Tribeca Games Presents: Hideo Kojima with Norman Reedus

By Dean Moses

Video games and film are often placed in two distinctive yet separate camps. While they are both forms of entertainment, movies spoon feed us a variety of emotions—horror, comedy, sadness, shock—on a set, unaltered path provided for us by the directors, writers, and actors. We see what they want us to see at the instant they wish us to see it, we feel what they tell us to feel when they desire us to feel it. Games differ somewhat in that many titles allow us to carve our own path through the plot, even allowing us to have a dramatic effect on the ending. We might even encounter some random act along the way that another player may not experience in the same manner, causing us to laugh or yell with fright, an unplanned reaction: the magic of video games manifest.

These are the vital differences between the two mediums, existing outside the realm of one another, that was until PT came along. This PlayStation 4 (PS4) exclusive demo was setting the groundwork for a new entry in the Silent Hill franchise; nonetheless that is not what made this game noteworthy. No, the creative minds behind the concept were the factors that made it such a revelation. Video game legend Hideo Kojima, creator of my personal favorite video games series Metal Gear Solid and outstanding Oscar winning director Guillermo Del Toro teamed up to co-design the would-be Silent Hill sequel while Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus was cast to star. This amalgamation of two of the medium’s best had gamers all over the world excited to experience a new vista in this rapidly expanding media, that was until their dreams were crushed. The concept was swiftly canceled, leaving us to only wonder what could have been. The cancellation led to a deluge of news articles and speculation over the next few months and even years, some even citing that Del Toro stated he would never work on a video game ever again.

Much to the chagrin of fans, the steady stream of widespread coverage never led to PT’s rekindling; in fact it seemed to conclude in Kojima leaving his longtime gaming studio Konami. Nevertheless, this is not where the story of PT ends, it is, in fact, where it begins. Death Stranding is the phoenix born from the ashes of PT, a much different game baring little to no resemblance to its predecessor save two key aspects: Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus. These two men have once again teamed up to create what many gamers believe is a masterpiece in waiting. The plot details of what precisely Death Stranding will encompass have been sparse at best, yet we do know that both Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal and Doctor Strange) are confirmed to star.

Again, the power of film and videos games are clashing in the finest of ways, which caught the attention of one of the most renowned film festivals, the Tribeca Film Festival. This annual celebration of movies and television—taking place right here in New York City—saw the historic potential this team up could have for the future of entertainment and therefore set up a discussion between the pair at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center stage, which of course being an important moment in gaming the Spring Creek Sun attended.

The conversation focused more on the technical and acting process rather than any fresh plot or gameplay details. The extensive and seemingly exhausting procedure of scanning Reedus’ likeness into the game was at the forefront, everything from his expressions to his tattoos is said to make it into the final product. The audience was shown pictures on a cinema screen of the actor encircled by cameras, along with snapshots of him performing scenes in a motion capture suit. “First time I get there, and I am in a skintight, blue lycra bodysuit—I have never done that in a movie,” Reedus joked. “And then I have all these Velcro balls on me, and I am sticking to everything, then a zillion little dots on my face… it’s crazy. It’s a whole new experience for me,” Reedus told the crowd.

Still despite all the excitement attendees felt for the upcoming game, there was a large pink elephant stomping throughout the auditorium in the form of PT. Fans yearned to know the story behind the game’s termination. While no specific particulars were offered up, their former colleague was mentioned. “He’s [Kojima] very much like Guillermo in a lot of ways. You can understand why they are good friends. I remember working with Guillermo on two different things and he would be behind the monitor during a fight scene acting it out. His attitude and his vision are infectious,” said Reedus.

With the help of a translator, Kojima spoke candidly about leaving Konami and starting anew. “I thought I lost everything, but I found out I had a lot of connections like Norman, and I really wanted to reconnect with these people that I thought were important. It was very difficult to start from scratch, but I also understood that I didn’t lose anything, I was very lucky because I had the connections,” said Kojima.

Talking at the Tribeca Film Festival, the video game developer also stressed the distinctive properties of his craft. “In a game it is different, it’s interactive. You have to decide what you do, and this is the fundamental difference between movies and games. In Death Stranding I have a little secret that you get tied into and you have to make a decision. The most important thing is that I want the player to play freely, at the same time there is more dramatic storytelling, it is really difficult, but I am working hard to do both,” Kojima said.

From listening to the pair talk, it is clear that both men are striving  to make the experience as cinematic as possible while also delivering a sense of freedom for the player, which is no easy task. With that being said, if anyone can pull it off, Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus are the men for the job. Death Stranding currently does not have a release date, however, with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) right around the corner that could change very soon.

Photos by Dean Moses