In exchange for a new trailer and release date for Death Stranding, we've also got a whole lot more questions and not a ton of answers. Well, don't worry. We're here to try and make (some) sense of it all.
The first independent game from Kojima Productions, Death Stranding is both intriguing and baffling. We tore through the footage shown today to pull out the most important nuggets of knowledge we could, to try and ascertain the answer to that age-old question: what is Death Stranding?
- First off, there's combat. Whereas we had only seen Norman Reedus' Sam Bridges exploring the world and dodging the invisible "BT" monsters before, here we see Sam running, dodging, and fighting against the militant "Homodemon" forces. (I'm guessing that's like, homosapiens but demons?) At one point, he's also shooting enemies with an assault rifle in a trench in what appears to be World War I. Which is a good enough segue into…
- There is time travel? After getting caught by the oily pool of BT monsters in a forest, we see a first-person vantage that pans back out to third-person, with Sam in the middle of World War I. It's a little dreamlike, and Mads Mikkelsen's character appears to play a large role in these "flashbacks." It seems like a lot of Death Stranding will center around time or timelines, with frequent references to an "other side" and the use of babies as "back-ups." Also, it looks like we'll visit a few different eras, as the trailer stinger shows Mads in what appears to be Vietnam.
- This is America. No, really, the United States also seems to be a central theme of Death Stranding. At one point we see Sam and another character having a discussion in what appears to be the White House, and the voiceover makes frequent references to restoring America. The ruins and absence of civilization would suggest that America has, in some way, fallen. Also, Reedus delivers a great read on, "Bridget, you're the president of jack-shit."
- The cast is star-studded. We got names and confirmation of the roles various real-life actors will play in the game. It includes: Sam (Norman Reedus), Higgs (Troy Baker), Fragile (Léa Seydoux), Deadman (Guillermo del Toro), Mama (Margaret Qualley), Die-Hardman (Tommie Earl Jenkins), Amelie (Lindsay Wagner), Cliff (Mads Mikkelsen), and Heartman (Nicolas Winding Refn). Also, two female characters are named "Fragile" and "Mama," so, definitely a Kojima production.
- Sam has a motorcycle, because of course Norman Reedus gets a motorcycle. There is both cutscene and gameplay footage of the motorcycle in action, but really, it just makes sense. It should be in every contract Reedus signs that he gets a motorcycle.
- Ladders! Ropes! Traversing the open expanses, snowy mountains, and all other kinds of terrain will require more than just a pair of boots. In the trailer, we see Sam pull out a ladder for large gaps and use a rope for rappelling down cliffs and canyons. Radical.
- That body sure seems important. At several points Sam is shown carrying a body in a mummy-like wrap, placing it in what looks like a cremation machine, and talking over it with Deadman and Die-Hardman. (Still getting used to those names. It's like they were rejected Mega Man bosses.)
- Connection seems important. The trailer's narration seems to imply that humanity has been isolated, and Sam is trying to reconnect people in some way that might give them hope of surviving through or defeating the BTs. This is the area where it goes real deep into Kojima-lore territory, so rampant speculation is the best I can offer.
- Other minor points of interest: Both Sam and Mama are shown with handcuffs dangling from their wrist at separate times, and they both have the flashing-light shoulder mount that anyone venturing outside seems to take with them. Fragile seems to be a third party to the conflict between Bridges and the Homodemons. Also, there are a lot of ominous shots of dead whales and people walking into the ocean. Is it potentially a flashback, showing the emergence of BTs? And Mads Mikkelsen seems to play a paternal role when he's not hunting you in the shadow realm. My current theory is that he's Sam's father, and the Mads we're seeing in the time-flashback stuff is a specter conjured by Sam's memory of him. I look forward to reading this in November and laughing about how wrong I am.
Overall, Death Stranding looks to be sufficiently strange and baffling, so it's exactly what you would want from an unleashed Hideo Kojima. We'll be pilfering through this trailer (and old ones too, probably) for more hints leading up to its release on November 8 for the PS4.