One of the best things about Death Stranding is how it uses sound and music to elicit emotion.
Much of Death Stranding lies in introspection - your mind wandering as you traipse across craggy wilderness, listening to the sounds of nature, panning the camera to take it all in.
You might be trekking along the edge of a rocky stream while listening to the water flow, only for the camera to pull back, revealing the vastness surrounding you, and suddenly a licensed song begins playing to capture the mood. With headphones on, it can feel like an almost religious experience at times - raw, emotional, and awe-inspiring.
One of the bands Kojima Productions used for Death Stranding’s soundtrack is Low Roar, a post-rock group with an American frontman, based out of Reykjavík, Iceland. Before Death Stranding, the band wasn’t in a good place, and much of the music was recorded on a laptop in lead singer Ryan Karazija’s kitchen.
When Karazija first got the call for Low Roar’s music to be used, he had no idea of what impact it was about to have on the band’s status.
“Sony contacted us in an obscure email offering us a certain amount of money to use the song ‘I’ll Keep Coming’, and they were not willing to tell us what they’re going to use the song for,” he told me over email. “At that time we were in a gutter so we accepted it. And it turned out it was for Death Stranding.”
From that iconic first trailer featuring a naked Norman Reedus at the beach with some dead crabs and a baby, the band started growing in popularity.
You only have to look at the comments on their songs on YouTube to see how much of an impact Kojima’s game has had - thousands and thousands of messages from fans of the games, now all connected by their shared love for the game’s music as well as the game itself.
The band hasn’t had chance to play the game for themselves, however, as they’ve been busy making the most of this new wave of fans, getting out there and playing music on the touring circuit.
But what about that one fan - the one who made all of this possible in the first place? “We had dinner twice,” Karazija explained of his experiences with game director Hideo Kojima. “He’s a lovely man.”