Rejoice! The long sought after and highly anticipated Kojima game is finally out and it’s bloody beautiful looking. But, it all seems a little too familiar.
Our former games editor claimed to have got a little hands-on time with Kojima Production’s game early last month but because she couldn’t back her claims with evidence I didn’t really believe her. But one of the things she claimed absolutely blew her away were the game’s environments. So far, it rings true for me, but the environments seem so familiar to me… and I think I know why.
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Launch day is finally here and like a good Samaritan, I pre-ordered my copy and picked it up this morning from my local EB Games for $69.00 (they price match). After a rather short install process I was ready to hop straight into the game and, right from the get go, I felt at home.
The game starts with beautiful shots of a barren landscape and it is accompanied by beautiful indie track — and get this — by an artist I once knew personally. The artist is Low Roar. A lot of you may be familiar with his stuff from the very first Death Stranding teaser; it’s what really made them famous.
I used to live and work on a tiny little volcanic rock in the far north. It was the last home of the vikings as they kept heading north to flee Christendom, and eventually they settled on a tiny island they would eventually name Thule; that’s Iceland for those who don’t know.
I first met Ryan Karazija through his girlfriend; she was a work colleague, we were both baristas at Te og Kaffi back in 2010. Of course then Low Roar weren’t that famous but they were certainly professional, they played at Te og Kaffi around Iceland Airwaves back in 2010 and then played among some great artists like Portishead and Mogwai at ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties) at Keflavik, Iceland.
That’s when it hit me… I know these landscapes! I’ve traversed them many times. This is basically the Icelandic outback.
Death Stranding is pretty…
Icelandic nature is pretty popular for shooting scenes that are supposed to take place on an Alien planet; Prometheus and Thor: Dark World just to name a couple. So, it makes sense that Hideo Kojima would use Iceland as the main inspiration for Death Stranding.
There’s an Icelandic joke that goes a little something like this: What do you do if you get lost in a forest in Iceland? Stand up. It’s funny if you are an Icelandic person because there are so few trees there, and they are all pretty small. Just like in Death Stranding, it’s void of any real vegetation.
The Death Stranding environment consists mostly of cliffs, black sand, moss and hraun (lava rock formations), again, just like Iceland. I’m not saying the the game is set in Iceland but I feel like the landscape is definitely inspired by it. It’s not hard to be inspired while roaming around the barren wilderness of Iceland.
Ranson Riggs wrote and article for MentalFloss, Beautiful, Alien Iceland: “Iceland is a landscape that’s still being born. While much of the world’s once-jagged peaks have gradually worn into sloping hills, gushing rivers and mighty waterfalls have slowed to a trickle of their former flow, and remnants of the last Ice Age melted long ago, it’s not so in Iceland. This a young land, one that’s still being shaped by the same primeval forces that made much of the world — fire and ice. Its massive Vatnajokull glacier, which dominates about 10% of the country’s landmass, is so large that it’s technically classified as an ice cap. The European and North American tectonic plates meet in Iceland, and more than 130 volcanoes have sprung forth from the gap between them. Iceland has only been populated since about the middle of the ninth century, but already in that short time there have been dozens of major eruptions and lava flows, many of them devastating to human life. Almost every minute of the day there is an earthquake happening somewhere in Iceland.”
It is beautiful but it is also dangerous. Icelandic lands are as dangerous as they appear. In 1965 and 1967, American astronauts trained for moon missions in Iceland’s barren, volcanic highlands. And each year many tourists lose their lives while wandering these dangerous lands. Icelanders have had to write articles warning tourists of ‘how not to die‘ while visiting.
As a mentioned, it’s hard not to be inspired by Iceland’s alien-like lands; the deep dark caves, the thundering waterfalls, the spooky volcanic rock formations, and mountains that tower over you like giants. And after just a few hours of roaming in Death Stranding I get the exact same feeling I did when exploring in Iceland. Hideo Kojima has really captured the ambience and scale of the barren volcanic lands of Iceland… if that’s what he was trying to do. Despite its nightmarish vibe, Death Stranding is pretty.