Death Stranding was inspired by real Japanese couriers and that's sending fans who are just finding out 5 years later

Death Stranding
(Image credit: Kojima Productions/505 Games)

Death Stranding is a sometimes meditative game about hauling cargo cross-country and trying not to trip up while doing so. But some fans are just now learning that its fiddly loop was actually inspired by a traditional Japanese occupation.

A Twitter thread recently delved into "maybe one of the oddest professions in Japan" called bokka, which are basically porters who carry supplies to mountainous areas where vehicles can't access. "A bokka uses customized wooden ladder frames to carry 100-165kg of supplies on day-long marches," the thread explains.

Sam Porter Bridges. Tricky 10km hikes. Balancing stacks of cargo on a vertical, wobbly structure. Death Stranding has been a not-so-secret bokka simulator all along, unbeknownst to those who were unfamiliar with the profession before the social media algorithms enlightened us.

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A similar role exists in some European countries, including Slovakia, so the team at Kojima Productions wasn't exaggerating how finicky the act of simply walking can be. Certain mountain couriers are said to have scaled Mount Fuji while carrying over 100kg, and you can imagine their pain when a wrong step caused their load to topple off. If you've played Death Stranding, then you can definitely imagine it. 

Should you be interested in profession, I've embedded a sweet and short documentary about one of the superheroes who partake in the job. It's all in Japanese, but just witnessing the physical feat is interesting enough. 

Death Stranding players were expectedly quick to notice the connection, with some even surprised that, yes, art imitates life. Twitter user cuddlepuunk said the tidbit paints the game in a "beautifully different light." Meanwhile, podcaster Kalyoshika called for more criticism to draw the "connection between real life and the game."

Death Stranding 2: On The Beach should continue to expand on that finicky hiking loop when it launches next year. Actor Norman Reedus has said it's more violent than anything seen in the first game, but hopefully, my nature walks are intact too.

Check out what a 64-year-old film can tell us about Death Stranding 2: On The Beach.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.