I’m something of a tactile person when it comes to videogames. Don’t get me wrong, I have a moderate sized Steam library like most PC gamers, but unless there’s a big discount on offer, I’ll always gravitate towards the physical version of a game. That fondness also extends to merchandise, so for a game I’m particularly hyped about, I’ll often plump for the special edition to get myself a figurine or a soundtrack alongside the game itself.
Death Stranding is one of those games that I’m currently hyped about. I don’t know the gameplay mechanics, the plot or even the genre yet, but I do know that it stars Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen, it’s being created by Hideo Kojima, and it’s weird. That’s enough for me to want merch already, even if it means being disappointed by the actual game later if it turns out to be a lemon. So far, our only details come from two trailers (one from E3 and one from GDC/PSX), both featuring songs by indie band Low Roar, whose ethereal sounds perfectly match the disjointed nature of the trailers. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels that way; you only have to look at the spikes in Google searches for the band around the release of each trailer to see the impact their sonic input had.
The songs that have been used were part of Low Roar’s 2014 album 0, but this re-release features those two tracks that have been used on Death Stranding’s pair of trailers so far (at the time of writing). It’s a heavyweight 12” single with I’ll Keep Coming (from the E3 Trailer with Norman Reedus) on the A-side and Easy Way Out (from the PSX recut of the GDC Trailer with Guillermo Del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen) on the B-side.
Minimalist artwork by Randy Ortiz adorns the cover, showing a hand and the black tentacles that have been a feature of the surreal trailers so far. Open it up and we find the record in a plain black sleeve, but the vinyl itself is super snazzy, with the clear plastic being covered in black splatters. It’s a 180g pressing, which feels nicely chunky and robust, as a special edition should in my opinion. Aesthetically, I feel this is a very nice package and it looks superb when in use.
You’ll probably already know the songs if you’re reading this review, but if you don’t then, think of the sort of slow and ethereal sound that bands like Portishead or Moloko were creating in the ‘90s and you’ll get the idea. This is especially prominent on I’ll Keep Coming, with a crescendo being built up of uneasy sounding minor key backing synths, mechanical sounding samples and the breathy vocals of guest singer Sigurlaug Gísladóttir.
You do only get two tracks for your money, so given the price of this, you’re not getting a lot for your money. That said, it’s good music, and it’s a nice piece of memorabilia. Sure, you’re taking a gamble at this point that the game will be good enough to warrant getting merchandise for it, but the music is good either way, and if you’re going to take a punt on a game being good then a Kojima game’s probably a half-decent bet. I’ve taken it and I certainly don’t regret it.
Death Stranding Vinyl Soundtrack Review
A nice package that does well to start the hype train for Kojima’s first in-house project rolling. No surprises, but that does mean that you’ll know what you’re getting in advance if you’ve seen the trailers so you’ll already know if you like the music.