Fractured Worlds: The Art of Death Stranding event report

October 29th 2019, at 8am Eastern Standard Time, the Kojima Productions account on Twitter announced the Death Stranding World Tour. Events were to be held in cities around the world (Paris, London, Berlin, NY, San Francisco, Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Taipei, and Seoul) to celebrate the impending launch the studio?s inaugural title. Upon seeing this on my timeline, I reached out to the staff of the site, including our very own Tyler Nethers who reviewed the title for our site to see if we had leads on the event that will be taking place in New York. Alas no one on the site was able to connect to someone who would be able to provide us access. However when one connection falters, a different connection in the form of a friend I?ve known since high school randomly inquired if I had received an invite to this event. So lo and behold details and access to the event was attained by being a +1 to friend of over 20 years.

14th St and 10th Avenue on the island of Manhattan is in the neighborhood known as Chelsea. The major attractions within the range of this address includes Chelsea Market, an Apple Store and the entrance of the highline. However for dates of November 6th to the 9th, this address is home to the New York stop of the Death Stranding Tour. Fractured Worlds: The Art of Death Stranding is the pop up gallery which looks to showcase the art and music of Death Stranding. Visitors are received on an hourly basis and walk-ins are welcomed if the hourly allotment of visitors have not been filled. Once checked in and photo release forms were signed, the first thing we are greeted with a quote from the studio?s head Hideo Kojima (the gallery is littered with many quotes from Kojima himself). A brief speech indicating the contents of the exhibits and the ground rules we were led into a familiar hallway…

Sterile and bright, the first portion of the gallery is a replica of the famed entrance hallway of Kojima Productions. Fans who follow Hideo Kojima on social media are quite acquainted with this site, as this is the locale where guests of the studio take an obligatory photo with the famed studio head. A gallery staff member encouraged us to take photos with the Ludens statue that is situated in the middle of the hallway, as to replicate the many photos which has been posted on social media. After we officially entered an area showcasing effects such as the guest badges of all the events which Hideo Kojima attended during the course of development as well as the award the title have won from the gaming press. When one has seen enough of the accolades an unreleased title has garnered they can proceed to the next section.

A ebony monolith indicates that the section we are about to enter contains concept art of the title. Adorned on the walls are pieces of art by frequent Kojima collaborator, Yoji Shinkawa. There is also glass enclosure which holds inked sketches from the artist as well. An oddity amongst all the art is a framed fatigues jacket which sports a notable alteration, the signature of Mads Mikkelsen who portrays Cliff in the game.

Once done gawking at pre-production materials, guests were shuffled into replica of the office environment where Death Stranding was developed. 2 desktop pods which can seat 6 members of the development team are on display. The desks are probably an idealized version of the workspace as each desk contains only one ?personal affect?, which includes Kojima?s favorite Tokusatsu hero, Ultraman. Images on the wall gives visitors a glimpse of the other spaces which the staff of Kojima Production would be situated in during development.

Hideo Kojima is an avid consumer of media and it is reflected in his works. The next stop of the gallery will showcase the music that he and the team compiled for the title. It is here visitors can sample tracks from the game?s score as well music from popular artists that were inspired by the title. Some of the artists featured includes Major Lazer, Khalid, MISSIO and Chvrches. As someone who isn?t keen on putting on headphones which are accessible to the public, I shuffled off to the next portion of the exhibit in record time.

Kojima Productions has always been in the forefront of creating some of the realistic looking visuals in video game history. The centerpiece of this next section is the capture rig which the team utilized to transcribe the likeness of the actors into the game. It funny that what looks like a stripped down gazebos with DSLRs graffed to specific points can be responsible to the amazing visuals we see in the title. As on display is a replica of the motion capture suit as well as a mannequin head adored with motion capture dots. Along the wall are candid shots of the team doing their work as well as shots of stars of the title Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen in full capture regala.

The final area of the exhibit is also the largest and most scatterbrained. The large room contained the celebrity picture wall which was off limits to photography. Pictures of recognizable faces like Guillermo del Toro, J.J. Abrams can be seen in photos with an absolutely beaming Hideo Kojima. A handprint wall mimics the only visual indicator that one of the game?s enemies the BTs can leave behind. Visitors are encouraged to ink up and leave their own handprint on the wall. At the center of that wall are the handprints of Hideo Kojima and the stars of the game. On the floor are standees of some of the characters you will meet in the game such as Sam, Cliff, Heartman, Die-Hardman, Fragile and Mama. The statue of Sam which has been taken around to events such as E3 and New York Comic Con was also available for photos. The collector?s edition of the game which features a massive case as well as a replica of the BB pod gave gamers a first glimpse in person of what they will be taking home.

The limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro console was also on display and seeing it in person might be the last straw in helping me decide if I want to pull the trigger on purchasing yet another PlayStation 4. Before I could commit to another unnecessarily large purchase I made a beeline towards the exit where I passed by art inspired by the game. The art styles of these pieces include watercolors, Genndy Tartakovsky-ish animation style, Mondo-style movie poster renders and stencils. Breaching the point of no return, I finally exited through the gift shop, but not without being severing my connection with my hard earned money and making a new link with some t-shirts which will tell the world that I attended the world tour.

I don?t know what I?ll think of this title as it will be a while before I can finally witness what Hideo Kojima is capable, unleashed from his former captors at Konami. So far the discourse has been divisive at best. However the care in which this exhibit was compiled shows that no matter what the final verdict is, Hideo Kojima is a man who knows what he wants and makes what he wants. Those who reside in or near the cities which this tour will be visiting really need to make it a point to see for themselves, I?m glad I was able to.

Special thanks goes to my longtime friend David Charles who helped facilitate this experience by including me as his +1 on his reservation and Anthony Parisi for the photos.