THE ART OF DEATH STRANDING / AUTHOR: KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS / PUBLISHER: TITAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Video game concept art books have become a tradition for most major releases. There is no better way for a games company to squeeze even more cash out of their easily exploitable fans than releasing a bunch of stills they had lying about the office anyway. Thankfully, some of these tomes prove to be more than just cash grabs and instead provide a thorough insight into a game’s artistic development over the often lengthy production period. The Art of Death Stranding maintains the streak started by the conceptually gorgeous Metal Gear Solid art book series by being a worthwhile product for mega fans of Death Stranding’s utopian-apocalyptic aesthetic.
Each of Death Stranding’s characters are portrayed in highly detailed drawings, with some pieces showing unused designs and outfits. Some of these are drawn by long-time Kojima collaborator Yoji Shinkawa in his distinctive sketch-like style, which is a plus for long-time fans of Shinkawa’s work on the Metal Gear series. There is also general concept art on weapons and vehicles, giving greater perspective on the tech present in the world of Death Stranding, as well as the creative development of some of the concepts in the game.
However, these insights are only visual, with annotation relatively barebones, often describing only the apparent contents of the artwork without giving any insightful information. There are some nuggets of gold in there, but overall this is a sorely missed opportunity, as more vision into the game’s world and development would have elevated this significantly.
The highlight of the book, however, is definitely the drop-dead gorgeous concept art for the game’s environments. Whether it’s the brutalist, Blade Runner-esque architecture of Capital Knot city, or the rolling bayous of the American wastelands, every single landscape piece in this book is worthy of framing and hanging on your wall. The amount of effort put into these pieces is beyond belief - they are all a marvel to look at.
Overall, The Art of Death Stranding is a worthwhile purchase for those looking for more of the game’s distinctive world design, even if the lack of meaningful annotation holds it back from being completely recommendable.