Apart from the fact that you carry a baby around with you that is able to link minds with you, one of the strangest parts of 'Death Stranding' will undoubtedly be its very obvious product placement.
To be clear, product placement in games is certainly nothing new. In fact, one could argue it's been around as long as product placement in movies. There's been some truly weird examples of it. 'Super Mario Maker' - yes, really - had a special mushroom that turned the player into a luxury Mercedes-Benz SUV. More pointedly to 'Death Stranding', the PSP edition of 'Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker' had notable product placement for Doritos, Mountain Dew and Axe (Lynx here in Ireland) Body Spray.
— Butta (@XxButta) November 7, 2019
'Death Stranding', even though its set in a bizarre post-apocalyptic world where interdimensional beings threaten our extinction, has cans of Monster Energy placed conspicuously throughout the game. Not only that, when Sam - played by Norman Reedus - goes for a shower in the game, the shower doors carry a poster for 'Ride With Norman Reedus', the travel series Norman Reedus does for AMC.
Is this really necessary? What does it add to the game? The Monster Energy is almost as bad. You need to drink 3 for the maximum stamina boost and the animation is absurdly long. #DeathStranding pic.twitter.com/C7424WG6e1
— Blaine Smith (@GHBSmith) November 8, 2019
If we use movies as an example, most take on product placement as a way to underwrite their production costs. 'Skyfall', for example, featured Heineken in a few scenes when the movie hit budgetary issues. Michael Bay was famous for placing the likes of Bud Light in position in his 'Transformers' movies. Yet, in 'Death Stranding', Monster Energy isn't some way of achieving verisimilitude - it's actually a power-up in the game, like the weird crytobites you eat to rest your health. In the game, Norman Reedus' character chugs Monster Energy to replenish his stamina.
It's hard to know precisely why the game features it so prominently. It could be that Hideo Kojima is trying to emulate movies to the point of putting in product placement when it's not entirely necessary. It could be that he just really, really likes Monster Energy? Likewise, Norman Reedus may have asked for his travel show to get a mention in the game as part of his deal.
In a game that's as weird and mind-boggling as 'Death Stranding' is, putting in very obvious product placement is just one of many head-scratching moments. You can read our review of 'Death Stranding' here.