Kojima Productions' upcoming game Death Stranding has generated a predictable amount of fan theories about how this new world from Hideo Kojima works. Over the weekend a new trailer dropped, highlighting a previously lesser-seen character named Heartman, and it has fans wondering how exactly death works in Death Stranding.
The trailer opens and we see Heartman, played by Nicolas Winding Refn (perhaps best known for directing the movie Drive) lying dead on a chair, before a timed shock resuscitates him. Heartman gets up and sighs, saying "no luck" while the timer sets itself back to 21 minutes, and he catalogues his trip: Visit 218,550.
As we learn over the course of about two minutes that Heartman spends talking with Death Stranding protagonist Sam Bridges (Norman Reedus), Heartman is in something of a death cycle. He lives for 21 minutes at a time, before returning to death. We learn he's searching for something on the other side; as he goes through his library of books, music, and movies, all short enough to consume in 21 minutes or less, he says they're just downtime. Heartman's body may be present, but his soul is "on the beach," where he visits for three minutes at a time.
This has fans questioning the nature of death in Death Stranding, because as Heartman says, he's already dead. Yet he's been able to visit an "other side," much like the one Sam visits when he dies or gets caught by Beached Things (BTs).
Is the "other side" the same as the one Sam visits, where the wars take place and Sam has to search for a way back to life? Or is Heartman's death different—given that, as pointed out by one Reddit user, Heartman is shown on the beach in past trailer in full clothing, while Sam is nude? The three-minute interval for being on the other side was also theorized to counteract brain damage from prolonged lack of oxygen. So why is Heartman only able to visit the other side in death, yet come back? Others have noted the picture of his family on his desk as he walks by—likely what he's searching for—and the hanging BT in both this clip and the Heartman poster. Why would his family be stuck on the other side?
There are still plenty of theories to go around, but ultimately, I'll only get answers once Death Stranding is loaded up and running on my PlayStation 4. We'll see if I can find any closure or sense come November 8.