STRANDING that we find ourselves today in our hands is a two-volume novel written by the co-writer of the game, Hitori Nojima. I’ll tell you about it in this review.
The arrival of DEATH STRANDING on the market it has divided the players between those who still consider it a cult video game and those who find it a product incredibly below expectations. Reduce above all from the famous saga of METAL GEAR, Hideo Kojima dared to experiment, creating a new videogame genre in which the task of each user becomes that of reconnecting an America made up of human beings in the desperate search for a normality. A topic that became current with the arrival of the pandemic in the real world, with the only difference that the otherworldly elements of which Kojima’s work is permeated seem decidedly more frightening than our current enemy number one, but that somehow humanity it seems more cohesive in an attempt to defeat.
The protagonist of the story narrated by Nojima between the pages of the two rich volumes is Sam Porter Bridges, a courier who became a legend because of his incredible abilities. The peculiar characteristic of Sam is his being able to return from the world of the dead because of his DOOMS, skills that make him able to bridge the world between the living and the dead. The boundary between the two realities is represented by Beach: a beach for each living being, where the sea represents the afterlife and the shore represents the earthly world. Despite working for years as a freelance, Sam will be hired against his will by the BRIDGES, through a sort of moral blackmail, to carry out an important mission. The one of rebuild the United States of America by reconnecting the surviving cities through the chiral network.
Unlike the video game, while remaining faithful to it in its entirety, DEATH STRANDING’s novel is an incredibly more introspective product. We will travel with Sam’s thoughts, we will face his dreams, we will experience his same feelings. Compared to the game from which it is based, Nojima’s books also allow us to experience the stories of secondary characters firsthand and their fears, of facing death, the pain caused by the disappearance of a loved one. To accompany Sam on his long journey, in addition to the remote support of characters such as Deadman And Die-Hardman, we will find BB, the infant contained within the capsule connected directly to its suit. The link to the Bridge Baby, combined with his DOOMS, makes Sam able to perceive in the best way the threat of the CA, to avoid ending up beached and causing the appearance of a crater. But the connection with the pickled baby will establish a relationship of empathy in both of them and before he realizes it Sam will end up considering BB one of the greatest priorities and responsibilities in the course of his journey.
If the title played in 2019 resurfaced this September on PlayStation 5 confronted us with long treks dotted with deadly obstacles and threats, with a tension that was always heartbreaking, the novel by DEATH STRANDING dedicates a much narrower space to the crossings, limited only to the key moments in which the plot requires the presence of the reader. This allowed Nojima to focus more on the emotionality of the story, but also on details that best unravel the scenario and each background element.
The cult videogame made by Hideo Kojima, elected Game of the Year 2019, is transported to paper in a two-volume novel by Hitori Nojima, former author of the prose adaptations of Metal Gear Solid. Mysterious explosions rocked the planet, triggering a series of supernatural phenomena known as Death Stranding. Ghostly creatures devouring the living have pushed humanity to the brink of extinction, causing the collapse of society as we know it and the dispersal of the survivors, who now live in completely isolated communities. Sam Porter Bridges, the legendary courier with the power to return from the world of the dead, has been tasked with a critical mission by the President of the United Cities of America: he will have to travel through this devastated landscape infested with otherworldly threats, to reconnect cities. and people and rebuilding America one step at a time.
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J-POP brings the novel by DEATH STRANDING in to Italy an exclusive collector’s box that includes both books, but also by selling the two volumes individually. The box that collects the complete series is made of color-printed cardboard with a silk-screened back, like each of the two volumes, but I would have appreciated more the use of a more rigid material, because transport and some carelessness could ruin it irremediably. The two books instead feature a dust jacket with opaque lamination and both the same artwork, but with a slightly different coloring, a cover artwork that stages the entire cast of main characters with a style that best matches that of the game and a highly recognizable Norman Reedus at the center of it. Inside, the book is printed in an extremely legible font on very white uncoated paper, with the first pages completely in black and containing a glossary and the presentation of each of the characters. The Italian translation is of excellent workmanship and decidedly congruous with that made for the video game, it uses the same terms and the same acronyms, even if it was impossible not to notice that, in the first pages and on several other occasions, the Cronopioggia was indicated with English-speaking term, Timefall. Inside the novel, contrary to what often happens in the so-called Japanese “light novels”, there is no illustration, and it is divided into chapters exactly like the work it is based on.
I will wait for you on the beach.
The paper transposition of DEATH STRANDING is a profound and interesting reading, addressed to those who fell in love with the product of KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS, of its declining world and its characters, but also to those who have not had the opportunity to play it, for one reason or another. DEATH STRADING – The Novel it is usable exactly like any other story born on paper and is clear and exhaustive even for those who have never been interested in videogame media. I find that the work written by Hitori Nojima is an excellent opportunity to ensure that the incredible work done by Hideo Kojima and from its staff it can reach an even wider audience, because in my opinion it is a story that leaves its mark and that deserves to be universally recognized as a classic of our times. On balance, however, DEATH STRANDING is also a challenging read, one that will keep you nailed to the pages in the first few bars, but will require a little effort to complete. A point in favor if you are avid readers who devour books in a few days, but if you are slow and procastinators you may find yourself abandoning it due to its complexity and depth at times excessive.
A story that deserves to be told